Does Medicare cover hearing tests?
This article was updated on: 09/10/2018
Hearing problems are very common as people age. In fact, one in three people ages 65 to 74 has some degree of hearing loss. That figure jumps to almost half for those 75 and over, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). If you or someone you love has trouble hearing, here’s what you need to know about Medicare and hearing tests. Although Medicare generally does not cover routine hearing tests, Medicare may cover certain diagnostic hearing and balance exams that are medically necessary.
What causes hearing loss?
According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, hearing loss in adults can have several different causes:
- Diseases of the middle and inner ear, such as Meniere’s Disease.
- Certain medications, such as drugs used in chemotherapy.
- Repeated exposure to loud noises.
- Certain tumors, such as acoustic neuroma.
- The aging process.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that age-related hearing loss tends to affect both ears equally and gradually worsens over time. In fact, some seniors may not even realize they are losing their ability to hear well.
A study reported in the U.S. National Library of Medicine showed a correlation between hearing loss and dementia, suggesting that older adults who experience hearing problems may be at increased risk for developing dementia.
There is no known way to prevent age-related hearing loss, however, the NIH suggests that you should limit your exposure to potentially damaging noises such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, loud music, firearms, and snowmobiles, for example. You can also protect your ears with ear plugs or ear muffs to reduce the potential damage from loud noises.
How is hearing loss diagnosed?
If you are having trouble hearing, see your health care provider. He may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) to determine if there is a medical cause for your hearing loss. You may also see an audiologist for a hearing test. Hearing tests can help identify the cause of the hearing loss and also measure its severity.
How is hearing loss treated?
Depending on the type and severity of your hearing loss, your doctor may recommend hearing aids to amplify sounds so you can hear them better. In some cases, if hearing aids aren’t effective or the hearing loss is more severe, your doctor may recommend cochlear implants. A cochlear implant is a tiny device surgically inserted into the inner ear to help produce a sense of sound. Your doctor may suggest implants for one or both ears, depending on your condition.
Does Medicare pay for hearing tests and hearing loss treatment?
Medicare may pay for your hearing test if your doctor orders it to diagnose a medical condition and determine the proper course of treatment.
In some cases, your doctor may also order a balance test to assess the function of the vestibular system in the inner ear.
If these tests are medically necessary, Medicare Part B may pay 80% of the allowable amount for these tests if you’ve met your Part B deductible for the year.
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) usually does not pay for hearing aids. It will also generally not pay for routine hearing tests or exams for fitting hearing aids.
Medicare Advantage (Part C), however, may provide coverage for routine hearing tests and hearing aids. Medicare Advantage is an alternative way to get your benefits under Original Medicare. These plans, which are offered by private insurance companies contracted with Medicare, must cover everything that Original Medicare covers (except for hospice care, which is still covered by Part A), but they may offer extra benefits such as routine vision, hearing, and dental care. Check your plan details to see if you have coverage for hearing tests and hearing aids.
Medicare may cover cochlear implants if you meet certain medical criteria. Your doctor can advise you whether or not you qualify for Medicare coverage for these devices if he or she recommends them to treat your hearing loss. For cochlear implants you generally pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount and you must go to a supplier that is enrolled in Medicare.
Need more information on Medicare coverage for a hearing test?
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