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.
Does health insurance cover hearing aids?
Hearing aids are generally not covered by medical insurance, although 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.
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:
- A health plan may pay a specified amount toward the purchase of aids, like $500 or $1,000. This amount may be allowed toward the entire hearing aid purchase (whether one aid or two aids are purchased), or the amount may be allowed per ear. The benefit may renew after a given number of years, usually 3 to 5 years.
- A health plan may give you an allowance toward hearing aids if you purchase from a contracted provider. An allowance is a specified amount that is subtracted from the total purchase price. For example, if the cost of a pair of instruments is $4,000 and your health plan has a $1,500 allowance, your out-of-pocket cost would be $2,500. This benefit may also renew every few years.
- A health plan may have negotiated discounts with contracted providers. This means that you must purchase from a provider in order to get a specified discount (for example, 20%) off the retail price.
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 the 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 mandated health insurance companies provide full or partial hearing aid coverage for children. Five states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island) also extend those mandates to adults.
Check with your insurance provider to find out if you qualify for a hearing aid benefit.
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 seek.
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:
- What is the health plan benefit for hearing aids?
- Do I have to use specific providers, if so, may I have a list of providers in my area?
- If the health plan has an allowance or benefit, do I have to pay the provider the full amount and then submit paperwork to get reimbursed? Can the provider bill the health plan directly?
- Is the benefit limited to specific hearing aid models or technology? Ask your plan representative to specifically define terms such as “routine” hearing aids.
- Are there any criteria or stipulations for coverage? Some health plans may require that your hearing loss must be a certain degree in order to receive their benefits.
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 $2,500 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 don’t live in one of the mandated states, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have insurance coverage for hearing aids, it just means that your state laws don’t 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. Be sure to check with these types of organizations if you are a member to see if there is a benefit.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA is the 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 benefits and hearing-related services, including the provision of hearing aids.
Medicare and Medicaid coverage of hearing aids
Medicare does not usually cover hearing aids. You may have several options depending on the type of hearing loss and if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan. Read more about Medicare and hearing aids.
Medicaid coverage for adult hearing aids varies by state and eligibility is subject to change. This page from the Hearing Loss Association of America lets you look up Medicaid coverage for hearing care by state. You can also contact your state’s Medicaid program or visit Medicaid’s national website for more information. In every US state, children’s hearing aids are covered by Medicaid.
Workers’ compensation for hearing loss
If your hearing is damaged on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation to help cover the cost of hearing aids and other treatments.
Social security benefits for hearing loss
If your hearing loss is affecting your ability to work, you may be eligible for assistance through the Social Security trust fund.
Hearing aids are tax deductible, as are the most medical expenses. Your employer may also offer a health savings account (HSA), which lets you withdraw pre-tax dollars to pay for hearing aids. You can also use an HSA for hearing aid batteries, repairs and maintenance.
Discount programs for hearing aids
If you are a federal employee, the Federal Employee Health Plan covers medical problems with your ears, and some cover hearing aids, with the coverage varying among the plans. Discounts for some state employees are also available, and can be used with your insurance coverage.
You may qualify for discounts on your hearing aid purchase through your association with various memberships, such as AARP, AAA, your health plan, your vision plan or your union affiliation. Explore your options to find the best value.
I need a hearing aid but can’t afford it
Charitable and other assistance programs
Do you need help for hearing aids, or other hearing care assistance? There are many charitable groups that will provide new or used hearing aids at a discount, or even free, if you meet the financial criteria. We have provided a list of national programs below, but this is not an exhaustive list of organizations. We also recommend reviewing the financial assistance page from HLAA, the Hearing Loss Association of America.
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.
Over 400 local service centers with varying services; some assist low-income adults and children with hearing aids and other rehabilitative devices. Visit their website and find your local office to get contact information.
Travelers Protective Association of America Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired
3755 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108
The TPA Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired provides financial aid to children and adults with hearing impairment who need assistance obtaining devices, medical treatment or specialized education or services. There are no age restrictions or requirements for degree of hearing loss; grants are based solely on financial need.
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 third party to help pay for your hearing aids, you can consider programs that provide short-term loans or payment plans. 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. A CareCredit card can be used for hearing tests, hearing check-ups, hearing devices and fittings, implants, tinnitus care, ear protection and earmolds.
Insurance help for implantable hearing systems
If you are interested in an implantable bone-anchored hearing system, Oticon Medical provides insurance reimbursement information for their Ponto 4 system.
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 hearing care provider near you
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.