While diagnostic hearing and balance exams are covered under Medicare Part B, Medicare does not, currently, proved coverage for hearing aids. This may come as a surprise to many, as nearly 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, bringing emotional, social and medical consequences with it. But that may change soon, thanks to a bill introduced by eight U.S. representatives this week.
The Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017, officially known as H.R. 3426, would expand Medicare coverage to include hearing aids. The proposed legislation directs the Government Accountability Office to study insurance programs that provide hearing aids and other services that help with hearing loss. Currently, only Medicare Advantage programs offer the opportunity for seniors to receive coverage for hearing aids and other services.
According to Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, the lack of coverage of hearing aids under Medicare can cost seniors anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000. Considering that hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in the country, it’s surprising that more coverage is not provided by Medicare for services that can help treat and prevent hearing problems. Older adults with hearing loss are 32% more likely to require hospitalization and face a 24% increased chance of cognitive impairment– in addition to suffering from isolation and depression.
The bill was introduced in late July and has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker. With the House of Representatives currently away on summer recess, there will be no new actions taken until September, at the earliest.
In addition to Rep. Dingell, the bill’s sponsors include Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Derek Kilmer of Washington, Doris Matsui of California, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Kathleen Rice of New York, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Louise Slaughter of New York.
Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Luckily, those on Medicare can now start saving on out of pocket expenses like prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, and more. Over 1 million people have already received their free Medicare Plus Card.(Read More...)