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Are hearing aids covered by insurance or Medicare?

Depending on the type of health insurance you have, your plan may partially or fully cover the cost of hearing aids.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jessica Hinson

Writtenm by

Dr. Jessica Hinson

Updated:

May 10, 2024

A variety of hearing aids in a man's hand. A variety of hearing aids in a man's hand.

The key takeaways

  • Private insurance plans don’t usually cover hearing aids — Some plans may cover the cost of assessments and fittings associated with hearing aids, but it’s rare for a policy to cover the devices themselves.
  • Federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid may be able to help — National insurance plans are not guaranteed to cover any of the costs associated with hearing aids, but some state programs offer partial or full coverage.
  • Hearing aid coverage varies by plan — Most providers offer varying levels of hearing aid coverage across several different plans. Coverage is often based on state laws, types of devices covered, and personal factors like a patient’s age and degree of hearing loss.

Are hearing aids covered by insurance?

Unfortunately, most private insurance plans don’t cover the costs of hearing aids. There are a few exceptions, however, depending on your insurance plan and your state.

For example, five states mandate that insurance companies pay for hearing aids: Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

There are exceptions, though, so it’s always best to contact your health insurance company to find the most accurate answer.

Medicare, Medicaid & hearing aid coverage

National programs like Medicare and Medicaid are designed to offer insurance coverage to particular groups of people. Medicare offers federal health insurance for people 65 or older, while Medicaid covers low-income individuals including adults, children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities.

You may be able to receive financial assistance for hearing aids through one of these programs, depending on your eligibility and the state you live in.

Does Medicare cover hearing aids?

Medicare coverage is intended exclusively for seniors age 65 and older, consisting of two parts known as Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

  • Part A. Covers hospital visits, select services at nursing facilities, and hospice care.
  • Part B. Covers doctor’s appointments and other outpatient services.

Both of these programs have nationwide standards in place for costs and coverage, but neither covers the cost of hearing aids or hearing aid fittings.

In some cases, Medicare Part B may be used to partially cover the cost of diagnostic hearing exams if a patient’s primary care provider orders them to help diagnose an underlying hearing issue. In these instances, patients are expected to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved cost for each exam.

Private insurance providers also offer Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D, which offer additional benefits to the services provided in parts A and B for vision, hearing, and dental care.

The terms of these programs vary by state, so you’ll need to contact a Medicare Advantage representative to see if your state’s program offers hearing aid coverage.

Dr. Jessica Hinson notes that most Medicare Advantage programs work with a third-party payer to provide discounted rates for hearing aids versus a large lump sum. These third-party payers mandate which audiologist or hearing instrument specialist you must see, and this provider typically provides a few free adjustment visits after an initial hearing aid fitting.

Once the free adjustment visits are used, patients pay the provider out-of-pocket for future appointments.

Dr. Hinson says that because of this model, it’s important to evaluate and plan for the total cost for a hearing aid over time, not just the initial out-of-pocket charge.

Does Medicaid cover hearing aids?

Medicaid is a form of national health insurance available to low-income individuals of all ages, covering millions of adults, children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities around the U.S. Unlike standard Medicare, Medicaid coverage varies by state.

While some states cover part or the entire cost of a patient’s hearing aids, and the associated exams and maintenance, other states don’t offer beneficiaries any coverage for assistive hearing devices.

Contact your state’s Medicaid office to learn more about the terms of your coverage. You can also use this list from the Hearing Loss Association of America to see what your state’s Medicaid program covers.

Other types of insurance and hearing aid coverage

The majority of Americans (about 54.7% of the population, or 179 million people) enjoy access to private insurance plans, either through full-time employment or out-of-pocket payments.

While some private insurance providers include coverage for hearing aids and exams in their standard plans, others only offer it for an additional cost through a separate supplemental program.

Active duty military and their dependents may receive partial to full coverage on their hearing aids through TriCare Prime. If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for free prescription hearing aids through your local VA office.

To qualify, you must obtain a hearing test from an audiologist and meet with your VA coordinator to learn more.

State-specific mandates

Healthcare laws in 20 states require private insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids for children. In Wisconsin, insurance companies must cover the cost of hearing aids and cochlear implants for children.

Your state’s vocational rehabilitation program may provide free or discounted hearing aids based on your income and depending on how your hearing loss has impacted your job.

Only five states require providers to cover the cost of hearing aids for adults. This list from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association breaks down the specifics of these mandates in their respective states.

👉 Some insurance plans are exempt from state mandates. Contact your plan administrator to see if your plan includes any state-mandated hearing benefits. 

Does private insurance cover hearing aids?

Experts estimate less than half of private insurance plans offer patients some form of hearing benefits. We break down plans from the biggest providers below.

Aetna

Most Aetna plans don’t cover hearing aids, requiring patients to pay 100% of the costs of the devices, as well as the costs of associated exams and fittings.

However, they do work with Medicare Advantage to offer some members coverage for over-the-counter or prescription hearing aids as long as they’re deemed medically necessary.

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield hearing benefits vary widely by state. Notably, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield offers seniors a Medicare Advantage plan that may cover the cost of hearing aids.

The company also offers partial hearing aid coverage through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Plan (FEP), which grants members a $2,500 allowance every five years to help pay for hearing aids and any associated costs.

In addition, FEP members can access discounted hearing aids through the company’s Blue365 program, which also grants access to several other health and wellness benefits.

Cigna

Certain Cigna plans do offer hearing aid coverage. However, benefits vary depending upon the member’s location and type of insurance. Like other private insurance companies, Cigna also offers Medicare Advantage plans that include hearing care as a supplemental benefit.

Humana

Humana mainly offers Medicare plans to senior patients. The company’s Medicare Advantage plans include hearing care coverage through the Humana Extend program, which bundles vision, dental, and hearing benefits in one convenient package.

UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare offers members full coverage on yearly hearing exams, as well as discounted offerings from prescription hearing aid manufacturers through their supplemental hearing plan.

Copays under UnitedHealthcare Hearing range from $175 to $1,225 per hearing aid, covering up to two devices per year.

Employee-sponsored insurance and hearing aids

Employee-sponsored insurance is private insurance offered to a person and their dependents through their full-time employer. These are commonly offered as work benefits in which the employer covers most or all of the employee’s monthly premium.

This type of insurance is most common in large companies with 200 or more employees. It may be presented in the form of a single group plan or multiple plans from which the employee can choose in exchange for different monthly premium rates.

Payment for employee-sponsored insurance is commonly deducted from the employee’s paychecks. In cases where multiple plans are available, cheaper plans result in smaller deductions.

Most employee-sponsored plans are available through the private insurance providers listed above, and many do not cover hearing aids. Check with your employer and insurance provider to learn more about the specifics of your plan.

Supplemental insurance and hearing aids

Some of the providers outlined above offer supplemental insurance programs to cover vision, dental, and hearing services. These are available to members for an additional monthly premium but may be worth it to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of hearing aids.

Check the provider’s website to learn more about any supplemental insurance they might offer.

How to find out if your insurance plan covers hearing aids

Calling your insurance company gives you the most accurate picture of your coverage. Knowing what questions to ask beforehand helps you stay informed and receive all of the information you’ll need to plan for your hearing aids.

Some questions you might want to ask your insurance provider include:

  1. Does my current insurance policy cover hearing aids?
  2. Will my insurance policy pay for assessments and fittings?
  3. Are hearing aids considered an elective or cosmetic device, according to my coverage policy?
  4. Do I need to go to a specific provider to receive coverage?

Unfortunately, many insurance companies don’t consider hearing aids to be a medical necessity, labeling them as cosmetic or elective devices. Hopefully this will change in the near future, as research has repeatedly shown that there’s a direct correlation between hearing loss and a reduced quality of life.

Factors that affect hearing aid coverage

While the terms of each insurance plan vary widely, the extent of the hearing coverage they offer tends to hinge upon a few key factors, including the type of hearing aids covered (prescription or over the counter), degree of the patient’s hearing loss, age of the patient, and any state-specific mandates in place related to hearing coverage.

Type of hearing aid

In 2022, the FDA approved the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in hopes of making assistive technology more accessible and affordable to people who might not have the insurance or income necessary to pay for the latest prescription models. Some models are available for as low as $200 per pair.

OTC hearing aids are markedly cheaper than an average pair of prescription hearing aids. However, OTC models are not regulated by the FDA like prescription models are, which can result in performance issues and limited access to professional support.

Insurance plans with hearing benefits tend to cover prescription hearing aids more than OTC hearing aids — but there are some plans that will cover both. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about what types of hearing aids are covered under your plan.

Degree of hearing loss

Many insurance plans with hearing benefits will only cover the cost of hearing aids if they’re deemed medically necessary by a hearing care specialist. This usually means the patient must be suffering from a moderate to profound level of sensorineural hearing loss (the most common type of hearing loss caused by aging, trauma, disorders, or infections).

An in-person visit with an audiologist is the best way to assess your degree and cause of hearing loss and determine whether or not you’re eligible for hearing aid coverage under your insurance plan.

Age of the hearing loss patient

While some insurance plans may offer hearing benefits to patients of all ages, many are intended primarily for older adults over the age of 65. This includes Medicare programs like Medicare Advantage.

Additionally, federal law mandates that insurance plans must cover the cost of hearing aids for children with hearing loss (anyone under the age of 18).

Finding affordable hearing aids without insurance

The FDA’s approval of over-the-counter hearing aids has made it possible for patients to find great deals on discounted hearing aids, both online and in stores at big-box retailers.

There are also nonprofit organizations across the U.S. dedicated to helping people in need access quality hearing aids at affordable prices.

Big-box stores

Big-box stores like Walgreens, Costco, and Target offer OTC hearing aids from reputable brands like Lexie and HearingAssist at competitive prices. Many of these retailers also offer trial periods so users can test out their hearing aids before putting any money down, as well as free services like screenings, cleanings, and check-ups.

Audiologists.org

Audiologists.org features reviews on leading prescription and OTC hearing aid manufacturers including Jabra Enhance, Sony, and Go Hearing, with in-depth explanations of pricing and monthly financing options for each.

You can also use the Audiologist Explorer feature to find the best local specialists for your age and degree of hearing loss.

Charities

Charities and organizations including Help America Hear, the Miracle-Ear Foundation, and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, dedicate themselves to providing quality hearing instruments to low-income individuals free of charge.

While anyone is free to apply to these programs, many of them reserve aid for those who have exhausted all other resources for their hearing health, including state Medicaid programs, vocational rehab facilities, and/or hearing assistance offered by the Veteran’s Health Association.

Other charities, grants, and scholarships for free hearing aids can be found on EarCommunity.org.

Most health insurance policies are notorious for excluding coverage on several basic health needs, including hearing aids. This will hopefully change as research continues to show a strong correlation between overall health and hearing health, but there are still plenty of ways to access affordable hearing aids today.

Carefully read through multiple insurance plans before committing to one to ensure you’re enrolling in a plan that will help cut the cost of hearing aids if and when you need them.

Why hearing aids matter

It’s no secret that hearing aids can be expensive, especially when you start getting into premium offerings from brands like Phonak, Signia, and Starkey. However, many patients find the initial investment to be well worth it once they start incorporating the devices into their daily lives

Hearing loss affects much more than a person’s ability to pick up certain frequencies — many patients find their condition significantly impacts their social interactions, mental health, and overall quality of life.

People with particularly severe cases can experience depression and cognitive overload, leading them to withdraw from conversations and other social activities. Hearing aids mitigate these symptoms by amplifying hard-to-hear frequencies,  simultaneously restoring a person’s confidence and mental clarity.

Frequently asked questions

Are OTC hearing aids covered by insurance?

The big insurance companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield don’t cover OTC hearing aids. You may be able to secure a supplemental plan like Eargo to help you pay for OTC hearing aids in addition to your conventional insurance plan.

Does Medicare cover hearing aids in 2024?

Medicare offers low-cost health insurance for seniors who are 65 and older. Neither Medicare Plan A or Plan B cover hearing aids or the costs associated with them. Medicare C and D offer extra coverage for dental, vision, and hearing but rarely pay for hearing aid devices themselves.

Does Medicaid cover hearing aids in 2024? 

Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income individuals regardless of age. State laws determine coverage, so it’s best to reach out to your state’s Medicaid representative for details. In some states, hearing aids may be completely covered.

Are hearing aids generally covered by insurance?

No. Most medical insurance policies don’t include coverage for hearing aids, though some private insurers do offer supplemental plans that cover services like vision, dental, and hearing for an additional charge.

Why aren’t hearing aids covered by insurance? 

Many private insurance plans only cover services deemed medically necessary, such as hospital care, prescription drugs, and standard doctor’s visits. Providers too often consider hearing aids to be optional, resulting in their exclusion from most insurance plans today.

How much does an average set of hearing aids cost?

An average pair of over-the-counter hearing aids currently retails for around $1,600, while the average price for prescription models is a bit more expensive at $2,300 per pair.

What is the new hearing aid law?

In October 2022, the FDA approved the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids both online and at big-box stores across the country. The law was passed in hopes of making hearing aid technology more accessible to low-income and uninsured individuals, though it has also resulted in some issues with the quality of subsequent OTC models. Additionally, OTC hearing aid patients often don’t have access to consultations with licensed audiologists.

Does Costco accept insurance for hearing aids?

Unfortunately, no. Costco doesn’t accept health insurance to cover the cost of their hearing aids, and most insurance providers won’t reimburse patients for hearing aids bought through Costco.