If you're in the market for hearing aids, you will soon discover that they are rarely covered by medical insurance or Medicare. There are many avenues for financial assistance with the purchase of hearing aids but the opportunities can vary according to the individual.
In his study of trends in the hearing care industry, Kochkin surveyed 3,174 hearing aid users. As part of his survey, he asked about financial assistance for purchasing hearing aids. His results showed that third-party funding for hearing aids through insurance has increased from 24% in 1989 to 40% in 2008. While encouraging, this still means that a majority of individuals who purchase hearing aids have to pay them out of pocket.
Out of those who do have a third-party that will help pay for hearing aids, Kochkin determined that the largest proportion of assistance comes from benefits through the Veterans Administration and the second largest source comes from health insurance. Hearing aid wearers cited many other potential sources of assistance, including Medicare, Medicaid, HMOs, charities, work unions and family. These sources are summarized in the bar graph below. Overall, the average amount of payment coverage by a third party is about 85% of the total price.
It is not entirely encouraging to find out that in most cases, hearing aids are not covered by insurance or other sources and when it is covered, it is usually not 100%. The good news is that the bar graph below provides you with a simple list of places that you should check to determine if you qualify for financial assistance to purchase hearing aids.
The Fastest Way to Find If You Have Financial Assistance For Hearing Aids
When you’re ready to purchase hearing aids, you don’t want to waste time finding out if you qualify for monetary assistance. Based on the way most people are provided with financial support, we have put together a prioritized list below for to help you investigate your options.
The VA is the single largest purchaser and provider of hearing aids in the United States. If you are a veteran or have a service connection, check with your local VA to see whether you qualify for hearing-related services, including the provision of hearing aids.
To determine if your health insurance covers hearing aids, check with your individual plan. Most plans have a toll-free number for member services listed on the insurance card. Even if you have it, insurance coverage for hearing aids varies in the way it is administered. Here are some real-life benefit types for hearing aids:
Each health plan is different and hearing aid coverage within a plan may vary according to geographic location. For example, Kaiser Permanente offers a hearing aid benefit with a credit per ear option available every 36 months. This benefit is specifically available in the Colorado service area, but not in Oregon, Washington, Ohio, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, or Washington DC areas. They state that there is potentially a benefit available in Hawaii and California, but users are encouraged to check on the type of coverage available.
Currently, about 20 states mandate that health insurance companies provide full or partial hearing aid coverage for children. Unfortunately, only three states--Arkansas, New Hampshire and Rhode Island--currently mandate health insurance companies to provide hearing aid coverage for adults. Arkansas and Rhode Island require that health insurance companies provide a benefit that can be used every three years; New Hampshire requires that the benefit be available every five years.
State-mandated health care coverage for hearing aids will vary from state to state and several states have legislation about hearing aid coverage pending. If your state does mandate coverage, you will need to do a little research to find out about the amount covered and how often a claim can be made, as well as any other qualifiers for the coverage. Your hearing care professional can often provide some guidance as you search.
Always be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine if you or your loved one qualifies for a hearing aid benefit.
|Always be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine if you (or your loved one) qualify for a hearing aid benefit.|
If you do not live in one of the mandated states, it does not mean that you do not have insurance coverage for hearing aids, it just means that your state laws do not require it. Check with your employer or benefits coordinator. Often healthcare systems, teacher retirement groups, city and state government employee groups and any other large employer or group will sometimes coordinate with a network of preferred providers to offer some level of discount or service. The AARP organization offers a hearing care program for their members that provides “savings on hearing aids and hearing healthcare products.” Be sure to check with these types of organizations if you are a member to see if there is a benefit.
Insurance coverage and discounts are always changing. When you’re considering the purchase of hearing aids, call your insurance provider and ask about your plan. Be sure to ask the following questions:
Medicare and Medicaid Coverage of Hearing Aids
Medicare does not usually cover annual hearing exams or hearing aids. You may have some options depending on the type of hearing loss and if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Medicaid coverage for hearing aids varies by state and eligibility is subject to change. To determine if you are qualify for Medicaid coverage for hearing aid(s) and/or cochlear implants in your state, contact your hearing care provider. You can also contact your state’s Medicaid program. For telephone numbers and contact information for the Medicaid program in your state, visit www.govbenefit.gov and select “Medicare/Medicaid.”
There are many charitable groups that will provide new or used hearing aids at a discount if you meet the financial criteria. We have provided a list of national programs below, but this is not an exhaustive list of organizations. You may find other local and state programs online by searching for the name of your city or state and terms such as
If hearing aids are required for employment, your state vocational rehabilitation office may offer assistance to pay for hearing aids or educational opportunities to improve your skill set. Search online for “[your state] vocational rehabilitation program” to find what you need.
Telephone: 1-866-956-5400 x2
Audient is an affiliate of the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight and Hearing and it’s administered by EPIC Hearing Healthcare. They provide hearing aids at partial cost to low income individuals across the U.S.
Gift of Hearing Foundation
The Starkey Hearing Foundation Hear Now Program
Toll Free: 1-800-328-8602
Hear Now is a national non-profit program committed to assisting permanent U.S. residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and have limited financial resources. Eligibility requirements, program details, and applications can be found on their website.
Help Me Hear Foundation
The Help Me Hear Foundation raises money in order to provide cochlear implants to children living in impoverished conditions and strives to relieve the burden on communities who are unable to address hearing loss in infants and young children.
Over 400 local service centers with varying services; some assist low-income adults and children with hearing aids and other rehabilitative devices. Visit their website and find your local office to get contact information.
Travelers Protective Association of America Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired
3755 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108
The TPA Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired provides financial aid to children and adults with hearing impairment who need assistance obtaining devices, medical treatment or specialized education or services. There are no age restrictions or requirements for degree of hearing loss; grants are based solely on financial need.
There are many national groups that have programs administered at the level of the local chapter. Not every local chapter participates in these hearing assistance projects, so you’ll have to contact the one in your area to determine if they can help. Some of the groups to consider are the Knights of Columbus, Lion’s Club, Rotary Club and Sertoma. If you’re not sure if you have a local group for any of these organizations, your hearing care professional can help you find these and other sources for financial assistance.
If you are unable to get a 3rd party to help pay for your hearing aids, you can consider programs that provide short term loans. Check with your hearing care provider for more details or consult with the following programs.
Assistive Technology Loan Programs
Many states have assistive technology financial loan programs through RESNA Alternative Financing and Telework Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP), a grant activity funded by Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education. The details of these programs vary by state and not all states have a program. In general, they help state residents with disabilities purchase assistive technology, including hearing aids and cochlear implants, by offering very affordable loans.
CareCredit is a patient finance program. CareCredit works like a credit card but is exclusive for healthcare services. It is accepted by over 75,000 providers in a wide range of services including hearing care, vision care, veterinary medicine, dentistry, cosmetic surgery and more. They offer monthly payment options, no up-front costs to patients, no prepayment penalties and no annual fees. Short-term, no-interest plans are available as well as longer term plans with fixed interest rates.
Many states have telecommunication distribution programs for people with hearing loss who require special equipment to use the telephone. These programs loan or provide Text Telephones (TTYs), amplified telephones and other equipment free of charge to residents with hearing loss or other disabilities that require it. A listing of programs by state can be found at www.tedpa.org and using the “State Directory” link. Contact your state program for more information about what equipment is provided, who is eligible for it and how to obtain it.
We hope this Hearing Help page on hearing aid insurance and funding will get you pointed in the right direction for finding hearing aid payment assistance. For assistance navigating your local funding resources, please contact a hearing health professional in your area.
This content was last reviewed on: April 15th, 2014