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I'm Sorry, Can You Repeat That?!?

We have had several clients ask recently about hearing aids and if Medicare covers them or not. The short answer is "No"! Original Medicare Parts A and B does not provide coverage for hearing aids nor does Medicare Supplement plans (Plan G). If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, some plans provide them as "extra benefits" but not all, and the extra benefits can vary from as low as $200 and as high as $1,500 per ear. Hearing aids have a wide range of prices too, from just a few hundred dollars all the way up to $5,000 per ear.

So, what are your options? Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you might need a hearing aid that requires a prescription from an Audiologist, or you might be able to use an OTC hearing device. OTC, what is over-the-counter? Yes, a few years ago the FDA created a new class of hearing devices that you can buy just like Aspirin at the pharmacy. These new over-the-counter hearing devices are for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss and will be FDA-regulated. These devices are coming soon, but with any federal regulation, timelines often move slow. The approval sets standards which manufacturers must have to be classified as an OTC device.

While we await these new device standards, there are personal sound amplification products available now. These devices have varying quality and prices, some selling for as low as $20 a pair, while high-tech models can run several hundred dollars. The personal sound amplifiers are not regulated by the FDA and cannot be marketed as hearing aids. But that can help if you have mild hearing loss. They are listed under PSAP devices and here is a list of things to consider when shopping for one.

Customization: Make sure the device allows you to adjustments. Being able to adjust the high-pitch or

low-pitch can help you improve the over sounds you hear like speech or music. o

Microphones: A device with several microphones helps pick up sound in multiple directions. A standard

microphone and a focused microphone for sounds like when you are talking to someone in front of you.

Noise cancellation: With several microphones, they can often pickup sounds you do not want to hear.

Noise canceling technology can help reduce the ambient sound around you when you are having a conversation with someone and help make the speech stand out for you.

Comfort: Since PSAPs, are not tailored to your ear specifically, they don't have the same comfort a hearing aid might have, but there are models that come with several size tips that can make there more comfortable to wear.

Hopefully this helps you find a reasonable alternative. We always recommend getting checked by your doctor if you are having problems hearing. If you want to know which plans provide a hearing aid benefit, contact the office for details.

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