Hearing benefits may be added to Medicare

December 13, 2021

Right now, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are debating the budget and considering adding a Medicare hearing benefit to the president’s $1.75 trillion domestic spending bill.

According to Fierce Healthcare, hearing loss can lead to loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety, communication disorders and more in seniors. The National Institutes of Health reports about one-third of Americans 65 to 74 years, and nearly half of those older than 75 have hearing loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly one-third of people 65 and older have a hard time hearing even with a hearing aid.

If the current proposal passes, traditional Medicare plans would cover hearing-assessment services, management of hearing loss and treatment to traditional Medicare. That includes coverage of hearing aids for those diagnosed with “moderately severe, severe, or profound hearing loss.” The Food and Drug Administration separately is pushing to make hearing aids available over the counter, and, hopefully, cheaper.

Getting the bill passed won’t be easy. Democrats need all 50 Democratic senators to support the bill and can only lose three members of the House. Adding dental and vision benefits under Medicare was proposed but didn’t make the cut.

“In Vermont and all over this country, you’ve got senior citizens whose teeth are rotting in their mouth, older people who can’t talk to their grandchildren because they can’t hear them because they can’t afford a hearing aid, and people can’t read a newspaper because they can’t afford glasses,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., said on NBC earlier this year. “So to say that dental care and hearing aids and eyeglasses should be a part of Medicare makes all the sense in the world.”