Would Medicare or Medicaid pay for replacement hearing aids?

Cejwinite asked...

I am applying for spend down Medicaid for my mom, 91, for while she was in a nursing home. She has just moved to assisted living. We live in NYC. The assisted living does not accept Medicaid, so we will be paying using Mom's Social Security and pension and a little from us. During her past stay in the hospital her hearing aids were lost. My question is, does Medicare, with NALC secondary cover any of the hearing aid cost? or Since this happened while she was in the nursing home will Medicaid pay?

Expert Answer

Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids. And since Medicare doesn't cover them, neither will your mother's Medicare supplemental insurance policy.

Medicaid might cover new hearing aids for your mother, but it depends on what Medicaid program she qualifies for, and when. Even if your mother qualifies retroactively for Medicaid nursing home coverage, for the earlier period when she was in a nursing home, that will not cover her need for hearing aids now. However, if she is now eligible for regular Medicaid medical coverage -- rather than nursing home coverage -- she would be covered for the cost of new or replacement hearing aids. (Not all state Medicaid programs cover hearing aids, but New York does.) That means that she needs to apply now for regular Medicaid coverage. Her eligibility will depend on her assets and income, and her Social Security plus pension income might put her over the income eligibility limit. However, if she has regular medical bills (not counting the cost of assisted living), she may still qualify for regular Medicaid medical coverage even if her income is higher than the state's Medicaid income eligibility limit. It's certainly worth applying.

There's one more place where you should consider seeking replacement for her hearing aids, and that's the hospital where she was when she lost them. The hospital may be legally responsible for the loss of your mother's hearing aids. Although most hospital admission forms release the hospital from liability for the loss of a patient's personal items, that may not apply to hearing aids, which are a medical device. Contact the hospital's administration about this, and if they are not cooperative, contact the hospital's patient ombudsman (every hospital has ombudsmen) whose job is to help patients work out problems with the hospital.