Financial Aid for Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

When insurance won't pay for hearing aids or won't pay the full cost of a cochlear implant and family income is too low to purchase hearing aids or an implant outright, what are you to do? One can turn to a variety of resources for help. There is no guarantee, though, that you will receive the help needed.

Mother fitting deaf son with hearing aid
Disability Images / Getty Images

Government and Schools

There are governmental sources that may pay for hearing aids for those who qualify.

  • Medicaid: Most state Medicaid programs will pay for hearing aids.
  • Veterans Affairs (VA): If you are a veteran with a service-connected disability of 10% or greater, hearing aids may be provided by the VA.
  • In some cases, state vocational rehabilitation agencies may pay for hearing aids for deaf clients.
  • If your family does not qualify for federal programs such as Medicaid, there may be a Children's Rehabilitative Services program (or something similar) under the state government that would pay.
  • Some state governments, such as South Dakota's Division of Rehabilitation Services, have cochlear implant programs to help both uninsured and insured people.

Sometimes you can get the school to provide hearing aids.

Healthcare Spending Plans

One of the best ways to pay for these needs yourself is through an employer-sponsored flexible medical spending account (FSA). These plans let you take money out of your pay pre-tax. This money is used to cover medical expenses not covered by your health insurance. Not all employers offer them, and only $500 can roll over from year to year.

Another way to pay is by opening a health savings account (HSA), which allows you save up money over a longer term to use for health expenses. However, to participate in an HSA, you must have a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP).

Organizations Providing Hearing Aid Assistance

Both independent organizations and social services organizations provide assistance. Plus, hearing aid banks provide used or refurbished hearing aids. Some of the most commonly turned-to sources of assistance are:

  • Lions Clubs: The Lions have a long history of providing financial assistance for hearing aids through either hearing aid banks or direct assistance. Not all Lions clubs, however, choose to support this endeavor.
  • Sertoma Clubs: Sertoma Clubs are also actively involved in providing assistance.

Foundations and organizations have been organized by parents of deaf/hard of hearing children and adult implantees. One organization is the California-based, which helps people to appeal insurance denials of coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants.

These additional sources of help may be available:

  • Fraternal Order of the Eagles: Members vote on whether to help.
  • Moose Lodge: Members vote on whether to help.
  • Masonic Lodge or Shriners

Ask your audiologist if they know of local or state organizations in your area that could provide assistance in obtaining hearing aids. Often, these providers will know of such resources.

Implant Centers and Charitable Programs

Implant centers may have charitable programs that provide free or reduced-cost cochlear implants. For example, if you live in Colorado, the Colorado Neurological Institute in Englewood has a Cochlear Implant Assistance Fund.

Manufacturers Providing Hearing Aid Assistance

A few hearing aid manufacturers have assistance programs of their own. Miracle-Ear Children's Foundation provides free hearing aids to low-income families through Miracle-Ear centers across the nation. Another one is the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

By Jamie Berke
 Jamie Berke is a deafness and hard of hearing expert.