What Is Medicaid?
First things first—Medicaid is a government program designed to help low-income people access affordable medical care more easily across the United States. As of June 2021, the program covered 76.3 million adults. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid programs are administered by individual states, which means benefits look different, depending on your location. The federal government establishes certain parameters, but Medicaid coverage—including benefits for hearing aids—still varies from state to state.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid programs are administered by individual states, which means benefits look different, depending on your location.
The government has a program for eligible children, too. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health coverage to children who qualify and is administered through Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. Like Medicaid, the state operates CHIP according to federal requirements.
Medicaid Coverage for Hearing Aids
According to the Medicaid website, speech, hearing, and language disorder services for adults fall under what’s known as “optional benefits.” That means states are not required to offer coverage for these services, though many still do.
Does Medicaid Cover Hearing Aids for Adults?
Because hearing services are considered optional benefits, not all Medicaid programs cover hearing aids for adults. As of this writing, 22 states plus the District of Columbia do not offer hearing aid coverage for adults. To verify whether Medicaid covers hearing aids where you live, check your state’s Medicaid website. Keep in mind that some states have their own names for Medicaid programs.
Does Medicaid Cover Hearing Aids for Children?
Children’s hearing services fall under Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment Services (EPSDT). Per federal law, all states are required to offer them. These services include audiological assessments, hearing aid evaluations, and any medically necessary devices for young adults and children 21 and under. How often these services can be accessed will vary from state to state.
Does Medicaid Cover Hearing Tests?
Medicaid covers hearing tests (including audiological assessments and hearing evaluations) for children and young adults up to age 21. Some adults may also be covered for hearing tests, but it depends on where you live. You can check the Medicaid website for state overviews and links to your state’s benefits and coverage. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs in individual states are regularly changing and improving, so it’s worth checking frequently.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost with Medicaid?
The dollar amount of coverage offered by Medicaid for hearing aids varies, depending on where you live. In California, for example, the Medicaid health care program, Medi-Cal, currently pays up to $1,510 per person each fiscal year for hearing benefits, which includes hearing aids. Benefits include the initial batteries and molds and six visits with the same provider for fittings and adjustments after you’ve received your hearing aids. However, Medi-Cal doesn’t cover the cost of a hearing screening for adults over age 21.
All states with Medicaid programs covering hearing aids for adults have guidelines for beneficiaries and benefits.
Alternatives to Medicaid to Pay for Your Hearing Aids
If your state doesn’t offer Medicaid coverage for hearing aids, other insurance options and avenues are worth exploring to find hearing aids. Sarah A. Sydlowski, AuD, PhD, MBA, president of the American Academy of Audiology, noted that some resources in your area may include vocational rehabilitation services designed to keep people in the workforce, as well as hearing foundations that offer financial assistance. Some audiology offices may offer a sliding scale for patients with financial needs. Local speech and hearing centers, hearing aid banks, and religious organizations may also be resources. Additionally, if you’re a veteran, you may qualify for assistance from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Research confirms people don’t necessarily do a fantastic job perceiving their hearing loss to the correct degree.
As the first step for anyone who suspects they may have hearing loss, Sydlowski recommends seeing an audiologist for a hearing test. She says research confirms people don’t necessarily do a fantastic job perceiving their hearing loss to the correct degree. A diagnostic hearing test provides the information needed to decide on the next steps, including online hearing solutions.
“In the media, the price of hearing aids is often quoted as very high,” notes Sydlowski. Many companies are making hearing aids more affordable, and Sydlowski says they can be reasonable options, depending on the degree of hearing loss.
If Medicaid doesn’t pay for hearing aids in your state, you still have options. Online resources make hearing aids more affordable, and Sydlowski also recommends looking locally. “There can be comparatively affordable options from an audiologist,” she says. “The best plan is to have a diagnostic hearing test to find out your degree of hearing loss and your needs as far as the device goes. Be upfront about your concerns—financial, dexterity issues, cosmetic, programming, etc. Then, your audiologist can let you know about options. It’s more than just putting something in your ear—you need something that’s been properly programmed and fitted.”
- Medicaid is a government program based on financial needs. Individual states administer it, which means coverage varies depending on where you live.
- Hearing services are considered optional benefits for adults, so not all Medicaid programs cover hearing tests or hearing aids.
- Hearing services for children and young adults up to age 21 are considered “Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Services,” and all states are required to offer them. These services include audiological assessments, hearing aid evaluations, and any medically necessary devices.
- If Medicaid doesn’t cover hearing aids in your state, online platforms make it quick, easy, and affordable to get the testing and devices you need.