Written by Cara Everett, MS, RDN
Medical Reviewer: Brian Murray, HIS
Reviewed by Brandy Bauer, Director, NCOA’s MIPPA (Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act) Resource Center
Hearing loss touches the lives of millions of Americans, affecting 23% of people over the age of 12 and 75% of those 70 and older.1 Although hearing loss can have far-reaching implications for overall health and quality of life, research shows only about one in seven people who have trouble hearing seek treatment.2 While many other health conditions are covered by private health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, this isn’t always the case when it comes to hearing loss—which may deter people from seeking hearing care.
Insurance coverage for hearing aids may be sparse, but let’s take a look at what insurance providers, government leaders, advocacy organizations, and hearing aid companies are doing to help improve insurance coverage for hearing aids. We’ll also explain how you can save money on hearing aids if your insurance company doesn’t provide coverage.
Does insurance cover hearing aids?
Insurance usually does not cover the cost of hearing aids—but coverage varies. Some private insurance and Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for hearing exams and hearing aids, while others offer it as a separate benefit, similar to vision or dental coverage.
Do Medicare and Medicaid cover hearing aids?
Medicare and Medicaid may cover hearing aids, but it depends. Let’s take a closer look.
Which states require insurance companies to cover hearing aids?
Health care laws in 20 states require insurance companies to pay for hearing aids for children, but only five states mandate insurance coverage of hearing aids for adults, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.3 Check the list of the five states below:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Medicare hearing aid coverage
Medicare Parts A and B do not currently cover the cost of hearing aids.4 But Part B does cover diagnostic hearing and balance exams if ordered by a doctor as part of your medical treatment, and it also covers the cost of annual hearing exams.5
The good news is Medicare coverage of hearing aids may be expanding soon. In partnership with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. reintroduced the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act in January 2023. If it passes, the bill would remove Social Security restrictions that currently prohibit Medicare from paying for hearing aids.
Currently, some Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, provide hearing benefits. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, contact your insurance plan provider to see if it includes benefits for hearing care.
For more details on Medicare and hearing aids, read our article on Medicare coverage of hearing aids. In addition, NCOA can also help you understand Medicare enrollment and coverage with the AgeWell Planner.
Medicaid hearing aid coverage
Medicaid provides hearing care benefits in some states. The Hearing Loss Association of America lists the types of hearing coverage offered by Medicaid in each state.6
Does Tricare pay for hearing aids?
Tricare, a health insurance provider for military service members and their families, does not currently cover hearing aids or hearing care services.
Private insurance coverage for hearing aids
Hearing aids are considered optional by many private insurance companies and as such, they aren’t always included as part of standard health care coverage.
But Jacquelyn Lovitt, AuD, from the Capital Institute of Hearing and Balance in Silver Spring, Maryland, said about half of the health insurance providers she works with offer hearing benefits. In some cases, you’ll have to pay extra for hearing coverage, similar to plans that offer vision or dental benefits for an additional charge.
Let’s take a look at the hearing benefits offered by some of the most common health insurance providers. Keep in mind that depending on your plan, you may be responsible for a copay and/or meeting a yearly deductible.
Most Aetna plans exclude or do not cover hearing aids. Some plans do provide payment for prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids if they are deemed medically necessary.7
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Hearing benefits through Blue Cross Blue Shield vary widely from state to state. Some Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plans do offer hearing aid coverage. Check with your health insurance provider for more details.
In addition, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program (FEP) includes an allowance of $2,500 every five years to help pay for hearing aids and supplies. FEP members can also get hearing aids at discounted prices through the Blue365 Discount program.8
Certain Cigna health insurance plans include hearing benefits. Check with your insurance provider to see what hearing benefits your plan provides.
Many Humana Medicare Advantage plans include hearing care coverage through an option called Humana Extend, which bundles vision, dental, and hearing benefits. Check with your health insurance provider for details, or shop for plans that include these benefits on the Humana website.
United Healthcare offers hearing aid coverage for all major prescription brands. You can take a three-minute online hearing screening on the website, which will then take you through the steps to find a hearing care provider in your area to determine which hearing aids are the best choice for your needs.
Are OTC hearing aids covered by insurance?
OTC hearing aids became available in October 2022, following the release of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rule, which outlined regulatory guidelines for the new category.9 Based on our Reviews Team’s research, OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, with a general price range of $299–$2,500 per pair.
Compared to the average price of $4,600 for a pair of prescription hearing aids, OTC devices can potentially save you a lot of money.10 But all hearing aids are expensive, and it’s definitely worth checking to see if your insurance plan will pay for part or all of the cost.
Keep in mind OTC hearing aids are only appropriate for adults 18 and over with mild to moderate hearing loss. You can purchase them without a hearing exam or prescription, although in-person hearing exams are a great idea before buying any type of hearing aid.
Some hearing clinics offer exams free of charge, and many insurance plans (even those that don’t pay for hearing aids) will pay for a hearing exam. The exam usually lasts about an hour, is painless, and doesn’t place you under any obligation to buy a hearing aid. It does give a hearing specialist the chance to examine your ears and hearing ability and rule out any causes of hearing loss that may need treatment other than hearing aids.
In-person exams also provide a much more detailed measurement of your hearing loss profile, so you can find the hearing aid that will best meet your needs and preferences.
If you’ve determined you do have mild to moderate hearing loss that can be treated with OTC devices, the next step is to see which brands may be covered by insurance. While most insurance plans don’t currently cover OTC hearing aids, there are a few plans that do.
OTC hearing aids your insurance may pay for
Eargo and NationsBenefits formed a partnership in December 2022 to help customers pay for hearing aids. NationsBenefits administers supplemental benefits for a variety of insurance providers. If you’re interested in buying Eargo hearing aids, check with your insurance company to see if you have supplemental hearing benefits administered through NationsBenefits and where the nearest in-network hearing care provider is located.
MDHearing is another OTC hearing aids company that recently partnered with a health insurance company. Joining forces with Medline in February 2023, MDHearing and Medline are working to improve access to hearing aids by increasing Medicare Advantage and Medicaid coverage for MDHearing devices.
We spoke with Katie Lavelle, director of business development and insurance benefits at Medline, who said customers can look for these benefits to go into effect in 2024. Read our MDHearing aids review for more details on this brand.
Hopefully, we’ll see Medicare and private insurance plans expand coverage for OTC hearing aids in the next few years.
Why hearing aids are important for overall health
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates almost 38 million American adults need help with their hearing.11 Not only does hearing loss affect day-to-day life and the quality of relationships, but research shows it can also raise risk of falls,12 depression,13 and even dementia.14
That’s because hearing health and brain health are closely linked. “Your brain changes when you have hearing loss,” said Lovitt. “There are studies that show that the brain can reorganize itself when you wear hearing aids and you get adequate auditory stimulation.”
Although hearing aids are a major purchase, it’s worth pursuing treatment for hearing health to improve your quality of life, the time you spend with family and friends, and your overall health.
How to find out if your insurance plan covers hearing aids
When setting a budget for your hearing aids purchase and starting your search, it’s wise to call your health insurance company to see what hearing benefits your plan includes. You can find the customer service phone number on your insurance card.
Before you call, have the following information ready:
- Health insurance ID number
- Your audiogram and hearing aid prescription (if you’ve had an in-person hearing exam)
- The hearing aid brands and models you’re interested in purchasing
When you call, ask the following questions:
- Does my insurance plan include hearing benefits?
- Will my plan pay for hearing exams, hearing aids, and/or hearing aid supplies, like batteries? (Some plans include coverage for hearing exams but not hearing aids.)
- How much does my plan pay for each service or hearing aid, and is there a limit on how often I can buy new hearing aids? (For example, some insurance plans only pay for new hearing aids every five years.)
- Does my hearing benefit cover both prescription and OTC hearing aids?
- Do I need to get hearing services and supplies from a hearing clinic to use my insurance benefits?
- Is my hearing benefit the same in and out of network?
- Is my hearing benefit subject to a deductible?
- Is there a maximum allowable amount for hearing aids?
- Is there a coinsurance?
- Are there specific hearing providers I need to see to use my benefit?
What if your insurance plan doesn’t offer hearing benefits?
As we’ve seen, hearing benefits vary widely among insurance companies and plans. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary or are eligible for Medicare and your current insurance plan doesn’t include a hearing benefit, there are steps you can take.
Our Reviews Team spoke with a Medicare representative who explained how to search for Medicare Advantage plans that offer hearing benefits.
- Start by going to the Medicare.gov website and clicking on ‘Health and Drug Plans’ at the top.
- From the drop-down menu, click on ‘Find Health and Drug Plans.’
- Enter your ZIP code to see Medicare Advantage plans available in your area. Each plan will list the benefits it includes with a green check mark next to each one.
You can add or change Medicare plans at certain times of the year during the open enrollment periods. Read our article on Medicare Open Enrollment for more information.
Buying hearing aids without insurance
If you don’t have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance benefits to help with your hearing aids purchase, you can lower the cost by using one or more of the options below. We’ve highlighted government benefits, discounts for members of national organizations, and ways to use tax-free dollars and payment plans. All of these methods can help make hearing aids more affordable.
AARP hearing aid discounts
AARP members covered by a United Healthcare plan are eligible for the following benefits:
- Free hearing exams
- Discount of 20% on hearing aids
- Discount of 15% on hearing aid accessories
FSA and HSA funds
Because hearing aids are medical devices, you can use money from a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay for them.15
Indian health service
The federal government provides audiology services for American Indians and Alaska Natives at clinics across the country. Use the Indian Health Service website to locate a clinic in your area.16
Labor union stipends for government employees
The American Federation of Government Employees offers hearing aid discounts and free exams for its members on a number of prescription hearing aids, including some of the top brands, like Phonak, Starkey, ReSound, Oticon, and Widex.17
Through the Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project, the Lions Club offers its members discounted prices on Rexton hearing aids, a brand sold at Costco and other hearing care clinics. If you are a Lions Club member, contact your local Lions Club to find out more about this program.
State vocational rehabilitation programs
Vocational rehab programs in many states will provide payment for hearing aids if you need them to get a job or to keep your current job. Contact the vocational rehab program in your state to see if they provide this benefit.
U.S. veterans who receive health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can also get hearing exams, hearing aids, and hearing aid supplies at no charge.18 Go to the U.S. Veterans Affairs website for more information.
The Non Commissioned Officers Association also provides hearing care benefits to its members and their families.19
Financing and subscription plans
Many hearing care clinics that sell prescription hearing aids offer financing to allow you to spread payments out over months or years. Most OTC hearing aid manufacturers provide financing as well, as do third-party retailers that sell hearing aids, such as Best Buy, Walgreens, and Walmart.
Two OTC hearing aid companies offering subscription plans are Lexie Hearing and Audicus. Both of these manufacturers produce quality hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss and give you the option to pay by the month rather than paying an upfront price.
Read our review of the seven best OTC hearing aids of 2023 for more information on Lexie, Audicus, and other OTC hearing aid brands.
Hearing aid charities
A number of organizations help people fit the cost of hearing aids into their budget. Check out this list of financial aid resources for hearing aids:
When it comes to the question of “are hearing aids covered by insurance?” the answer is usually no.
Insurance coverage for hearing aids isn’t universal, but many Medicare Advantage and private insurance plans now provide benefits for hearing care. As research continues to uncover links between hearing ability and overall health, and advocates like NCOA speak up for Medicare hearing care coverage, we’ll hopefully see an increasing number of insurance providers include this benefit in insurance plans.
In the meantime, use the tips in this article to find out which benefits your insurance plan provides and shop around for an insurance plan that offers coverage for hearing aids if you need them.
And remember, your ability to hear is just as important as your ability to see. If you need help hearing, don’t wait to seek treatment. Read our complete hearing aid buyer’s guide for 2023 for more information on how hearing aids work and ways to get started on your journey to better hearing health.
Frequently asked questions
Have questions about this review? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Goman, AM and Lin, FR. Prevalence of Hearing Loss by Severity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health. Oct. 2016. Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5024365/
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Hiddens Risks of Hearing Loss. Found on the internet at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-hidden-risks-of-hearing-loss
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. State Insurance Mandates for Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at https://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/issues/ha_reimbursement/
- Medicare.gov. Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/hearing-aids
- Medicare.gov. Hearing and Balance Exams. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/hearing-balance-exams
- Hearing Loss Association of America. Medicaid. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/financial-assistance/medicaid/
- Aetna. Hearing Aids. Aug. 8, 2022. Found on the internet at https://www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/600_699/0612.html
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program. Choose the Right Plan. Found on the internet at https://www.fepblue.org/our-plans/medicare/compare-plans
- Federal Register. Medical Devices; Ear, Nose, and Throat: Establishing Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids. Aug. 17, 2022. Found on the internet at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/08/17/2022-17230/medical-devices-ear-nose-and-throat-devices-establishing-over-the-counter-hearing-aids
- White House. FDA Takes Action to Deliver Lower-Cost, Innovative Hearing Aids to Millions More Americans. Found on the internet at Dec. 7, 2016. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/07/fda-takes-action-deliver-lower-cost-innovative-hearing-aids-millions-more-americans
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Quick Statistics About Hearing. March 25, 2021. Found on the internet at https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing
- Lin, F and Ferrucci, L. Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States. Archives of Internal Medicine. Feb. 7, 2012. Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3518403/
- Lawrence, BJ, et al. Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Gerontologist. March 5, 2019. Found on the internet at https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/60/3/e137/5369884?login=false
- Lin, F, et al. Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. Archives of Neurology. February 2011. Found on the internet at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/802291
- IRS. Publication 969 (2022). Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans. Feb. 1, 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969#en_US_2021_publink1000204042
- Indian Health Service. Find Health Care. Found on the internet at https://www.ihs.gov/findhealthcare/
- American Federation of Government Employees. Hearing Aid Discounts. Found on the internet at https://www.afge.org/member-benefits/health/hearing-care-discounts/
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rehabilitation and prosthetic services. Found on the internet at https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/hearing_aids.asp
- Non Commissioned Officers Association. Start Hearing. Dec. 20, 2022. Found on the internet at https://www.ncoausa.org/benefitsblog/american-hearing-benefits