Managing the Loss of Insurance Coverage for Hearing after Turning 65

I’ve been wearing Phonak Audeo Paradise P90 hearing aids for about three years, Before I turned 65 in January, I had insurance coverage for hearing care that covered fees for audiology visits. (I used an audiologist in a medical clinic within my insurance company’s network.) I lost that coverage when I turned 65 and qualified for Medicare. My Medicare supplement policy doesn’t cover hearing care.

I’m sure there are others out there who lost insurance coverage for hearing care when you went on to Medicare. How did you manage it? Did you stay with the audiologist you had been using and simply self-pay? Who did you see to get hearing aid adjustments and firmware updates? I’m curious to know how others have managed this and how they minimized costs. Thanks

You say your insurance covered audiology visits. Did it cover the hearing aids themselves? Many audiologists make all their money on selling the HAs and provide unlimited visits for free. I know of no Medicare supplement policy that covers HAs, but I’m not an expert on that.

Costco works just like those audiologists, but their prices for the aids are much lower. How much lower? When I first saw an audiologist I nearly fell over at the cost of the same HAs you wear. I then found out that Costco sells virtually the same aid, manufactured by the same company, still provides unlimited visits, for $4000 less.

Phonak no longer sells HAs through Costco, but they sell other major brands at comparable low prices. They typically employ Hearing Instrument Specialists instead of audiologists (though some stores do have an audiologist on staff), but that seems to make no difference assuming your hearing situation isn’t too far out of the ordinary.

You can get into a top-line set of HAs for well under $2000 (my KS10s, the Phonak clone, were $1400), free visits and a two year extension beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. You won’t find a better deal. They will soon release a Kirkland Signature (Costco brand) KS11 that will be a re-branded major brand, and will likely be their best deal. Word on the street is that that might be in a month or so.


I second the Costco suggestion. I had one pair from them, an Oticon-associated product, and was extraordinarily satisfied with both the product, warranty and service. I may hold off buying Oticon Reals as my OPN S1 replacement for a month or two to see what Costco comes up with.


Some of us who are DIY inclined choose the DIY route and buy hearing aids of our choice from eBay (for a lower cost) and just program them ourselves. This is just a small minority, of course, but since you asked, I’m just throwing it out there.

Otherwise, the Costco suggestion is an excellent one, as long as you’re not too far from a Costco store.

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Got to be twenty long

Thanks for these responses. My post wasn’t aimed at identifying where I might go to buy new hearing aids. I’m happy with the ones I have and don’t expect to replace them for several years. My post was really aimed at trying to identify how best to get the audiology care to take care of the ones I have, i.e., getting firmware updates installed and getting the “tune-ups” that are necessary now and then.

I’m sure that ctromley is correct that “Many audiologists make all their money on selling the HAs and provide unlimited visits for free.” audiologist doesn’t work that way. She’s in the audiology department of a large medical clinic – she’s compensated by charging for patient visits, rather than getting a commission on the HAs she sells. It probably makes sense to simply self-pay for the “tune-up” services I’ll need for the life of my current hearing aids, and then buy the next pair from someplace like Costco.

My understanding is that audiologists who will work on a fee-for-service basis are rare, but they do exist. Finding one will take some digging, and as far as I know getting insurance to pay for it could be harder.

If you’re technically-oriented at all you might consider the DIY route. Right click on the avatar of forum user “pvc”, or select "Hearing Aid Self-Fitting and Adjusting [DIY] to get to the DIY world. You will need the Target software used to program Phonak hearing aids, and a Noalink Wireless Bluetooth programmer. ($125 - $175 on eBay, Amazon, etc.)

Then you hang out on the DIY forum to learn how these things work from the inside. It will take awhile. I have all that and am a retired engineer, but the farthest I’ve gotten is to read the original setup in my hearing aids so I can compare it to adjustments the Costco HIS made for me just recently. I didn’t really understand what he was doing or why during that last session, but I hope to gain a better grasp in time. I’m banking on the DIY forum to be my teacher.

Also worth knowing is that when I got my first assessment (after which I was knocked over at the costs I was looking at), that first visit pre-sale was paid out-of-pocket. Perhaps that’s common in the industry? It’s been suggested we should get a new test annually, so you could go to a new audiologist as a “first-time” patient, get tested, get your audiogram (which they are required to give you) and then program any changes into your aids.

Or if you can find a new audiologist at a clinic instead of a private practice, you can get fee-for-service care.