Does Tricare for Life cover hearing aid testing and hearing aids if needed?
Neither Medicare nor Tricare Standard, the two components of Tricare for Life, cover routine hearing tests or hearing aids. Similarly, neither Medicare nor Tricare Standard will pay for routine eye exams or eyeglasses.
In the case of Medicare, some diagnostic hearing exams are covered by Medicare Part B, but only when they are ordered by a doctor. Also, if a hearing problem is due to a specific injury or disease — such as removal of a brain tumor or a head injury — Medicare may cover the charges in those cases.
In the case of Tricare, hearing aids are covered only for active-duty family members who suffer “profound” hearing loss based on specific criteria.
Many Medicare Part C (“Medigap”) insurance policies and Tricare “supplemental” policies specifically cover hearing and eye exams, and hearing aids and eyeglasses, precisely because Medicare and Tricare do not. But before you consider buying such a backup plan, it’s very important to read all the fine print and do some basic math to make sure that the supplemental plan’s monthly premiums and cost shares won’t end up costing you more money than if you simply paid the costs out of your own pocket.
Q. Is there any coverage for hearing aids under Tricare for Life? I think the answer is “no,” but I’m just checking.
You are right that federal law doesn’t let Tricare pay for hearing aids, just like it can’t pay for glasses, either. But it’s not quite as bad as you might think.
There is a program called RACHAP (Retiree At Cost Hearing Aid Program) that allows retirees only (not their family members) to buy hearing aids at the government’s cost. It is not related to Tricare in any way.
I haven’t had any dealings with them or talked with anybody who has. In fact, I’d appreciate it if you tell me what happens when you contact them and whether it works to your satisfaction. Good hearing aids are expensive, so even with the government’s discount, you are going to have some pocket-book pain.