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Does Medicare Cover Hearing Exams and Hearing Aids?
In general, Medicare does not cover routine hearing exams or hearing aids of any type. In some cases, diagnostic hearing exams are covered by Medicare Part B, but this is only when they are ordered by a doctor. If your hearing problem is due to a specific injury or disease—such as removal of a brain tumor or head injury—Medicare may cover the charges. Your doctor or hearing specialist will be able to explain which hearing exams are covered by Medicare, and the conditions for a diagnostic hearing exam.
You pay 100% of charges for routine hearing exams and hearing aids. If you are approved by your physician for a Medicare-covered diagnostic hearing exam, you pay 20% of the charges. You must pay your deductible for any Medicare Part B services and supplies before Medicare begins to pay its share. If a doctor, health care provider or supplier does not accept assignment, the amount you pay may be higher.
If your insurance is original Medicare with a supplemental, it is possible that some supplementals cover a portion of the hearing exam. You would need to check with your individual policy to determine if hearing loss is covered. If you are in the process of going on original Medicare and need to purchase a supplemental, check with several different supplemental coverages for specifics on hearing loss coverage.
What Do I Need To Know About Hearing Loss?
The AARP states that hearing loss is common as people age. The main type of hearing loss is sensorineural. This type of hearing loss is caused by damage and deterioration to the hair cells inside the ear, which is common during aging. You may want to talk to your doctor about hearing aids if:
- Straining to hear makes you feel tired
- You have to be looking at someone's mouth to understand him or her
- You have difficulty understanding words in public or normally loud places, such as a car or restaurant
- You often ask others to repeat what they said
- You have trouble hearing the telephone, doorbell, or alarms
Do I Need A Hearing Aid Exam?
If you feel as though you are suffering from hearing loss, you may want to ask your physician for a hearing exam. If your doctor does not conduct hearing exams, he or she will direct you to a hearing aid professional.
There are two main types of hearing exams. In regards to hearing aids and Medicare, it is important to know that only certain hearing exams are covered by Medicare.
- Regular hearing exams, which are similar to general health check up exams, are not covered by Medicare.
- The other type of hearing exam is a diagnostic hearing aid exam. This type of exam is based on a medical need, such as loss of hearing due to illness or surgery. Diagnostic hearing exams are prescribed by a physician, and are covered by Medicare as long as they are prescription-based due to a medical need.
How Do I Get a Hearing Exam?
A hearing aid professional may be an audiologist, or an otolaryngologist, who is an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist. This specialist can determine if your loss of hearing is due to medical reasons, or simply the result of aging. The audiologist is a hearing aid specialist. A professional can help you discover the type of hearing loss you have and if a hearing aid is the right option for you. A hearing aid professional, such as an audiologist, will be able to test your hearing using a variety of equipment. This will evaluate the type of hearing aid you need, if you need one. The hearing aid professional will recommend and fit a hearing aid to your individual needs and lifestyle.
The otolaryngologist may determine that your condition is medical, and if so, may be covered by Medicare. This is the reason the hearing exam is extremely important, even if it is found to not be medically caused. If that is the case you would be responsible for the cost of the exam. Your primary care physician may refer you to the specialist. If so, Medicare may cover the cost of the exam. Ask you PCP about this before going for the exam. If your PCP feels the hearing loss is not medically caused, you may be referred to an audiologist.
After your doctor or audiologist has completed a hearing exam for your individual needs, they will help you choose the type of hearing aid you need. When looking for a hearing aid specialist ensure that they:
- Are licensed and certified
- Have the correct testing equipment and a sound controlled room
- Offer a variety of hearing aids
- Work with you, and you are comfortable with them
- Explain costs, warranties, and trial periods
- Seem competent and offer after-purchase support
What Happens During a Hearing Exam?
During your hearing exam, you will be asked a variety of open-ended questions that help the examiner see how hearing loss impacts your daily life. You want to be specific about when, where, and how you have the most trouble hearing. For example, at home alone you can hear the television fine, but at a noisy coffee shop you have trouble hearing your friends. Explanations such as this help the hearing aid specialist determine the type of hearing aid that fits your lifestyle. The hearing exam will also question medications, ear pain or drainage, surgical history, dizziness or vertigo, and if you experience ringing in your ears.
The hearing exam will also use special equipment to test the type of hearing loss you have. In a sound-controlled booth, you will wear headphones or earphones that make a tone or word. The examiner will ask you to push a button when you hear the sounds. This will test the ability of your ears to recognize speech and tones based on the level of pitch and intensity. Remember that you may have to return to the hearing aid professional's office for further testing, depending on your individual needs and the types of sounds that you can or cannot hear. The "unintended
What Are The Choices in Hearing Aids?
The "unintended problem" with hearing loss is the multitude of options for hearing aids that exist today. Hearing aid styles are numerous, and in most cases, unobtrusive. S. R. Silverman wrote, "Let it not be said of the hard of hearing, "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity". (Washington University School of Medicine) No one need be concerned about the appearance of hearing aids today. Hearing aids have gone from the "hearing horns" of the 1500's to hearing aids that are comparable with Bluetooth-enabled phones. Styles range from behind-the-ear to as sophisticated as a deep canal hearing aid that can be worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is even an assistive software application that transforms your iPhone into an interactive hearing devise. Although at this point Medicare will only pay in certain circumstances, you should investigate the entire spectrum of hearing aid styles, using the keys provided in this article. Your hearing aid specialist will help you do this.