Will 2020 Be the Year Medicare Starts Covering Hearing Aids?

Even though Medicare itself does not directly cover HA’s, we just got a “come-on” brochure in the mail from a Medicare Advantage Plan vaguely advertising without the nitty-gritty specifics “Up to $3,000 per year for hearing aids.” Wife says since it’s a managed care plan for which the insurance company collects reimbursement from Medicare for managing your healthcare, making sure you only incur the care and expenses needed, and then as a “kickback” to you for signing up gives you the hearing aid benefit that Medicare currently won’t.

Just reporting on this - have no interest in either encouraging or discouraging anyone from signing up for any health plan but leave it to other folks themselve to decide what works best for them. Would be great if Medicare covered at least basic hearing aids perhaps with the individual having to contribute something themselves if they wanted an upgrade that was not deemed medically necessary for a certain standard of hearing (don’t know that the government needs to guarantee good hearing when dining out in restaurants or attending cocktail parties!).

That would sure be nice.

Especially since I’m hitting it next year.

I doubt it. Shoot, we can’t even get Medicare to cover basic preventive medicine such as an annual physical. I don’t expect to see them throwing thousands out there for hearing aids anytime in the foreseeable future.

I still don’t understand why Medicare pays for Cochlear Implant(s) operation that costs ten of thousands dollars a piece while a top end hearing aid costs 5 to 6 thousands dollars a pair. My healthcare provider provides 1500 dollars toward a pair of new aids each year.

Probably comes down to lobbying clout.

Here’s my take. Cochlear implants are a surgical procedure. Implantation of a medical device that has demonstrated some degree of effectiveness has long been covered by Medicare. Hearing aids are a device that does not require surgery, hospitalization or any intervention by a MD. To boot, most Medicare patients could likely benefit from them so it would be exceedingly expensive. Considering the overall political climate, I do not see this happening in 2020.

That looks like a good benefit and very close to what the VA provides for Veterans. Now if Congress would just fix the Prescription Drug programs and Medicare Part D…

As with “lost” hearing aids, if it were a total “freebie” under Medicare, I could see folks who really don’t want to wear HA’s just getting them, then turning around and selling them on the gray/black market on eBay, etc. So as with any good managed care system designed to prevent the relatively few (I hope) patients or doctors from abusing the system, there needs to be some oversight in any plan to make sure the devices are really needed and used appropriately by the patients receiving them - otherwise, as MDB points out, it’s a big sinkhole for taxpayer dollars and for naught to the patients who never really use them or turn around and do something else with them. But perhaps if everyone were eligible under Medicare, the gray/black market in devices would shrink enormously, although there would still be the under-65 folks, etc.