Where Can I Get Help With What Medicare Doesn't Cover?
Q: I'm new to Medicare. I didn't realize that Medicare doesn't cover eye or hearing exams like my former insurance at work. My income is pretty low. Where can I go to get these services?
A: Misconceptions about Medicare coverage are very widespread. New beneficiaries and their families are frequently surprised when they learn what Medicare doesn't cover. Routine eye examinations, eyeglasses and lenses, hearing exams and hearing aids are among the services generally excluded from the core benefits covered by original Medicare.
Here's where to go for help with these services:
- Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are administered by private insurers and cover all your Medicare Part A hospital, Part B doctors benefits. Many include Part D prescription drug benefits as well. They may also include coverage for benefits that aren't covered by Medicare, like vision or hearing services, as part of the premium, or you may pay extra for the coverage. You can enroll during your initial Medicare enrollment period or during the fall Open Enrollment Period that runs from October 15 through December 7. To learn more about Medicare Advantage plans in your area, check your 2014 copy of Medicare & You. Call Medicare toll free at 1-800- MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit Medicare.gov.
- EyeCare America®. This is a service of the Foundations of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which provides free eye exams and up to one year of care for low-income individuals who qualify. Learn more at www.eyecareamerica.org or call 1-877-877-6327.
- Local Lion's Club. Local chapters may have programs to assist people with severe vision impairment, and some clubs run the Affordable Hearing Aid Project, which distributes three types of affordable hearing aids. To find contact details for your local chapter, visit: Lions Club Directory.
- Sertoma. This civic organization helps connect you with hearing assistance. To conduct a search, visit Sertoma.
- The Foundation for Sight and Sound. Through its Help America Hear Program the foundation provides hearing aids for people with limited financial resources. To learn if you qualify, visit: Help America Hear Program or call 631-366-3461.
- BenefitsCheckUp®. BenefitsCheckUp.org is the nation's most comprehensive free, online service to screen Medicare beneficiaries with limited incomes. For benefits programs, visit Benefitscheckup.org.
- Eldercare Locator. This public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connects you to services for seniors and their families in your community. Call 1-800-677-1116.