Hearing aids are generally not covered by medical insurance, though insurers sometimes offer optional hearing/vision/dental plans that may include coverage for hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.
Other options for paying for your hearing aids may include financing offered by your hearing care professional, credit from a third party like CareCredit, charitable organizations or help from family. Investigate all your options to find the best fit for your hearing needs and your budget.
Does insurance cover 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 to help uncover your options.
Coverage varies by plan
Most health insurers do not provide coverage for 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 23 states mandate health insurance companies provide full or partial hearing aid coverage for children. Five states also extend those mandates to adults.
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.
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.
Ask these questions when you call your insurance company about hearing aids:
Find out if you're eligible for the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BC/BS), they will cover up to $2500 for hearing aids every three years.
Always be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine if you or your loved one qualifies 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.
How do people pay for hearing aids?
In a study of trends in the hearing care industry, third-party funding for hearing aids through insurance has increased from 24 percent in 1989 to 40 percent in 2008. While encouraging, this still means that a majority of individuals who purchase hearing aids have to pay them out of pocket.
Here are the most commonly cited third-party funding sources in the study:
The proportion of people who reported each funding source is 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 this list provides you an idea of which sources to check if you need financial assistance to purchase hearing aids.
The Hearing Review, Vol. 16 (11), October 2009, pp.12-31.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
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.
Medicare and Medicaid coverage of hearing aids
Although participants in the study listed Medicare a source for third party payment for hearing aids, Medicare does not usually cover them. 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 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 or visit Medicaid's national website for more information.
Charitable and other assistance programs
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:
State vocational rehabilitation programs
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
Starkey Hearing Foundation: Hear Now program
Toll Free: 1-800-328-8602
Travelers Protective Association of America Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired
3755 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108
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.
Hearing aid financing
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.
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.
Help with amplified telephones
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 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.
Find a provider for more help
The information you find online about hearing aid insurance and funding can get you pointed in the right direction for finding hearing aid payment assistance. However, the best help for navigating your particular financial situation and your best resource for hearing aid funding sources will come from a local hearing care professional. Contact a hearing health professional in your area for help.