Last week in Aging With Geekitude, Erica shared tips for undoing embarrassing and costly errors on your computer and smartphone. This week, she’s sharing her new favorite website — a great resource for anyone who needs hearing aid information. (Also see Erica Manfred’s article, “The Latest in Hearing Aids and Hearables”)
I wish I’d known about the Hearing Aid Forums before I bought hearing aids.
I got my hearing aids from the audiology department at a local university. They weren’t astronomically expensive, but $2500 for two seemed pretty astronomical to me. The audiologist handed them to me and that was that. After surfing the Hearing Aid Forums I found out that digital hearing aids are adjustable by the user and that all this time, I could have been making all kinds of little adjustments. I also learned that I could have gotten a much better deal at Costco.
Here’s another thing I learned: The reason 80 percent of hard of hearing Americans find hearing aids too pricey to bother with might have something to do with the fact that they’re sold by only a few companies that keep a monopolistic control over the prices. Audiologists are the middlemen who also get a big cut.
But you won’t find that information – or advice on how to save money – on most sites, because hearing aids are marketed so aggressively that it’s hard to find informative sites that aren’t promoting one company’s product over another. Government and nonprofit sites such as the National Institute on Deafness only give very basic information.
Why the Hearing Aid Forums Should Be Your Go-To Info Source
On the other hand, on the Hearing Aid Forums – a site run by a hearing aid battery seller and frequented by a grassroots community of extremely knowledgeable people – you can find everything there is to know about hearing aids, including where to get the best deals. Audiologists, audio engineers and just plain hard-of-hearing technology geeks hang out on the forums, and one techie among them is even working on a hearing aid controller for a smartwatch. The site does not allow advertising or promotion of any brands. By browsing the forums I’ve found information on low cost options, which brands of hearing aid are best, how to avoid scams and ripoffs, how to find a reputable audiologist and much more.
If you’re shopping for hearing aids, it’s worth your while to spend some time surfing the forums, reading up on various brands and topics. If you want an answer to a specific question, try the forum’s search engine or type the topic plus “hearing aid forums” into Google.
Three Cost-cutting Tips I Found on the Hearing Aid Forums
1 How Costco cuts costs
Costco is the low-cost hearing aid provider that’s rated highest on the hearing aid forums (and probably everywhere else, too). Costco offers the same brands and models you can find at an audiologist’s office for about half the price (with the exception of the Kirkland, which is the Costco brand). The main reasons the store’s prices are low, according to a forum member, is that audiologists earn a commission when they make a sale. Costco uses hearing aid dispensers (not audiologists) and they do not earn a commission. Costco also saves on overhead by using space at their stores.
Costco’s Kirkland brand may be the best bet. A senior forum member says:
“At $1899/pair, the Kirkland Signature 5.0 is an amazing value. You can search the forum for lots of feedback about that model.”
Another senior member describes his experience:
“I saw 2 audiologists, and then went to Costco. This allowed me to gain information and test 2 demos in an office setting to get some idea of what a hearing aid can do for me. Once at Costco, I found the folks knowledgeable, willing to answer my questions.
2 Why Audicus is a good bet
Audicus hearing aids range from $599 to $699 each and are extensively advertised online. I read on the forums that they use technology from Siemens, a major hearing aid manufacturer, but the company cuts out the middleman-audiologist. With Audicus you get a hearing test, send in the results by fax or email, and the company programs your hearing aids. Then you send them back for adjustments. This is a hassle, but if you’re saving thousands of dollars it’s well worth it. Here is a post on the forums about the aBlue hearing aids from Audicus.
“I ordered 2 aBlues with just the simple remote and have been wearing them for almost 3 weeks. They are amazing. I was at a very noisy event last night and by using the remote to cycle to the correct setting was able to participate completely in conversations with everyone at the table. I haven’t been able to do that in a long time! I have also noticed a huge difference at work – so much less having to ask for repetition.”
Another user recommends the slightly more expensive Audicus model:
“You should have purchased the aNote instead of the aBlue. “The aNote is a Hansaton Sorino, a much newer and more advanced model.”
Another benefit, the aNote is also adjustable from the remote.
Tip: Audicus is currently running a special where if you buy two you get the controller for free. Use the code ‘remote’ at checkout if you buy 2 aNotes.
3 Why HI Healthinnovations is a no-brainer — for some people
According to the Hearing Aid Forums, Health Innovations is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, the provider of UnitedHealthcare insurance plans, which provides AARP’s Medicare supplementary coverage. If you’re insured by United Healthcare, these hearing aids will be covered and you will pay around $350 each. If you’re on Medicare with AARP’s supplementary insurance these are a no-brainer.
The advantage of these hearing aids is that you get to see an audiologist in person for programming and adjustments. Health Innovations uses local audiologists all over the country to dispense its hearing aids, which cost $799 to $899 retail without insurance coverage. A senior member describes them:
“Not many bells and whistles, I believe. Just a solid, easy to fit, easy to use.”
Here is a recent post from a junior member who got his hearing aids for $609.
“I do believe the competence of the audiologist makes a world of difference, Other than feeling them in my ears and some digitizing in the higher frequencies, I feel like I hear normally but clearer. I can have a normal conversation with my wife without asking her to repeat herself constantly. I do not have a severe hearing loss and probably would not have purchased HA if I had to pay retail, but at $609 for the pair after insurance coverage, it was well worth it to me.”
Click here to visit the Hearing Aid Forums
Click here to read our in-depth article “The Latest in Hearing Aids and Hearables”
What’s your hearing aid experience? Have you found hearing aids you can afford?
Erica Manfred is a journalist, essayist and humorist who writes about everything from dentistry to divorce to fantasy fiction. Friend her on Facebook. See more Aging With Geekitude articles.
My grandmother is well into her 70’s and she already has some trouble hearing which is difficult when we encounter home emergencies and she can’t hear warning sounds. We’re considering hearing aids for her. So, thanks for informing us that we should look into product forums to know more about specific brands and even find good deals.
I recommend hearing tracker.com forum. Excellent user feedback and a great community of people helping each other through the maze of hearing aids.
Thank you so much for sharing a wonderful information with us. It was really nice to read article written on this topic. This article is extremely helpful exceptionally fascinating subject I am looking for that.You understand your projects stand out of the crowd. I can say that many of my colleagues frequent the forums to give pointers to consumers who need an expert second opinion. While I believe everyone should be treated directly by a licensed audiologists, I know that cost can be an issue. Purchasing hearing aids through an audiologist can be a costly affair, but the cost can be lowered with the help of your insurance in cases where audiological care and hearing aids are sold separately
keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.
My wife needs hearing aids so we are looking for the best place to get some. You mentioned that hearing aid forums are a good place to learn about them. I’ll try and find some and see if there is a brand that we like most.
I’ve worn hearing guides for hearing. What I have discovered is that if everything you are searching for is your hearing aid — you’re missing out. Everything you need to find is the ideal professional. For me personally was an audiologist who took the opportunity to perform very thorough testing and locate the appropriate aids for me personally. The fanciest hearing aids in the world does not do you much good if your specialist did not take time (or did not know the way ) To correct the aids just how you want them.
Would you mind sharing what equipment you bought. I got from audiologist unfortunately somehow they give refurbished and say it is new. The fitting was little better than Costco and Costco’s equipment was brand new fresh. I feel disgusted with my audiologist not. Admitting it is refurbished and they sent for repairing rather than a new replacement. I took pictures and will send to Nations hearings my insurance company. I am very upset. Pl let me know. Thanks
My uncle has hearing problems. He wants to get a hearing aid to make him hear more clearly. He goes to consult the doctor. He says that the price of hearing aid is very expensive and he can’t afford it. So I learned about the market of hearing aids. It’s a huge burden to find out that a person with hearing impairment needs at least $2000 to wear a pair of hearing aids. Whether it’s miracle or audicus, I see that wonderylife is very cost-effective. I recommend it to my uncle, hoping to solve his problem.
Hurrah! Finally I got a webpage from where I know how to
truly obtain valuable data regarding my study and
I have been in this field for more than 20 years, and like others I will address some of the self-serving inaccuracies in this article:
The idea that hearing aid specialists are salespeople on commission while audiologists are selfless professionals is demonstrably false. I personally know plenty of specialists on straight salary and plenty of audiologists on straight commission. I know sleazy audiologists and sleazy dispensers. I know highly competent audiologists and I know highly competent dispensers. Who they are is more important than where they’ve been.
Anyone can take any of these comments for what they are worth, but I can tell you my personal experience – some of the worst, most incomplete, and least professional fittings I have ever worked behind were done by AuD’s or ENT’s. While dumb old hearing specialists at a big box stores are doing a ridiculously thorough test with REM and SF verification, I have seen tests come from some AuD’s done with about as much care as an employment screening. I have seen dispensers who care deeply about what they do and who have deep understandings of audioprosthetics, and I have seen audiologists who slap the aids on “best fit” and pat you on the butt as they go out the door to the bank – and vice versa.
I have no doubt there are fantastic AuD’s out there, and I know for a fact there are totally incompetent specialists, but any time someone starts telling you blanket statements about a profession (especially when it concerns their competition) you should take it with a large grain of salt. As someone who has devoted a couple of decades to fitting hearing aids and at least a decade to wearing them, I promise you that you are better off with a good hearing instrument specialist than a bad audiologist. Like any field, it matters far more who the person is and their personal skill set than what they hang on their wall. There is no question that a PhD mechanical engineer is more educated than a grease monkey who has been working as a mechanic for 20 years at your local shop. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the PhD is better at rebuilding a carburetor.
Totally agree Dennis but how do you tell the difference.
If I walk in to buy a fridge I get shown choices with what each fridge does and how much. Do I get that choice that kind of a choice with audiologists? My wife went to an Australia wide, I think, company and the bloke had a pair of HAs on the desk, he tested her and said $2000.00 please. He also said go see a doctor as your ears need de-waxing. How good is that? I won’t go into service agreements etc that you’re offered that’s not for this forum.
The real reason why Costco can afford to sell you hearing aids so cheaply is that they are “LOCKED” meaning you can only get them serviced at a Costco. If you live in an area where one is close by, this is no problem, but if you don’t, or if you move away, you’re basically screwed if you need adjustments or repairs done, as only Costco can unlock them, and they won’t do it.
You’re much better off in the long run looking for an online discount hearing aid shop. They will outprice almost anyone (except the big box stores), provide remote services comparable to that of an in-store experience, and still save you thousands of dollars over name-brand shops like Miracle Ear (which mostly sell Chinese knock-offs of proper hearing aids).
Miracle Ear products are made by Siemens (Signia). They are not cheap knock offs. You can argue they are overpriced but that is a different issue. I had never heard Costco hearing aids were “locked” but it would be significant if its true.
Exactly correct. When I lost one, I went online and bound an identical one on Ebay. Costco then said they could not reprogram it because the sofware would not synce with the non-Costco version.
Too bad I cannot spel. bound -> bought; sofware -> software
That isn’t true. I hooked up a pair of hearing aids to the programming software the other day when a patient returned his hearing aids in favor of the cheaper option. The Costco aid connected to NOAH with full adjustability. The idea that Costco hearing aids are locked has been spread around, but it is not true.
My mom ‘s Miracle ear hearing aid went dead , took it to their store was told $379.00 to send out for repair which takes two weeks. SheMy only one good ear and is left with no hearing aid for two weeks . Is there a loaner program available.
I am really enjoying reading through these comments and seeing how the Audiologist community attempts to discredit comments which would lead people in need, to a more affordable and direct solution.
I am 41 and have had hearing aids for 15 years and in my experience audiologists prey upon senior and use fear as a tactic to sell products.
I really hope for change in this industry as it is so very sad to see. I think Costco selling devices is really a great move towards better value for people who are suffering.
Indeed, costco is the low-cost hearing aid provider that’s rated highest on the hearing aid forums. But I bought Signia for one of my family members. It’s one of the best aid I have found online.
I am wondering if any of the hearing aids that we see advertised on television for lower cost..foreg 200 to 300 per ear….Do they work?
My mother is in need of hearing aids ..but is saying she can’t afford.them.The Costco was about 2000.for 2
Is there any coverage through Blue Cross Blue shield..and if not..I won Dee why.Hearing is so important.
Thank you for any advice.
Do they work? Technically, yes. They will amplify surrounding audio. Will they sound natural? No. Will they properly address an individual’s hearing needs? No. It’s like going to a drug store and buying reading glasses. They will help you read better, but they are a poor substitute for a prescription lens made for your specific vision loss. Same thing applies to hearing aids. Making everything louder does not properly address an individual’s hearing loss, and can actually be detrimental in the long run.
Generally, not all. There are different types of hearing loss and different types of hearing aids. Yes, we can read solid sources and experiences from different hearing aid forums. We are not perfect, so patience is a virtue. It’s still good decision to seek a doctor or a an expert audiologist to ensure everything will be alright. Just stay positive!
Medical Audiology Services
My wife had a test with miracle ear…they had one for $6 ,390 and up ..the sound was good..but the price is astrnomical.
They are made in China for two hundred dollars.
Where can we get a hearing aid with that quality mu h affordable..why does the government allow our seniors to be
robbed ? Joseph Hastings.
Why does the government allow our seniors to be robbed ?
Probably because the same seniors keep voting for the same politicians election after election, politicians who are always in somebody or other’s pockets.
The answer to your questions is complicated. First, Chinese-made $200 hearing aids are not the same as proper hearing aids from companies like Signia or Widex. There is simply no comparison in terms of technology. It’s like buying a Yugo and expecting it to perform like a Corvette. The level of technology inside a modern hearing aid is comparable to other modern tech. It’s capable of learning your habits, and adjusting to your needs on the fly. It’s far more advanced than just a “mike and speaker.” Try getting that kind of performance from a knock-off brand, and it just doesn’t work.
You can get real, quality hearing aids from online companies that will save you $1000’s over a retail store, provide the same service and quality hearing aids, and who will take care of you the way you expect to be. And yes, insurance plans should be required to include prosthetics like hearing aids in their policies, but currently they only are required by TWO states!
I have stood inside the Miracle Ear manufacturing facility. It is in Minnesota and is run by Signia. Like all manufacturers some of the components are manufactured overseas. In the case of Signia and Miracle Ear, that manufacturing is in Singapore. $6300 for hearing aids is outrageous. Shop around and you will find comparable product for much less.
My last HA came from Costco, about 5 years ago. I lost one and have decided to purchase a new pair. I have different insurance and have been directed to an audiologist whom sells Signia.
Since I have a problem of losing HA, instead of going BTE I’d like to try a set of in the canal. I will end up paying the same price for BTE or in the canal Signia. Why would the audiologist immediately steer me to BTE when I haven’t had the initial appointment yet? I dropped in to see him a week prior to find out what my insurance would cover. Cost will be the same for in the canal or BTE. I’ve never had in the canal aids before.
I’ve worn several BTE and ITE aids over these past fifty years ( was born hearing impaired, and got my first HA in my twenties). First aids were BTE, then switched to ITE, which I find much better. I’ve worn three different ITE aids, two purchased from America Hears, and a Phonak from a local Audi (I have had no hearing at all in one ear, and this last aid is a bicross, which beams sound from my deaf side to my good ear. Works well). I haven’t had any problems with any of these aids. Only one had to be returned to AH for a small repair, just the pull wire had broken off.
So my advice to Steven , is to try the in the canal aids. It’s possible that they will be a bit uncomfortable at first, might require filing down by the Audi, and it does take a little while to get used to them. But it’s well worth it!!!
They’re much less likely to fall off, (and get lost), get tangled with your glasses, get knocked off when you comb your hair, and they’re less conspicuous for most people, especially men.
Most Audi’s will let you try a different aid if you’re not completely happy with the first one. So I recommend going with the ITE first. Good luck to you!
️There is a very low cost alternative to electronic hearing aids, that works for a one to one conversation, and it isolates the conversation from every other sound in the room. A basic design utilizing an air filled hollow tube (as acoustic stethoscopes use). Search Amazon, eBay or Bonanza: new “conversation tube”
This device has helped family talk to my grandmother, without any shouting. (It even works in a noisy room where everyone has difficulty hearing.) Clear, loud, isolated speech -nothing getting lost between ️the talker and the listener.
This article is full of incorrect information. Most educational hospitals do not give a cut of hearing aid sales to the audiologist. Hearing aids are a volume game, so the manufacturer negotiates a price with the clinic to sell them hearing aids. The more hearing aids the clinic purchases, the lower the price per unit the clinic can obtain them for. This affects the sale price. It’s simple economics really. Audiologists have a 4 year bachelors usually in communication science as well as a 4 year doctorate. That doctorate includes much more than hearing aid fitting, but we do learn best practice for fitting hearing aids. A Hearing instrument specialist or whatever they call themselves take a much shorter class and have no medical training. During my doctorate I took a lot of neurology with neuroscience and medical students as well as many other classes surrounding the etiologies of anything leading to a hearing loss. I also completed a formal training in psychoacoustic research at a national research hospital. On top of that I am a former sound engineer and expert in acoustics. Audiology is a funny field in that audiologists may range in ability from simple technicians to PhD level experts in a particular aspect of the field. All that being said, tread carefully when purchasing hearing aids. Find a respected audiologist and make sure they utilize verification procedures during hearing aid fitting. If they slap the hearing aids on you and say goodbye, return the hearing aids and go somewhere else. You may encounter a practice trying to get a sale and most certainly steer clear of hearing instrument specialists. They are salesmen plain and simple…
It’s a really helpful article, especcially with speakerphone.
I’ve conected via bluethooth.
Correct in that hearing instrument specialists (HIS) are not at top of the heap but many Costco HIS’s are also audiologist’s as well.
The HIS at my Costco referred me to an ENT after seeing the left-right discrepancies on my audiogram. Turns out I have a much more serious problem with the stapes in my right ear and will probably need corrective surgery. This diagnosis explains to me why my hearing loss is so much greater in the one ear which has plagued me for thirty years and why no HA has been able to remedy. No other audiologist ever caught this or went to this extent in telling me to see a specialist.
Thank you Costco for being so diligent and professional!
All I know about getting what you pay for is that my wife is an accountant at a rather large hospital and sees the markup and commissions paid out on the sale of a hearing aid and I can assure you a HUUUUGE amount of what you pay (upwards of 70%) is pure profit baby. Take it for what it’s worth or write me off as an idiot, it’s your money you’re free to do with it what you want.
This article is incorrect. Audiologists go to school for 8 yrs to become a doctor who actually cares about your hearing. Most are on salary and may bonus here and there. Hearing aid dispensers get a license after 6 weeks to 6 months of training under an Audiologist. They are paid hourly and make a commissions on the sales. Costco mainly hires hearing aid dispensers because it’s cheaper for them. The cost of their hearing aids is low for 3 reasons: 1. Overhead cost, they are opening them in stores that are already there, not having to lease space, 2. They can lower the price because they have so many stores selling mote units (simple economics) 3. The hearing aids are rebranded, using the old technology, so they aren’t as up to date. They will not release the tech info on them because of this which means other providers can’t show this to patients. Nor can someone compare prices since they are outdated units.
Your completely wrong about your answer
Audiologist does take a commission and has some idea that they are the only ones who can fit a Hearing Aid.
You don’t need 8 years of training and 100’s of thousands of school debt to learn fitting algorithms and a Hearing test. The laws in each state cover the rest.
Some of the Audiologists our thre are the worst fitters on the market because they think they know it all.
Go to a Hearing Aid Dispenser and save money.
This article is everything we hate about the industry and only explains what not to do.
Not entirely accurate. The gross margin on the sale of a hearing aid may approach 70% but that does not account for overhead costs – rent, utilities, etc, etc, not to mention the salary of your audiologist who holds a Amsters degree or PHd and and as a result rightfully ears $80 to $100k per year in salary. Keep in mind that the cost of that aid probably includes the services of that Audiologist to maintain your hearing aids and hearing health for many years. Is it a profitable business, yes it can be, but there are just as many hearing clinics that scrape by, just paying the bills.
oh BS!! there is less than $200 worth of technology in a hearing aid.. these devices are not complicated.
6000+ for a pair is robbery.
Thanks for the sharing the great article. As someone who wears hearing aids, I just wanted to say thank you. This research really matters for people like me who one day hope to hear like a normal person again.
Educate yourself on what you are paying for and you will find you are not paying $6000 for hearing aids at your audiologist. You are paying for ongoing service(often for the life of the devices), expertise, advanced testing, verification that the devices work correctly in your ears, routine assessment and excellent outcomes. You might be able to pay someone less to give you the same hearing aids up front, but you likely will not have excellent results, your perscription will not likely be matched nor get much by way of service. The old adage “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. Seniors who buy from costco near me tell me all the time that while they started at Costco, they aren’t going back there because the service and quality of sound and my care is nothing remotely comparable. I am an independent audiologist and sell hearing aids that meet all budgets. I acknowledge that our industry has problems, but seniors need to understand that hearing loss is not like vision loss and hearing aids are not like glasses. Hearing aids need lots of ongoing care, regular hearing tests need to be performed and assessments need to be redone annually for someone to hear well all the time. When you buy “$6k hearing aids” you aren’t charged at every visit like you are when you see the doctor, dentist or optometrist. Think of what you pay for a cell phone with a data plan and everyone is upset about the cost of hearing healthcare? (Just wait until the professionals out there start actually charging fees for their time, it’s about to get even more costly.) Maybe it’s because hearing aids can be sold by pretty much anyone but there are only a few thousand highly trained professionals in the US who actually know how to make them work well. I bet everyone here knows someone or has a negative hearing aid story to tell. Wonder why? Only a true professional (audiologist) can provide adequate care. I’ve seen many folks undervalue their hearing. It’s unfortunate, but I understand why. There is so much mis-information and quite frankly, dis-information out there and right here on this blog post and in the comments, who can anyone trust? Take your time evaluating who you are working with. A true professional will be able to assess you well enough to tell you what you need. Understand what you are paying for or not paying for. Find the right audiologist, who you feel confident will have your best interests at heart and suddenly that $5000 will seem like a bargain.
me thinks thou dost protest too much….
there is no way 6000 bucks is a good deal even as you try to explain why you think it is. you are protecting the shameful industry because you are a part of it.
I have read the best advice about hearing aids I have seen on the internet. Particularly that from a person advertised as a “tiny” audiologist. Thanks. 86 and still going.
There are so many inaccuracies in this article it is hard to know where to begin. Getting hearing instruments is part of your medical healthcare. You should research hearing loss and treatment options just as you would any health issue. As the above reply suggests the cost listed by audiologists are often “bundled” to include services. Ask your audiologist for an “unbundled” price which shows how much the device is compared to services. Decide what level of service you want and select your provider accordingly.
Hi All, I just want to ask if anyone ever tried using medical cannabis as an alternative meds? I have read many articles about medical marijuana and how it can help you in terms of chronic pain, glaucoma, eating disorder/anorexia, anxiety disorders and panic attacks, inflammation, even cancer and a lot more. Like this article about a marijuana strain called Panama Red from:https://seniorplanet.org//www.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com/panama-red/ . Cbd and thc are also new to me and I don’t even smoke. If this is true I cant find any solid conclusive evidence that speaks to its efficacy. Any personal experience or testimonial would be highly appreciated. Thanks
Have you heard about these hearing aids https://seniorplanet.org//www.deviceinformed.com/medical-devices-global-directory/primary-care/pediatrics/pediatric-hearing-aids/phonak-sky-v-ric ? I was told that they are extremely good and high quality. What do you think?
Hi there, Robert! Are you thinking about a hearing aid for yourself or a young child? The Sky line of products is designed for kids and teens. Young children have different listening needs than adults do, so the hearing aids don’t respond to noise and sound the same way the aids designed for adults do. If you’re looking for a comparable product for adults, you’d want the Audeo V (RIC), or the Bolero V for a behind-the-ear with custom earmold product. There’s a newer platform for adults out there, called the Belong platform, so you’d want that technology if you’re looking for the latest and greatest (there’s even a rechargeable option now!).
This product is from one of the top six manufacturers and they are known for their pediatric offerings. Their products are pretty good, but I’ve seen no evidence that they are significantly better than other brands. That being said, the RIC (receiver-in-canal) style is not appropriate for many children. An older child, perhaps, but I wouldn’t put it on a young one. Their ear canals are often too small around for the receiver to fit well. The bend of the wire makes them fit too deeply as well, making them uncomfortable or even unsafe. Earwax or any ear drainage can damage receivers. Pulling on the wire can damage it. Expect a lot of issues and repairs if you put this product on a young child. The Sky line does come in the traditional behind-the-ear style, which is more appropriate for many. [I own a tiny private audiology practice and fit multiple brands, including this one on occasion, and formerly worked with kids full time.]
I have followed this article since it first came out, thank you Erica. I get e-mail alerts of new comments- but unless the comments are from the latest comments you have to go down the list of over 200 comments to find the comments. Is there a way to go directly to the comments on the e-mail alert?
I was also glad to see that Erica wrote two more articles. One about the hearing aids available- the cost is still very high for average America. As we can see by the comments the article touched on a very painful issue- people needing a medical device and not able to get it because the cost is to high.
would love to hear comments from consumers and audiologist in the Los Angeles County area who have been able to purchase decent hearing aids from a local provider with a cost that is less than Costco.
It seems to be Costco can be challenge by local providers with low cost high quality service- if they can, which I’m not sure because of Costco high volume purchase.
Thanks for this information.
I have a prescription from my AuD and my ENT doctor, but I do not have the $6000 for the hearing aids. I am not a Costco member and I know over the counter aids can actually harm your ears potentially.
Does anyone know a place to order these online where a technician can program them per the prescription at a more affordable price? Please help this retired guy!
You’d probably be better off just talking to your Audiologist and letting him know that 6000 is not affordable to you and asking him or her what other options are available. 6000 is usually at the upper range of prices and they’re bound to have options. If they’re worth their salt, they will be happy to work with you.
I feel very uncomfortable with your suggestion of asking providers if they can offer a lower price . It would be better if local providers would list the lower cost hearing aids with full information like brand, etc. and the cost.
I just did research on eyeglasses and visited local businesses that were offering specials. Some were gimmicks to get you in only to try and sell you expensive glasses, but I did find a place.
Honest hearing providers could offer their services and it seems to me that informed consumers that know what they need will purchase hearing aids if they knew there is transparency, good value and service. A satisfied consumer can generate so many other leads and if the provider is good they will have a customer for life.
It’s so elementary with any business- but hearing aids businesses doesn’t want to empower consumers to make the right choice based on competition and transparency.
I have visited several providers over the years when they offer ridiculous high prices I thank them and never go back.
You can join Costco for $55 a year which in turn can save you thousands on premium level hearing aids. You will also save tons on new glasses,pharmacy,tires, gas and more. Great investment.
I use that thermoplastic denture adhesive to put over the hearing aides. It creates a cushion so my ears don’t throb
Where do you live?
It doesn’t work like that, Buzz. The “prescription” is just a hearing test and a recommendation for a specific product. It doesn’t specify how to program them, because that varies due to your ear canal acoustics. Hearing aids should be programmed in person using real-ear probe microphone measurements (only 20% of offices use it). If it’s not done that way, research shows that the manufacturer software’s “quick fit” prescription is likely to under power them. Whether done in person or online, if you aren’t getting real-ear measurement, you aren’t getting what you should be getting.
I have re-programmed hearing aids for people that were purchased elsewhere or obtained from the VA, for a fee. Some find this worthwhile, but it’s usually a shock to their system—they need an earpiece modification or a big increase in power, and I have to do it in stages over time so they can get used to it. Might need several visits, depending on the product. Also might not be the product I would have picked. Service fees can add up (and some providers won’t touch products they didn’t sell).
You might look for an audiologist that is “unbundled”, meaning they price the product at/near wholesale then charge separately for initial procedures and have various follow-up care options. Upfront cost can be lower. There are at least 5 levels of technology/price points. Don’t over buy technology if you lead a quiet lifestyle, but don’t under buy if your life is active and noisy. Most places have third-party financing. Sometimes there are older/used/reconditioned/demo products available. Let your provider know what you need, maybe they can help.
[I am an unbundled audiologist with a tiny private practice who charges less than many of the dispensers near me, and less than some of the “discount” third-party benefit plans. I don’t sell, I help people hear and get good results.]
I’ll tell you what I’ve learned after working as a patient care coordinator/hearing instrument specialist in-training. I should first begin by telling you tad bit about myself. I have a clinical background (oddly enough for a reputable, world renowned teaching hospital in Ophthalmology), where the patient comes first. I don’t have a stellar sales background but the idea of being my own practitioner was appealing to me. I sooned learned that this profession is often most concerned with making money rather than serving the patient, and that is the bottom line. This is a retail industry and less of a health industry. They are essentially car salesmen. I believe in serving the patient first, honesty, integrity, kindness and being transparent to the patient/client. I was let go for wanting to be more transparent with the patient/client.
The hearing business I worked for straight out told me that they cannot compete with Costco. I was told that Costco manufacturers most of their own hearing aids and even though they are an older generation, they work well for most people. That’s why Costco is leading the industry! My advise is to get a membership at Costco and buy from there. The hearing instrument specialists are usually trained on-the-job from within and are not on commission. As far as I know they won’t file your insurance. You would have to get an itemized receipt after paying in full and wait for reimbursement from your insurance company, but it’s still worth going to someone you can trust.
Where I worked, we would call to see what kind of hearing aid benefits the client had. If our business was out-of network for the patient and they had NO out-of-network benefits BUT the patient had amazing in-network benefits, that information was kept secret from the patient, if at all possible. The patient was never made aware of these benefits and was simply told they didn’t have any hearing aid benefits (at our business). That wasn’t a lie but they weren’t being transparent obviously. The client ended up spending $6,000 for his hearing aids with us when he could have went to someone in-network and only paid $700 for the exact same hearing aids. Talk about crooked and deceptive.
This business was also named “Top Choice Hearing Business” for three consecutive years in a row!! Leading the public to think it is so wonderful and reputable, but in reality they only won because the owner had opened dozens of email addresses and had all the associates vote daily under all of theses email addresses, for the entirety of the contest, to ensure they would win each year. Very crooked if you ask me.
There was a lot of other deception….. I could go on and on…. Telling patient we weren’t aware of any extended warranty through the manufacturers when it was clear we could offer that option to the patient, but our goal was not to sell an extended warranty but to sell them another set of hearing aids even if their pair was just beyond three years.
I couldn’t work under these conditions.
Anyone that is an audiology student or thinking of becoming an audiologist with good intentions in mind should be made aware of what this industry is really like because I’m sure they are not taught this in college. It’s a lot of deception, avoidance and sales!
Thank you for sharing your story. It is sad that this system is in place while millions of people suffer because they can’t afford a medical necessary device. We need help from the government to enforce transparency in what seems like a monopoly.
Let’s keep this discussion open and perhaps find a way to organize a signature gathering to get some action in congress.
I am an audiologist with over 30 years of experience. It would benefit people to read “Honest Betsy’s” post. In my experience the majority of audiologists are honest caring professionals who insure that patient’s are receiving maximum benefit from the hearing devices (by doing objective measures and having regular follow ups) and not, just some benefit. In my experience it is more likely that those with limited experience and, limited education, who are, sales oriented and only in it for the buck. Yes, you pay more to be fit with the expertise of a professional who can remove wax from your ear, determine if you have ear disease, determine if you need medical treatment and, use advanced methods to insure your success and the best hearing possible. Like “Honest Betsy” I too have reprogrammed and re-configured patients hearing devices who have not had professional service to the delight and benefit of my patients. I think your experience is an exception to the rule and it’s sad that you would characterize all audiologists to be like the bad apples that you came across. No one should take one experience or acquaintance and characterize an entire group to be the same.
https://hearingaids.direct they have a wide network and will save you $1500-$2000 from that $6000 price. Programming through them is still done locally by a professional and not remote. You dont want remote programming you always want to have it done in person. Also having it done face to face means you’ll keep the warranty where some online stores will just sell you the hearing aid and have you figure the rest out, Hearing Aids Direct will help you get the lowest price and send you to a certified professional near your home to get the service done.
Regarding Costco. You will receive a proper evaluation and fitting. It is true at Costco, you will work with an Audiologist, or a Lisened Hearing Aid Dispenser. Prices may be higher with and independent Audiologist or Hearing Aid Dispenser. They have to pay for their overhead, and pay their employees, and do not have the buying power of Costco. Costco, Independent Dealers, and Franchises others can also do the same. Hearing aids like many other products have consolidated over the years to a small number of manufacturers. Those saying Costco sells “old or outdated technology” are simply misinformed, or not being truthful. The software used at Costco to program your hearing aids are the propriety software of the company that manufactured the hearing aids. Kirkland Signiture Hearing Aids are manufacture by different manufacturers. In 2016, my wife was fit with the Kirkland Signature K6, manufactured by Resound, and programed with software from Resound. It is right there on the screen when the program is brought up. It is also fairly easy to find the specs for Kirkland Signature Hearing Aids online, though a bit of searching may be required. The specs of any reputable manufacturer can be found online, not always easily, but, they are available. The most important part of your best use of hearing aids, depends on the skill and the care provided by the Hearing Professional. Audiologist who are properly trained in fitting hearing aids, and Hearing Aid Dispensers who are properly trained, whether “In House” or otherwise can give you quality hearing care. Your success with hearing aids will depend on the skill, and dedication of the person doing the fitting. The integrity of the person fitting you is the most important part of your success with hearing aids. They should be very open and honest about what they can and cannot do. They should be willing and able to explain your audiogram, and other testing to you in laymen’s terms you can understand. They should, and by Federal Law explain your warranty, and how to properly use your hearing aids. Your responsibility is to work with your hearing professional and be open and honest with them. It is vital that you have confidence and trust in your hearing professional. Hearing Aids will not cure your hearing loss, however, properly fitted and adjusted hearing aids can be life changing. I am now at the point where I have to use hearing aids. I went to Costco, because of how the Audiologist (MS-CCCA) worked with my wife, I was impressed with the service given to my wife by the Hearing Aid Dispensers who helped my wife when the Audiologist had a day off. Because of the folks we worked with, we will be repeat customers in the future. Our trust has been earned. I cannot tell you how much that is worth to me, as we must spend our money carefully. From my years in the Hearing Aid Industry (retired), I can tell you there are many very good professionals working every day to support their families, and make sure you can get the maximum benefit from your hearing aids. You should always ask questions and be frank about your money. A reputable dispenser will be more than willing to answer your questions. They will always have to do their own hearing evaluation to give you all of the information you need, even if your Doctor or Audiologist tested your hearing. They need to do so to properly help you. If you cannot get your questions answered respectfully and truthfully, you need to go to someone else.
Hi, I’m a veteran, my hearing was damaged while in service but I didn’t discover how bad it was until I left the service. Luckily, I was able to go back to the VA with my problem, and I got hearing aids through my VA benefits. I’m relating this to give a “head’s up” to any one out there who may have damaged their hearing while in service… You too can go back to the VA and perhaps get your hearing aids (FREE!) through your VA benefits. I have a pair of PHONAK (programmable) hearing aids and they are the best thing for me. I hope this helps someone out there!
I used Oticon hearing aids and did auditory training from Sensoton.
Oticon hearinga aids were great, auditory training was helpful.
I bought My hearing aids online at aurem-hearing.com… also buyhear.com offers premium hearing aids at half the price of my local audiologist. Both companies offer fitting of the hearing instruments If you supply them with your audiogram.
If they Can offer hearing aids at half the price, then something must be rotten in the hearing Industry.
I am a hearing aid provider and have recently gotten announcements from several major manufacturers that they will not honor warranties on hearing aids purchased from buyhear.com.
They must not be buying them directly from manufacturers, so I’m not sure if that means that they fall off the back of a truck or if they are somehow resold in a secondary market to buyhear but I would strongly caution anyone from purchasing aids over the internet. Just an FYI!
Wonder who makes Health Innovations hearing aids? Wonder what research has been performed to see how they work?
I’m a provider. I work with all of the major manufacturers and I honestly don’t recognize the hearing aids. Usually, I can just look at one and know what company it’s from. I know a lot of it is regional, buy I actually sell real hearing aids at a better price. The company has also gotten into a lot of trouble with how they “fit” hearing aids and their online hearing aid sales. They’ve also gotten a lot of flack for their repair system. If you read the fine print, you pay for shipping and for all services. $40 bucks a pop. That adds up over time and they don’t guarantee the work.
But here’s my main concern. If you look at their warranty information, it states that ” This warranty does not cover malfunctions due to unusual wear and tear, unauthorized alteration or mistreatment of the hearing aid, such as physical shock, damage from moisture or sweat, excessive wax build-up, or tampering with the instrument, all of which void the warranty.”
Ask any provider, and they will tell you that 90% of all repairs are due to moisture and wax buildup. So if you’re a “normal” hearing aid user, within a year, you will void your own warranty and have to purchase a new aid. That doesn’t sound like a good deal to me and shouldn’t to anyone else either.
Looks like UberHearing.com has the right idea for the Canadian marketplace. They not only are proposing to sell hearing aids for significantly less, they are committed to abide by the latest proven best practices, including REM (their initial hearing tests will take two hours). According to them, they’ll still be able to make a decent $100/hr for their services while passing 50% of the hearing aid discount back to the customer. According to their published pricing, they’ll give Costco some competition and will still offer the in-person services sorely lacking in the online and over-the-counter markets. Some entrenched professionals may not like the direction the market is going, but, sadly, online hearing aids are a reality in the U.S. (and now in Canada) because of 1) consumer misinformation and 2) hearing industry complacency. Canadian hearing clinics have two choices, 1) Aggressively compete on both price and quality, or 2) support the gradual demise of the industry through inaction. When 80% who need do not, or cannot, buy and 50% who have bought are unsatisfied, why is change even up for debate?
You really need to find someone who cares, and will work with you to make sure you get everything you need. Pacific Audiology provides hearing aid assessments and fittings for a range of situations; they only care about your quality of living, not the dollar.. I always contact them here:
This comment from me has been updated for typos. Please post this one as my comment moderator:
I have found this article and more importantly, its comments to be very interesting. I am helping my Grandmother search for her third pair of hearing aids and here are some of my thoughts and experiences from over the years:
First of all, hearing aids are overpriced. Plain and simple. Yes the technology can be and is impressive especially in such a small package. But we are at a stage in society and technology, where these small “smart chips” have become quite accessible and available to many, many fields. We have chips in our smart phones just as small and very much more capable than these particular chips in aids. And they do not cost more than $20-34 dollars, for major manufacturers to purchase. Even the most avdvanced chips on the market now. And we are talking chips that have 100 times the processing and ability of hearing aid chips. The rest of the molded parts of these units amount o almost nothing. A few dollars at most.
Similar to the orthotics/tooth reconstruction industry. My sister worked in this field. Where people with bad teeth get reconstructive dental implants. Some are charged as much as $35 to $40 thousand dollars once all is said and done! And the process was usually only a one day process for most patients. The supplies used cost next to nothing. Once my sister began working as the docs nurse, she became disgusted at how rediculous the markups were! Similar situation here! Two hearing aids should not cost as much as a very nice used car! That is ridiculous and unjustifiable. Period. Our entire medical field is out of control on costs to consumers.
Second, insurance companies are NOT the problem here. For some reason, everyone thinks that insurance companies would somehow magically make hearing aids affordable and not cost everyone in the long run. With increased premiums, policy co pays, ect.. All of these benefits have to be paid for. And then a profit built into the cost on top of that. Do you really want to add a fourth party to the mix who in turn wants to make money off of an already extremely overpriced product?
A comment above said this beautifully. Hearing aids are a commodity. I agree, they are indeed commodities. Do they enrich your life if you suffer hearing loss? Without question. Do they make social activities and engagement more enjoyable? Again, yes. But are they medically necessary to survive. No, they are not. They are what would have been termed in the past a “luxury”. And that is a correct terminology, under the very definition of the word.
The argument from the doctor above is very weak when they state it is not like buying a car. It is in fact a luxury, as ANY car purchase is. You do not need either to continue to live. It is purchased to enrich your life and experiences. So it is a lot of selling and propaganda being used by the doctors and audiologist to try and justify the complete rip off these little electronic commodities cost!
I do not believe any one part of the supply chain is to blame alone. The manufactures, middle suppliers and finally the doctors and audiologist are all profiting handsomely off of these items.
Again, a doc said above, that people are not accounting for maintainance, batteries, cleaning, ect.. Batteries for the expected average life of these units amount to almost nothing, and my grandmother on average only sees the audiologist once a year for 10-15 minutes once the initial adjustments have been made. And she has seviere hearing loss. People with less hearing issues are likely to spend even less time. There is very little maintenance to the units themselves. So for most, the amount of time a doctor will spend on your unit and with you for the expected life of the unit, does not amount to more than a handful of hours and $15 to $20 in batteries maximum. Is this really worth $4 to $8 thousand dollars? I guess that depends on the person answering. But I bet to most, the answer is a resounding, NO!
But because of so few companies controlling the supply of hearing aides and lobbying to keep tight control over their price fixing monopoly, consumers are left with very little options or choice. And with complete lack of transparency in price and why these cost so much. We are constantly told to shop around, compare services and product and prices. But with such a dark veil of secrecy over the cost of these, how can one be an informed consumer? They can’t.
I realize the doctors do provide a service that has value. And I think they have an important part to play in the overall system, with respect to some consumers needing good, solid diagnosis and recommendations for what will work well for them, based on diagnosis.
But the problem is that the entire industry is completely secretive and monopolized over consumers. And in today’s world, this business model will not survive. Consumers are growing tired of being gouged. And that is EXACTLY what is happening in this industry! The technology is there, has been for a few years, to produce cutting edge hearing aids. Even more advanced than we see now. For literally less than a hundred dollars a pair. I should know. I work heavily with computers and technology design. And have for nearly 18 years… Belive me, we have chips with these current capabilities and more, being used in much more advanced applications and as said above, these chips are being produced for just a few dollars each…
All I can say is, enjoy the ride now to everyone in this industry making huge margins. Because change is coming. And there are currently a number of startups working to make these devices cost what they really should for the public (no more than a couple of hundred dollars a pair) with more features than even the ones on the market right now. And honestly, it is about time! This industry has exploited the public (particularly our seniors) for FAR too long!
Dear Griffin, I couldn’t agree more! You are spot on with everything, as was this article. The professionals commenting on this forum are trying to save face, but when you analyze all the FACTS, their arguments don’t hold water. This is the most overpriced & over promoted industry that takes advantage of the senior citizens and those with a hearing disorder. The hearing aid industry has teamed up with the insurance companies to give them a cut of their huge profits. They intentionally make the entire lineup of hearing aids very confusing, so you have to see an audiologist and/or a hearing aid dealer just to determine what is best fit for you. This is how they justify their high price tags on their hearing aids. Tell me why this industry has been allowed to get away with this? There is a lot of great advice in this forum and everyone should forward it to everyone they know who wears hearing aids. Cheers!
Steve, your spot on! I have been helping my Grandma navigate the hearing aid maze for years. And it really makes me upset how older folks are so taken advantage of! Change is coming. Either the industry will adapt or startups who see an opportunity to make a profit at a much lower price and offer ingenious products will eventually wipe old the old mold. If the tight control and monopoly over the industry is finally opened up.
Griffin – Have you experienced hearing loss yourself?
Steve, I am much younger and just beginning to notice some loss of hearing from listening to loud music for 35 years. I will eventually likely need aids myself (hopefully at least 15-20 years out). I live this journey through and by helping my Grandmother navigate the maze. Since I made my initial post, I would say I have NOT changed my position, if anything, I see more evidence of price gouging by the industry.
Like I previously stated, startups are working the issue. And if they are blocked by unscrupulous manufacturers or other parties from releasing them, I would say it is time for us to not only create a petition for investigation by the government into the artificial price fixing, but maybe it is time I focused my film company on a documentary to expose this issue.
It is a topic we have had a round table discussion about already…
My experience with “professional audiologists” has left a really, really negative impression. Some (most?) remind me more of used car salesmen that “licensed professionals”. The most important thing is “sell the most and most expensive aids you can sucker the customer into springing for”. And the hearing aid companies are in collusion with them. I’m surprised that there have not been federal “restraint of trade” lawsuits filed.
I started wearing aids in the mid-1980’s with analog aids. Due to a geographical relocation, I had to find a new audiologist. As the analog aids were getting some miles on them, I bought a pair of Siemens digital aids, which were adjusted, fitted, and worked fine.
Time passes….and the Siemens aids are getting older. One of the aids suffered an “earmold failure” (i.e. the plastic cracked). So I went to my “licensed professional” to see if the still-good electronics could be transferred to a new earmold. She sent the aid to Siemens, and the message came back…..”not repairable”. So I begin the process of buying a newer replacement.
But I had promised myself that I would learn more about the technology, so I bugged the audiologist for info, which she could have easily fulfilled just by giving me some sales brochures and web addresses. But she was not forthcoming, so I mentioned this to her office manager. Next thing I know, I get a letter saying “your needs are not welcome in…take a hike”. So I found a new audiologist. In the meantime, I had, through web research, become aware of independent repair companies who will fix any brand.
So, I had my new (and much more cooperative audiologist) make an earmold cast, and send that and the good electronics to the independent repair company she recommended. The aid came back “like new”.
But I still wanted newer aids, so I took my latest audiograms to Costco. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The hearing aid technician was totally open on providing any and all information about all the aids Costco sells. She exhibited full professionalism…FAR more than my “licensed professional” Doctor of Audiology.
Bottom line….the Costco aids work great. My old Siemens aids are there for backup if needed. And the “audiology biz” has lost, forever, a hearing aid customer. I will still go to my audiologist for annual tests/checkups, but buy a hearing aid……never again
You stated this in 2016. It’s 2018 as I read this. Has anything changed? Please say yes! My husband needs hearing aids, but we can’t afford them. Thank you for your insight!
I’m still using 4 yr old Costco hearing aids even though I own high end stuff. They’re not great- but neither is the overpriced junk from all of the audiologists. I’ve been wearing hearing aids since 1975!
I hate to tell you all but with very little effort you can program your own hearing aids. It takes around 10-15 hours of research to understand the programs. I am 78 years old and last year finally bit the bullet to learn. There is a bit of an obstacle in that the industry has lobbied to get the Hi Pro (device that is used) to be called a “medical instrument” not available to the public. Nevertheless you can often find one online for around $150. You plug it into your computer and into the pair of aids you can buy online. I paid $1500 for a pair of Phonak Audeo v90 aids on ebay that audiologists sell for around $6000 (incidentally Costco sells the identical aids for $3000 but has a slightly different electrical hookup…this should clarify this point in so many comments above). Also Audiologist’s offices are often staffed by “Hearing Aid Dispensers” who have only 6 months training across several aids so you are often not buying from an audiologist in the first place…be sure to ask if you do go to one. Back to the programming…read up then try it. Its pretty straight foreword and I have no special programming skills. You just enter your audiogram (furnished for free under medicare by an audiologist if you are over 65) and you enter the same data (i.e. the points on the audiogram) on your computer screen. the program almost does the rest for you. You can download the Venture 4.2 software from Phonak onto the computer disk and you are good to go. Be sure you find a source for the Phonak/Venture software before you begin (if you are using the phonak product) . Other manufactures are beginning to explore the use of the iPhone to help with the programming because they realize the next generation will not put up with the scams in the industry. Good luck.
I’m curious what your compression ratios are set to. Are you cognizant of the MPOs and making sure that they are set to safe levels? Have you verified via real ear measurements that the gain shown in the software is the same gain in your ear canal? Ear canal size and shape affects the sound being transmitted to your eardrum. Are you making sure the coupler is set correctly so that the software is accounting for venting effects? If you have a mold, and you need to modify to help with the effects of occlusion, are you able to do this? If you don’t have a mold, are you sure the dome you’re using is adequate for your hearing loss?
I totally agree that you get what you pay for. I have a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss and am in my late 70s. I know I need hearing aids but what has stopped me is pure and simple: the cost. I worked and waiting for my golden years and what I had disappeared because of the economy, etc. etc. I now have to live simply watching every penny. No eating out. No movies. Nothing except the basics and I mean the basics. I know that cost has become the deciding factor on whether to get a hearing aid or not. I am not low enough to get financial help. My supplemental insurance will not help. So now I have to make a decision. Sure, I want the best that will enable me to “hear” again. But it is out of the question. The route I would go would be an audiologist. So do I go into debt for the hearing aids or do I go to Costco and get an older model aid that does not have the latest technology or do I go with United Healthcare and their Health Innovations. Not an easy choice. When I went to get a car I would have wanted a smooth ride instead of what I had to purchase which is basic transportation that takes me from Point A to Point B. I am the senior consumer who sees that the choice I have is a poor one. And don’t tell me that private providers will sell me an aid cheaper than Costco. The last time I was about to put my money down to an audiologist who was charging me $6,000 and then refused to give me a contract saying what I had just purchased. When it did not appear, I had to threaten to get my $3,000 deposit back. It is me the consumer that is the victim in all this. Without hearing I am becoming more and more isolated. So please do not tell me that the reason I am not getting a hearing aid is anything else than cost. It is cost pure and simple. And that is something I have no control over.
I am sorry to hear about your financial issues affecting your hearing health. There are many patients that walk through my door that are also struggling with both of these issues, and I try to be helpful and frank. I would like to direct you like I would my own family member.
Firstly, United Health Care Hearing Innovations has so many complaints and has had so many issues they will be going out of business soon. I wouldn’t waste my time unless I was not going without wearing anything and they were my last resort. Costco offers a more budget friendly selection of hearing aids, but yes the technology is about 5 years behind and they cant meet all of your needs (i.e ear cleanings, if you had a sudden drop in hearing, asymmetric hearing loss which should all be seen by ENT clinic). They do not care about you like a small practice would. The hearing aids might sound similar to private practice but their features and technology are not. Same HA company but they do less. But hey, wearing something is better than nothing. As long as that brain is recieving stimulation from sound better to wear something.
I would recommend going into several consultations with Audiologists and say, I know you have state of the art hearing aids but I really only have a budget of 1000 dollars, do you have anything for me? Be nice and upfront and plead your case. Don’t say you are shopping around, just be honest. A few audiologists might say no, but you may stumble upon one that has an extra set or a donated pair. Obviously audiologists do not have enough hearing aids to do this with every patient, but leave your number and if they like you and get a pair they aren’t using they might help you out. Clinics that are smaller with only audiologists (no ENTs) have more freedom to make decisions like that. I have helped out a couple people where I can, but I do not get a lot of donations.
There is also another option you can ask the Audiologist, ask if they participate with any free hearing aid programs such as HEARNOW. The hearing aid manufacturer will donate some hearing aids based on your financial need. If you meet the criteria financially, the application is $200 but the audiologist can call and check to make sure you qualify before you submit your money. The manufacturer sends the audiologist a free set, and the audiologist donates their own time to programming you and providing you services. This is only at participating audiologists and they take on only a few cases a year. You can ask at your consultations or look into it online.
I have a high frequency hearing loss. I’ve tried two different hearing aids costing thousands – no success. Recently I bought the German – made Britzco amplifier from Amazing for $189 dollars. Voila! I’m 71 years old and enjoying the best hearing since I was in my early twenties. Is there something amiss in the hearing aid industry? It’s a no-brainer.
Ruth Ort, Don’t listen to the “DR T just absolute rubbish cosco has the latest technology from what used to be Seimens, for $1800.00 it is not 5 year old technology, [edited] it is up to date and can be tweaked using a smart phone. Don’t be sucked in by these theiving swines calling themselves health proffessionals. If you r hearing takes a turn for the worse you will need to see a specialist ENT Dr, not an audiologist . It just infuriates me, their money hungry swines!!!
Actually Dr. T was spot on. Dr. T gave two cheap and even free programs where someone could get help financially.
Costco is behind in tech…simply ask. Just because you can use a smart phone with it doesn’t mean it’s the latest. That tech has been around for about 5 years.
Dr T. did say you should see an ENT for medical losses. But you should know that if you go to an ENT that the person you actually see and who tests your hearing is an Audiologist. Almost all ENT offices hire Audiologists to do the testing while the ENT does the surgical procedures.
Seems awfully harsh to call that person a money hungry swine when they told the commenter how to save money and referred to an ENT office. Maybe you’re looking for something that’s not there.
Re Britzco: Hi can inform me as to where I can buy this. I’ve always had good results re German made items, and wish to buy Britzco. Can one turn off the item easily, and are batteries costly. I’m an 85 year old woman and on a fixed income and Costco is too expensive so this item may be what I need. Thank you, shaw
I’m the writer of the article and have been researching my next article about the latest in hearing aids. A few facts:
* Costco Kirkland brand hearing aids have iPhone apps which makes them the LATEST technology.
* BuyHear.com now sells all the latest hearing aids from major manufacturers half price and programs them online.
* Audicus does have some very good reviews on the Hearing Aid Forums. They offer money back and seem legit.
There are options for low income seniors.
Hearing Aids are expensive because suppliers keep the price artificially high, through a rebate scheme to service providers – anything from 50 70 % , sounds crazy but its true. The reason is to do with how the government controls prices. Many companies use audiomerists as well as audiologists to fit hearing aids – so even of its not costco they may well not be an audiometrist.
Be particularly careful if you apply through an Industrial Hearing loss claim , the provider fit simply the most expensive the insurer fund. Often standard letters are sent to the insurer requesting a standard herding aid – this may sound good , but often they are tied to the hearing aid manufacturer through the rebate scheme.
The price of hearing aids are simply too high because the industry operates a price fixing scheme.
Costco are probably passing on the rebate to customers and offering the same standard of care as many providers.
Beware from where provides operate – often your medical records are used outside of Australia in countries providing cheap labour for administrative assistance , but th service is poor.
They are not the latest technology at Costco. They always get something that is at least 1 to 2 years behind and do not have all the features on them as the same hearing aids I have. So wherever you are doing your research is not correct. You should go to the manufacturer of the hearing aids for a better explanation.
yep Costco does not have the latest and ask how many people wear their hearing aids that are programmed online? That is the key.
debra, in order to make your post more “acceptable” you need to also disclose your own personal reasons for not recommending Costco hearing aids. For example, do your run a hearing aid business? We have a right to know. Are you in direct competition with Costco?
My car does not have all the latest features (it’ll be 20 years old this year) but gets me from point A to point B. My cameras are older and lack the latest technology but are just fine. My hearing aids are 7 years old so what’s the big deal if I buy a new pair that are only two years behind the cutting edge? They’d be five years better (hopefully) than what I have now. My laptop must be about 5 years old and does everything I want from a laptop.
There’s nothing wrong with it as long as you are aware that it is what you’re getting. I think the discussion is going more along the lines that the providers are saying they are the latest tech when really they aren’t.
Debra, You do not have reliable information about Costco which leads me to believe you are losing lots of fat commission checks to the non-commissioned staff at Costco. Consumer Report and the New York Times both highly praise Costco Hearing aids. I had a wonderful experience after pricing 48 channel aids at Miracle Ear ( really manufactured by seimens), which were $6200 a pair. Costco’s new aids are Rexton/seimens that are also 48 channel aids at only $1700 a pair. I love them! I have a great app for my phone that lets me change lots of features of my aids right from my phone!!!
Sorry Sally, but your good experience doesn’t mean that someone else’s information is not reliable. All Debra said was that Costco doesn’t carry the latest technology. And that’s true. If the multiple professionals on this site stating it doesn’t help you believe, perhaps you’d like to call the major manufacturers whose hearing aids are sold at Costco? ReSound is the top one. Their number is (800) 248-4327. Siemens number (which is actually called signia now) isn’t listed, but there’s a contact page you can use for them. https://www.signiausa.com/contact/
Furthermore, the aids at Costco are cheaper because Costco gets bulk pricing and their cost of running a business is financed through many other products that are sold. It’s not to say that the aids at Costco aren’t good. Simply, that Costco can’t provide some things that many patients value. Whether you value education, extra service, or some of the other benefits of going to another practice is up to you….but that means the value isn’t there for YOU. You shouldn’t speak for everybody.
Ruth, personally, I have absolutely and unequivocally pleased with my Costco experience. I did my homework a few years back and went to Costco and purchased the Kirkland 5.0 aids. Under $2K at the time…today’s Kirkland 7.0 is just under $1700 for the pair….top notch quality in all aspects of product, people and price. Now, that said….many people don’t consider used aids. It is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked! They can be found on Ebay and if you do your homework ahead of time at the site that this article’s author pointed out, you can, with some patience get a fantastic bargain deal. As long as the aids are a generation within the past few years and from a recognized manufacturer, just about any audiologist will reprogram them to your chart for not a lot of time or money. You don’t need a service contract or any extended warranty…just pay as you go. If your choice of audiologist balks at such an arrangement….find someone who will accept your terms…..there are plenty who will.
You have asked many good questions. Now, we can get some comments from some of those that have gone to audiologists to see what percentage of THEIR audiologists have taken all these things into consideration. I would guess it is an almost infinitesimal fraction. It would take hours for these tests to be done correctly and lets hear from those who have had the audiologists spend this amount of time with them. I personally know of NOBODY outside of a clinical teaching hospital situation. I would willingly pay someone for all these tests at a reasonable price (say $100 per hour). But as to reality, I have now worn my hearing aids for three years, adjusted them occasionally as needed according to new audiograms and have enjoyed their benefits. I have put friends Phonak hearing aids on my Hi Pro programming device and seen just how badly their audiologist has set them (don’t worry, I haven’t changed them, only informed the individuals they might want to talk with their audiologist). At a minimum I would suggest people needing hearing aids to look online for pricing and then go to an “audiologist” to see what theirs cost and even more importantly, see if they will decouple the price of the aids from the audiological services offered (and be SURE to have them specify what exactly their services are….here your suggestions are most welcome.). Signed a Happy Hearing Aid Wearer
I have lost the high tones of my hearing and could not catch “consonants” therefore making it very hard for me to understand people. We looked around and researched a lot and we finally determined that Siemens were the best buy for me. I have free check ups with my audiologist at any time. I have free hearing aid batteries for life and a 7 year warranty on my hearing aids. I can’t believe how much improved my hearing is and my hearing aids are so comfortable I have actually climbed into bed with them on. One thing I think we must remember is that having hearing aids is not like new glasses. We will never hear as well as we did as we age while a doctor can change a glasses prescription and make us see. Anyone thinking of buying hearing aids really needs to read everything they can before they buy so that one’s expectations are clear.
I am sorry that you feel isolated. I hear you.
I have been wearing HA’s since I was 2, I am now 67.
It used to be that you go into the clinic and buy a hearing aid. Some, you still can but what bugs me is that I cannot ‘try” out all the hearing aids they usually have in a drawer. I would try them out and say things like “not loud enough” sounds funny” and weed them out until I find the one I like the best or that helps me the best.
I have tried digital but will not pay that much and it is NOT TRUE that “you get what you pay for”. Because I remember what brands I like the best from the days of old (the 70’s was the last time the drawer bit), I would buy it online. It would cost me under $200. I still have it, and it has been 6 years. They do last a long time without repairs. I was leery about buying online, but luckily no scam.
It was mailed right away and have 60 days to send it back if I did not like it. By the way, that is the LAW that all hearing aid sellers must give the buyers 60 days to see if they like it or not. No questions, total refund or try another brand. I like Siemens. I have a profound hearing loss. Just one ear is enough. Why two? a hassle if you ask me, batteries. It would be so comfortable that I forget I have it on!
It is an analog and behind the ear.
This is a most interesting page of information. I have pretty severe hearing loss, and, have recently been diagnosed with Menieres. I got my hearing aids at Miracle Ear about a year ago. It was just prior to my hospitalisation for the Menieres.
My hearing has decreased in the past year. My recent visit for readjustment at Miracle Ear yielded me the information that the hearing aids could not be adjusted upwards any more to match the hearing loss which I have.
I paid $4500.00 for the hearing aids about a year ago. I am still making payments every month. I will be making payments until 2019. They can fit me with a new pair for approx. $8,000.00. I am 82 years old.
I have tinnitus which is really terrible. It is driving me crazy. I hear music. … the same thing over and over, like a record which is ‘stuck’ Sometimes I hear a radio in the distance with talking. It is pulsatile tinnitus.
I’m wondering why I should continue to pay for the hearing aids … I can hear if the person is face to face with me. Telephone calls are almost out of the question, tho I have a good speaker phone. I find that I am putting people off more and more. I cannot hear in a roomful of people, nor can I hear anything in church. Music is distorted. I was a church organist for quite a while and, until recently, have been able to play at home. I cannot hear my grand children speak…
No, I won’t pay $8,000.00 for new ones. My question is: Why should I continue to make monthly payments on my present hearing aids ??? Margaret
First off, you should continue making payments because you purchased something and signed a contract obligating you to make payments. If you do not, you could be sent to collections.
Second, if you got the hearing aids only a year ago, they should be still under warranty and should be able to be sent back to the manufacturer to be made stronger. Most manufacturers will do that as long as the aids are under warranty. If you feel like you aren’t getting a straight answer from you provider, go straight to the manufacturer and ask them. Miracle Ear uses ReSound.
Third, if you’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s, then your condition is really out of the league of a typical hearing aid dealer. You should be working with an ENT or Audiologist who is familiar with the disease, treatment, and someone who can look into the pulsating tinnitus (pulsating is not typical, even for Meniere’s.)
Please don’t give up. What you’re describing is the beginning of a long, lonely, depressing road.
I am speechless
Sorry for the slightly off topic reply but this is crucial to me. Two close relatives have Menieres and I have symptoms. There is no cure to my knowledge so what did the hospital do for you? Or was this an attack and you went to ER but they could do nothing? [this is common]
Costco most certainly does use licensed audiologists. At least here in Houston TX. I have to think a lot of the Costco bashing comes from independent retailers who have been threatened by Costco’s dramatically undercutting them in pricing (similar to contact lenses) and have made up less than truthful reviews in order to protect their own territory.
The one disadvantage with Costco that I can see is that they do not accept insurance. You have to pay them and have your insurance reimburse you.
I just came back from having a hearing test at a local audiologist. I tried on a pair, and it seemed that they would be very helpful. I asked about the price. The cost is $6,800. I left.
If the price is the issue, you call him or her back and let them know that the price is something you cannot or will not be able to work with and say that you need to look at some other options. I’m sure he would be happy to help you find a solution that fits your budget and your needs….but if you don’t tell the person what the issue is, you’ve tied their hands.
there is room for negotation in those high quotes. It is like buying a new car, except the margins are much higher. You might be able to negotiate them down 10, 20, maybe 30% in price.
The earring aid fitters/earing test administers at the COSTCO earing aid centers ARE NOT LICENSED AUDIOLOGISTS. COSTCO has a corporate training program. I do not say this in a negative way. But to set the record straight. I have spoken to them at length at the Houston store on Richmond Ave,
Go to Buyhear.com
Douglas…..if they are licensed, they will have their license displayed prominently. I have been in several Costco centers and they were all displaying their licenses. It is a state law in just about every state, in fact, I’m not aware of any that is isn’t the law.
It’s that they are not Licenced AUDIOLOGISTS. In the state of Oklahoma they are called Licenced dealers and fitters. It requires a small written test and can easily be acquired within a month or so. A Licenced Audiologist has a doctorate degree and has spent years learning about the ear and associated medical abnormalities. An Audiologist also completes a year residency prior to graduation before they are allowed to operate on their own.
The main difference is that a dealer typically does the minimum required in order to sell hearing aids. An audiologist typically does more testing to rule out any medical problems first and then moves to hearing aids if warranted and does additional testing to verify how much benefit hearing aids will give a person so that reasonable expectations can be set.
There are actually many disadvantages going with Costco.
– Costco may have an Audiologist but they certainly are NOT Doctors of Audiology. Doctors of Audiology have 8+ years of schooling unlike Costco employees that go through a corporate training program.
– The technology of their hearing aids is proprietary. Audiologists refuse to even purchase the software to program them because the technology is so awful and cheap.
– You get what you pay for. The prices are low because the technology is worthless. Have you heard of the 18 rule? Of all consumers purchasing devices from Costco and similar big box stores only 18% return to them. Hearing aids from Audiologists are worn for 5+ years where as many people find that Costco hearing aids aren’t good for more than 18 months.
– Hearing aids are only as good as the professionals that program them and the employees Costco puts through their training could be anyone for store manager to cashier. Ask yourself, what kind of Patient Care are you really receiving?
– At Costco you are a customer and not a patient. Their goal is to sell you a hearing aid and never see you again. They don’t schedule follow- up appointments to insure satisfaction with the hearing aids.
– The hearing aids are dirt cheap because Costco doesn’t make any money off of the products it sells, only off of the memberships. They won’t tell you this when you purchase your hearing aids but unless you remain a member the so-called warranty the offer is invalid.
I encourage anyone reading this to find a local, reputable audiologist. Look on Angie’s List or find a BBB accredited office in your area.
For more information take a look at this website:
you have to ask your audiologist for the full range of prices for hearing aids. don’t settle for the first ones offered. Also, Costco does not have the most recent models, no matter what they tell you. The manufacturers that sell all the clinics, both private and big chain, make it like that. So if you want the latest technology, you have to go private. The good news is, they clinicians in Private are usually much more available to look after you should problems arise. Getting into Costco for follow-up treatments is terrible. If you don’t want the current technology, the local stores should have the same price points as the big chains. I personally find the service much better at local stores, plus you do support the local economy. Big chains jut take most of the money out of the area. And one last thing, don’t wait to get hearing aids, it just makes it really hard to benefit from them when you decide to wear them.
I’m going to take both sides here. I do think hearing clinics should take more steps to increase transparency, breadth of choice, and price competitiveness. The market is changing and we need to change with it. The baby boomers really do their homework and won’t spend their money unless they value.
On the flip side, however, I don’t think online hearing aids are a good option. Too many risk factors for the consumer. Who takes responsibility for the accuracy of the hearing test? How can adjustments be done remotely? What about real-ear-measurements? Cleaning? Otoscopy? I bought one for the purpose of research and it was definitely not “as advertised”. Let’s just say I have a Better Business Bureau “unresolved” complaint that I don’t expect will be resolved any time soon.
Here in Ontario all residents get $500 per ear (every five years) as a gov’t subsidy. After subsidies, our clinic is able to sell quality hearing solutions (including lifetime service plan) for $450 per ear. With these smaller margins we still depend on volume, but we’re excited to give it a try. We like being busy.
Honestly, there’s plenty of money to go around. These are tough economic times but hearing aids shouldn’t be a luxury that only 20% of those with hearing loss can afford. https://seniorplanet.org//www.hearingaidsource.ca
I really have to take issue with a few of the points made here. I agree that transparency and honest pricing is needed in the hearing aid industry and in all healthcare industries. That an audiologist is a “middle man”, in a negative sense, is a really preposterous point to make. The professional who has gone through years of schooling and experience to know how to fit a medical device is not my definition of a middle man. It is unfortunate that articles like this one push the idea that a hearing aid is merely a product, or a device to be bought at the price it was manufactured at. Ask almost anyone who bought “hearing aids” online and I bet you will find some very unhappy customers. The idea these companies can charge a fraction of the price for comparable hearing quality and that you can have these fit remotely or with one visit to a local “affiliate” sounds too good to be true, because it is. That is because the level of research and development that goes into the creation of FDA regulated hearing aids (which are not sold online, only unregulated sound amplifiers can be sold directly to consumers without the supervision of a professional) go far beyond what that cheap price tag can offer. And the expertise of the professional in testing your hearing, programming your devices, customizing the sound and fit to you, and most especially counseling you and listening as you adjust to this life-altering new experience, all come at a price. Now, I think the real question of price should be focused on the insurance companies stubbornness to offer reasonable policies to the patients that need these so desperately. Hearing aids don’t just bring you back into the conversation, they reduce your risk of falling, increase your level of safety, they reduce cognitive decline…the benefits are endless and the price is most definitely worth it. It is unfortunate that the majority of hearing aid cost is placed on the patient at the moment, but even so, I hear everyday that the investment was worth it to my patients. I am not mad at the manufacturers who are making these amazing devices, and I am by no means embarrassed by the price that I place on my time and expertise in taking care of my patients, but I am mad at the insurance companies that don’t help like they would with any other major medical expense.
I reckon hearing aids are ludicrously expensive when you compare them with similar electronic equipment.
And what would you consider “similar electronic equipment”? Hearing aid chips can be as little as a 3mm square and the technology is capable of analyzing and adjusting for an environment more than 100 times per second. It’s does much more at a fraction of the size of any standard computer, laptop, or cell phone and has as much processing power as any of those devices, but only uses a battery the size of a shirt button.
You can’t really compare a hearing aid to any of these because other than being electronic devices, they have nothing in common at all. That’s like comparing the cost of a pacemaker to the cost of a metronome because they both “count beats”.
A hearing aid is a DSP (single integrated chip digital signal processor) and they are manufactured by a few companies ie: Siemens, Texas Instruments etc…..there are many. All manufacturers provide the programming tool kit for their chipset and the aid manufacturer merely ‘turns on’ the features that it wants to enable. I would take issue with those here that say the Costco hearing aids are not current technology. Each company that makes the DSP, drops the old ones as soon as new designs are put into production. DSP’s sample sound. The more samples per second, the better…. DSP’s form factor is getting smaller and at the same time more capability is enabled withing the same footprint as the previous generation….these capabilities are part of the software toolkit that is unique to each DSP ‘model’. No chip manufacturer…let me repeat….no chip manufacturer will make money by focusing on the old technology…especially if only one customer wants it. The volume of chips to sell would have to be phenomenally huge to make it worthwhile since the margins drop precipitously over a one year period. It’s a very competitive business.
I’m also amazed at the parochial stance presented in some of these comments regarding who’s good, better, best at providing product delivery. As I stated elsewhere….no one can dispense hearing aids in the US without a license. Audiologist’s have to be licensed. Dispensers have to be licensed. In some sates it’s the same license and in others, they are different. License issue is by state and not across state lines. Not every state bases licensing on the same set of criteria. This bears restating…..each state has it’s own set of prerequisites, tenure (like a journeyman apprentice) and education requirements. Certification is a separate piece of paper and can cross state lines. An electrician can be licensed in Ohio, but that won’t allow him to work in Indiana. That said, an Au. D. degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will be thrilled with the outcome of your experience. It still boils down to the person and their dedication to craft as well as how they maintain their ‘edge’ with keeping current. This can be the person at Costco or the person at Miracle Ear. The hearing aid biz suffers from the same issues as any other….think financial advisors…… Some are good, some are better, and some are nothing but used car salesmen…regardless how many pieces of paper they have up on the wall. Quite frankly, to say that only an Audiologist can provide what you need in hearing aids and will do it better than anyone else is a bit uppity and hasn’t been my experience in the least. Buying glasses is a perfect analogy. If you need glasses, go to an optometrist. They have the same equipment as the eye doctor and in some cases, better. If you need cataract surgery, go to an eye doctor. You may still need glasses afterwards, but you can get them cheaper at an optometrist….or on line!
Absolutely! My “Hollywood” level film editing station by Apple costs less! It can process thousands and thousands of items per millisecond. Billions per second…
I can edit 4 k ultra high definition films on it in real time. It cost $3000 less than the high end hearing aids. See a problem with that? I sure do…. :-/
Actually Kathleen, the chips in some of the phones out now, are far superior to theses hearing aid chips. And cost about $34 per chip for the manufactures. If you would like to get into a full blown discussion on specs, the differences between these hearing aid chips and cell phone and other small electronic micro processors, we can definitely do that here. I can promise you, I have some vast knowledge on this. And it is not favorable toward the hearing aids.
There is severe price gouging going on. Point blank…
Some truly wonderful innovations have made in the hearing aid technology world. BUT, hearing aids aren’t very big and just how much can be stuffed into them and their accessories? Presumably computer chip(s) are involved by the thousands’ Of course research is ongoing. However for two grand or even $400 an ear just what does it take? For four grand or $800 one can buy a couple of very sophisticated computers or even several new laptops. I’m not much impressed by the ‘package” of goods and services peddled by the local hearing aid shops . I wonder how many folks would be quite adequately served by nothing more than the $15 +/- pieces from, China, Hong Kong, etc. available on eBay. Aesthetics be damned.
Nonsense. I have just paid out $6000 and now read that a user in his 7o,s paid $178. Explain that. You really mean my Phonak hearing aid is far more sophisticated than atop of the range computer. Give me a break please
You have the scam figured out my friend…
Absolutely! My “Hollywood” level film editing station by Apple costs less! It can process thousands and thousands of items per millisecond. Billions per second…
I can edit 4 k ultra high definition films on it in real time. It cost $3000 less than the high end hearing aids. See a problem with that? I sure do…. :-/
I also carry a phone that has a vastly superior chip. And you may as well. My phone cost? $200….
My company designs and sells chips for hearing devices… the chip itself sells for only a few dollars. Someone’s making big money between us and the hearing impaired consumer…..
Not true at all. The hearing aid industry spends millions on research and development. I believe there are providers on here who have said they pay around 2000 for a hearing aid. So it makes sense that they charge 4000 for that same age. Especially when you consider that they will have to spend hours with a person providing services. Testing, programming, cleaning, maintenance. The average lifespan of a hearing aid is 5 years. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that a provider should get paid 2000 for a device and for 5 years of work.
That’s so interesting! Can you tell more about that ? How much of the processing comes from the chip itself versus programming? I don’t know much about computers, so I don’t know how this works! Do you all sell to only one manufacturer or many of them? How many kinds of chips are there?
Thank you for confirming my statement above Bob!!!!
I already knew this from research. But you have reaffirmed my statements above!
Absolutely! My “Hollywood” level film editing station by Apple costs less! It can process thousands and thousands of items per millisecond. Billions per second…
I can edit 4 k ultra high definition films on it in real time. It cost $3000 less than the high end hearing aids. See a problem with that? I sure do…. :-/
I apologize if this is a repeat – I did not read the entire thread.
My father in law was an audiologist in the early days so I understand many of the comments here.
I think the point is that pricing is currently being held in secure vaults and not openly released. If I want to buy a Jeep Cherokee I can check prices from alternative sources. If I want to buy a TV or a computer, I can check prices. Hearing aids are after all a commodity. I can buy my Cherokee from a dealer that provides good service or one that provides bad service. Bad service will not support any future business.
Hearing aid costs should be an open book just like computers, TV’s or computers, with comparison info available on line. Failure to do this creates a suspicion by the buying public.
I think many people miss the point here. Hearing aids are not a basic commodity like cars, tv’s, or computers. They are more like medical devices. You can shop for a car because a car will work for anybody. Hearing aids are not like that. One type of hearing aid will not work for everyone with a hearing loss, even if it is the same type of hearing loss. It would be more like calling a physician and saying “My arm is hurt. How much will it cost to fix it?” Without knowing if the arm is bruised, sprained, cut, broken or a number of other issues, there is no possible way to know the exact cost of the fix.
Before the hearing aid type (and thus price) can be determined, you have to know how bad the loss is, where the loss is occurring (outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, nerve, or even brain). You also have to determine how well a person can comprehend speech because there are some types of loss that hearing aids cannot fix. Without knowing all this information an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser cannot ethically prescribe a specific type of hearing aid to anybody.
I am a retired Hearing Aid Dispenser and very familiar with most every brand of hearing aid, selection, pricing, service and fitting. In my 65 years I have observed that the mark-up on hearing aids is anywhere between 300- 500%. The commission for selling a hearing aid is anywhere between 20- 35% (call them whatever you want they all get it). Audiologist/Dispensers and Hearing Aid Specialists/Dispensers have a lot of pre-owned hearing aids that still work great or can be refurbished to fit another person (primarily over-the-ear) if they cannot afford a new one. There are also plenty of adjustments that can be made in the office without sending them in. When I hear how people (especially our seniors living on Medicare) are getting ripped off it really upsets me. So there is no reason at all that a person should be denied a hearing aid because they cannot pay the ridiculous marked-up price.
Linda stop right there. Please don’t compare Audiologists to “dispensers.” Audiologists DO NOT re-sell hearing aids because the technology becomes out-dated and it’s shady to do that. Dispensers do not have nearly the same amount of education as Audiologists. I know the requirements for Dispensers vary state-to -state but let me set the record straight. Doctors of Audiology spend 8+ years in college educating themselves on hearing loss and how to help the hearing impaired. Dispensers DO NOT. The so-called mark up on hearing aids you speak of isn’t for profit. The manufacturers audiologists use take the money and dump it back into research. Hearing aids are improving daily. They can now help with hyperacusis and tinnitus. Dispensers aren’t allowed to get involved with tinnitus rehab at all because they are so poorly educated(this is state regulated). I will agree that places are taking advantage of seniors(Beltone, Audibel, Zounds, etc.). This is why I strongly encourage anyone that is hearing impaired to seek out a reputable Doctor of Audiology in their area. They will get the help, service, and patient care they need.
Cathleen, no one expects the audiologist to give you a a certain hearing aid over the phone, but if you have been to the audiologist, and have been given a quote on the type of hearing aid that will suit your type of hearing loss, thwen surely you can expect to phone around for quotes on those type of hearing aids, but the price gouging that I have personally experienced should be taken up by fair trade. price differences amounting to thousands of dollars difference for the exact same product, it beggars belief.
You say no one expects that over the phone, but many do. From the comments on here, it’s obvious, and I have had many phone calls wanting a recommendation based on no hearing test at all.
And yes, you can phone around for quotes, but it still isn’t a good answer. You’re not simply buying hearing aids. I spend an hour and a half with my patients on the first visit to get an appropriate view on their struggles, needs, lifestyles, and test results. I do more testing than anyone else in my town because my goal is to appropriately assess the needs and the problems I’m going to run into.
For example, there’s a group in my town that only runs the test with the beeps and then one speech test and then tells patients that with their hearing aids they’ll hear perfectly in noise…..without even testing them in noise! So yes, they’re cheaper than me, but in the end, they have a lot more unhappy people.
On average, a person who purchases a hearing aid will have to see their provider 3-5 times before the settings are completed. You will also have to come in to the office for a regular cleanings, averaging 5 times a year. This does not include any additional adjustments or modifications to the actual hearing aid if needed. There are also repairs, batteries, insurance, and even shipping back and forth to the manufacturer. All of these things come at a price. If you just call someone and ask them how much a hearing aid is, you are not getting the whole picture.
Let’s say one person says hearing aids cost 3000.
The next place may have the same pair for 1500.
Later you may find out that the aids are 1500. Repairs are $500 a piece. Cleanings are $25-50. Needed parts are 10-100 a piece. You have to pay shipping and there’s also no guarantee on services, repairs, and there is no loss and damage, so if you lose the aid, you just have to buy again. To top it all off, you might not even be working with someone who has the needed experience and education to actually program the hearing aids to make them work for you.
Just like shopping for anything, you should be suspicious of major price differences, but not always of the more expensive one. In my area, and I suspect most areas, there is very little difference as long as you are comparing apples to apples. So if you do find a pair of aids that are actually the same, you should wonder why one place’s aids are so much cheaper than everyone else’s. There’s probably a reason.
What absolute nonsense. This sounds like the hearing aid seller talking. Ask most people who have purchased hearing aids and check their experience. Buying a pair of glasses is similar to getting hearing aids and the cost is nowhere near what these hearing aid suppliers charge. My first pair were $6,000 8 years ago; Oticon Delta. When, after 5 years I asked if the volume could be increased, as all adjustments have to be made on their computer software, they said no and sold gullible me a new Phonak for $5,300. As I am totally deaf in the left ear I only need one hearing aid so in that regard I’m lucky.
You cannot possibly know what the mark-up is for various audiologists and hearing aid dispensers as you cannot ask. Laws preventing this are in place to prevent price fixing. I’m a doctoral level audiology student that has worked in 4 different audiology offices. The average mark-up at any of these offices is nowhere close to 300-500%. It’s more like 100% which is standard. This includes warranty, loss & damage, and the time and expertise of the audiologist, among other things that I’ve probably missed. Your comment is very eye opening as to the practices of hearing aid dispensers. By the way, Costco, a big corporation that is only in the market to make money, has a mark-up of about 300%. This is widely known throughout the audiology field due to someone that was involved with this company that had knowledge of price at which the hearing aids were bought by Costco making this information public. Several of their locations don’t even employ audiologists who would be most qualified to fit hearing aids as they have spent 8 years in college with 4 of those years learning about nothing but audiology, not to mention continued education. This is not to say that there aren’t hearing aid dispensers that truly care about their patients that do a great job, also, not all audiologists have their patients’ best interest at heart. As someone mentioned above, it is difficult to schedule an appointment for follow-ups, and these follow-up visits are a huge part of the adjustment process to and success with hearing aids. These points support my claim about their only interest being to make money.
You are right Chatty! I have worn hearing aides for 30 years. As a counselor and instructor, accurate communication is not just a nicety it is absolutely necessary. Things may be different for a 70 year old who has gradually lost some of his hearing and wants to be able to hear the TV. Maybe a cheap amplifier is good enough for his needs. But for those who want to HEAR: a conversation at a restaurant, music the way they remember it, or their grandchild’s soft voice, then a qualified audiologist can help you pick the hearing aide that will best meet your needs and then help you make the fine adjustments that make it so much more than just an amplifier. Some will call these ‘extra’ bells and whistles but for me they are the difference between having an aide that I can really use and like many frustrated recipients of inadequate aides, just putting it in a drawer and living in isolation. If you don’t know what it is like to lose your hearing you can’t really understand the difference. One thing that I have not seen discussed here is that as you lose your hearing it is not just a loss of volume. Your brain tries to compensate by shutting off the filters it uses to screen out the irrelevant background noise so that you can hear the conversation you are trying to have. Good hearing aides will replace the filtering that your brain used to do and may not be able to do again, as well as amplify the frequencies that are most useful I communication and respond to your specific loss. Would I like to get my aides for less – you bet! Would I like it if hearing aides weren’t excluded from health insurance coverage – again you bet! I understand that not everyone can afford the high cost of good hearing aides and the assistance of a qualified audiologist but you cannot pretend that mail order, older generation aides with no assistance in adjusting them to your individual needs will result in the same hearing improvement. I have had at least 6 sets of hearing aides over the years and the improvements in the technology each time was amazing! It is not like the difference between an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6s. It is more like the difference between an iPhone 6s and two cans and a string.
I find it very disconcerting that people really believe that hearing centers actually use an audiologist to fit and train your hearing aide. NOT MY EXPERIENCE. I have taken my son to reputable hearing center in the area associated with one of the major hospitals. The person fitting my son might have been educated 30 yrs ago. She only presented us with the most expensive brand even after we asked several times to see all of the models they carried. She basically ignored us. We have tried 2 types of aides both of which are over 6,000$ for both. You can’t tell me that child that has moderate hearing loss needs aides for someone that is have severe loss? We are searching for second opinions but by the time we get into another facility he is loosing education time in school. Moving to the front of the room etc can only help for a while.
Some of the comments on here are not helpful and I came here looking for beneficial advice.
Hi Minime, you might want to check out our more recent article “The Latest in Hearing Aids and Hearables” https://seniorplanet.org/the-latest-in-hearing-aids-hearables/
I’m sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds like the person you were working with didn’t have your son’s best interest in mind. I did sense a bit of confusion in what you said regarding the severity of hearing loss and the hearing aid choice. To clarify, the severity of the loss, whether moderate or severe doesn’t determine what type of hearing aid is recommended. A low level aid can fit anyone from mild to profound. It’s the level of technology that makes the difference. So it’s more in terms of the number of adjustments that can be made and the sensitivity of the aid and the amount of noise control it has. If he is in a lot of noise and varied environments, like most kids are, a higher level of technology would probably be recommended.
The reason hearing aids are cheaper at Costco is because they provide older model hearing aids, without many of the features that you would get through a dedicated hearing provider. Futhermore, most of the time, you are not dealing with an Audiologist. You are dealing with somebody with far less educational qualifications. They are a good budget option, but do you really expect to get the same hearing aid and service for a cheaper price? That rarely happens in ANY industry.
Wow! Is this article presenting information that is misleading! With 114 comments already ahead of mine, I don’t think my comment will help, but I can’s just let this slide. It sounds like this was written by a hearing aid “specialist” dealer or at least un gullible person that was handed some major misinformation.
I am an audiologist. I have a private hearing aid office. My prices are LOWER than BJs, Costco,… I have had patients come to me due to not hearing well and I have found two brain tumors (Yep, you read that right!), middle ear tumors, and a variety of other medical conditions! A hearing aid “specialist” is not trained to find these problems. I have had university courses in amplification, externship experience with both medical and hearing aid settings, and I have years of experience.
To paint audiologists with this broad brush is just criminal and such a disservice to the hearing impaired!
An Audiologist cannot diagnose any pathology of the ear….Certainly not brain tumors…
You’re right Matt, they can’t. But the audiologist does screenings for medical anomalies that can tell if a person needs to get medically evaluated. When a person does an online hearing test, or a test that only measures their ability to hear tones, it doesn’t tell why. The audiologist looks deeper to make sure that the loss is not caused by any major medical issues. And while I as an audiologist cannot diagnose a patient with a tumor, I can look at the results and suspect a tumor. Then I refer a patient out to look further into the problem. Without that extra testing, many of my patients could have purchased hearing aids and then later suffered much worse consequences due the lack of medical care.
About 22 years ago I bought a pair of Siemens BTE for my mom for $750 who lived oversea and had severe hearing loss. I wanted her to enjoy her daily life, able to hear well. It failed as when the unit was in high volume, I could hear the sound of the unit. Three years ago, I started to have hearing loss. I couldn’t hear exactly what people were saying in a meeting. Then I got myself a pair of Siemens Pure Carat 501 BTE for $1400 after my insurance paid $4000. It wasn’t as great even after many adjustments within the last 3 years. I am still not able to hear people who talk softly and sharp noise which was amplified became too loud. As my insurance is paying for $4000 again this year, I would like to get a better one . I would like to try a Seimens Pure Binax 5bx or 7bx ITC . The 5bx BTE according to the dispenser will cost me $3400. Does anyone has an opinion or advice on how good the above models are. Will I get a 18/20 or 19/20 hearing?
I am a NJ licensed Hearing Instrument Dispenser and you have a very narrow view of what we do as dispensers. I have also sent my patients out for a medical referral due to a suspected acoustic neuroma. (Slow growing tumor of the middle ear.) I have heard back from several that due to my testing and referrals, acoustic neuroms were found by their ENT. I respect the fact that you have more education, but I have over 10 years of experience helping people achieve a better quality of life. There is room in this field for both of us. I have seen both wonderful and terrible examples of both Audiologists and dispensers. Please don’t discourage people from receiving help just because it may be in a different setting than yours.
You are right that legally, an audiologist cannot make a medical diagnosis, however, our training is such that we can identify tumors and other ear pathologies. My test results looked like a textbook case of an acoustic neuroma and I referred to an ENT. MRI results confirmed my findings and the official “diagnosis” was then made. I have found many medical ear pathologies.
FYI, this article really upsets me. I go to college for 6 years and study my butt off to provide the best care, then I have to compete against hearing aid “specialists” that know so little in comparison. I have to offer free hearing tests to compete with these hearing aids dealers, then after giving my work away for free, people think that I will give them the results, so they can then go buy them somewhere else!
Everyone thinks that audiologist are making a killing. The eye physician down the street hired a hearing aid dealer to sell them out of his eye office. They would come for an eye appointment, then he would have them go down the hall for a hearing eval and try to sell them aids. Even with feeding patients to his hearing aid dealer, and selling them for more than me, they only lasted a couple of years and then went belly-up. BJs came in, just like Cosco and started to sell them. A few years later, belly up. Then they all think they can come to me for free servicing and free warranty work.
News flash: I have bills to pay. I have rent to pay, advertisement, phone,… The manufactures charge me A TON! My markup is very low. The only way I can keep my doors open is I also work teaching at a university. If this was my only job I would have to close my doors too.
A guy come in last week and rudely commented to his wife that he would love to see my house (imply that I must live in a mansion.) I am so angry with myself for not saying anything! I sat there with a hole in my shoe! I would love for him to see my house too, then maybe he would shut his mouth.
The big companies sell them to ME at high prices. I tried buying from small companies with better prices before, but then they went belly up and me and my patients were left hanging. I had sold the aids and the warranty were through the company that was no more. I had to pay out of my family’s budget to have a third company repair them for free for the patient. I can’t afford braces for my own child.
I’m sick of it!
Where re you located
WHERE is your office???
Wrong on all accounts Ashley, you must be an Audiologist. Lower price does NOT mean lower quality, it just means their mark-up is less. People that test, select and fit hearing aids have taken the classes, tests and are licensed by the state before they are allowed to practice. Shame on you for not giving these highly qualified people credit for helping the hearing impaired.
You’re jumping the gun when you’re looking at models without comparing test results. It’s like asking a doctor to fix your arm without an x-ray to confirm if it’s broken or sprained. Your ability to understand won’t change much with any model of hearing aid. Understanding happens in the brain, not the ear. For example, I have perfect hearing and when someone talks to me in French, I hear everything but understand very little. Ears hear sound…the brain puts all those sounds together to form language. A full evaluation would give you an idea of how well you would understand. you need to find someone who can help you work through expectations based on your test and then find the right hearing aid that will fit your needs. And unless you’ve worked with hearing aids, you can’t make that decision. You can have ever spec sheet available to you and you’re still not going to know how they compare because every manufacturer says theirs is the best and professions who work with only one type of hearing aid will say theirs is the best too. Your best bet is to find someone who has experience with multiple hearing aid manufactures who can give you the unofficial down low. For example, Starkey is a great company that is very aggressive on noise. So if I test someone and see that they have problems in noise, I might look toward Starkey. But if they’re sensitive to sounds, I might look more towards Oticon which has a softer approach to amplification. Not all hearing aid companies sound the same even with the exact same test results. There’s no way to possibly determine what’s best without the insight of someone who has worked with a variety of types.
By your post, I’m assuming the person you’re working with primarily does Siemens. Why else would a professional recommend something that clearly didn’t make you happy. Why would you struggle for three years and then sign up to do it again? They’re both fine models, but be wary of your trial period. If you struggled for three years, make sure you’re happy before the trial period is up. If not, you might try a different company. It might not be your hearing, it might be the quality of the sound that you don’t like. It could also be that no one has ever sat down with you and explained exactly what to expect. Someone should be able to say to you “You should be able to understand _____% when in a quiet situation” AND they should also be able to tell you how well you will be able to understand in noise. Because those are two seperate situations all together.
Well I understand what you are saying but most seniors have a limited income and can’t afford the better ones as you say. They would love to have better ones but until insurance companies or medicare insurance covers the device…..which it will never ever happen. There is NO one working to help seniors to get better quality hearing devices because NO ONE CARES to get it done. Where are the good politicains or someone to do something about it…none! They are only worried about themselves most of them and not enough good ones to get the job done!!
I’m wondering about those people who have Meniere’s disease. Luckily, I don’t have a lot of vertigo with my Meniere’s disease. But my right auditory nerve is all but destroyed and although I test as though I have some hearing in that ear, you wouldn’t know it by me.
My low tones are missing and I have nothing but white noise coming from my right ear. The aid that I have tried does nothing but distort sounds and really, makes things worse. My left ear tests with some normal loss too.
Would any of you know what brand of aid might be good for me and if getting aids for both ears would be beneficial or just for my “good left ear?
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and give me any answers you might have.
I too have Meniere’s disease with profound hearing loss. Totally deaf in my right ear and minimal hearing in my left ear.
Forget digital hearing aids, they will be totally useless. You need Analog and unfortunately they don’t make them anymore.
Many of us out there are screaming for Analog Hearing aids. Here’s what I do, I look on ebay and buy analog hearing aids from there and take them to my Audiologist to have them adjusted and new molds made. Trust me, best thing you can do, your Ears will thank for it. :) China still make Analog Hearing aids as well thank god! Check made in china website.
I’m actually thinking of starting my business producing analog Hearing aids, as I said there are thousands of people out there screaming for them and I do believe i would make a killing financially.
Nancy, don’t listen to Maurice. Another person who wants to equate one experience with everybody. After all, if I like strawberries, everyone else must too, right? There is absolutely no evidence in all studies on Meniere’s disease that says analog hearing aids are more beneficial than digital. In fact, it’s usually the opposite because analog hearing aids are not capable of amplifying the sound in the areas that are commonly lost with the disease, without distortion. What many people don’t know is that there is a big difference between hearing, and understanding. For many , hearing aids can make you hear, but they don’t do a lot for speech. What you need to do is get some testing done that measures your ability to understand speech…not just hear sounds. That will give you a good idea whether hearing aids of any kind will help you. If during the testing you find that you cannot understand speech, then hearing aids of any type are not a good option for you. If it gets to that point, then you’re next step, if you choose, would be to talk to an ENT about surgical options.
I am getting into this discussion rather late, but I also have Meniere’s disease. Hearing in my left ear is almost gone. I have worn a hearing aid in that ear for a number of years. It definitely helps. I still can’t hear on the phone, etc., but sure can tell in normal living when I don’t have it in. It also helps cut the “ringing” noise. Obviously nothing is going to make that ear normal again, but I would recommend trying a hearing aid.
You should try cross & bi-cross h.a. From seimans.
The one on your bad ear will pick up the sound on that side and send it to h.a. On good side.
Works for me
It sounds like a BICROS aid would be good for you. It would take the sound from your poor ear and send it to your better ear. The regular hearing aid in your better ear would be set for your prescription and you would hear everything on that side.
i just went to health innovations on line and the price for aids $800 to $1000, and with united health insurance it goes down only $200 ,which is still a great price but the comments above must be very old.
This is an editorial piece and sounds like you have resentment from the original purchase at the University where you may have been seen by a green under the collar student; for all we know. Spending $2500 on a pair of hearing aids seems like it may have sparked a conversation or at least some questions. Why didn’t you ask them? Where is your responsibility as a consumer? Another victim of a hearing aid scandal, I guess? Try implementing some facts into this piece so the readers get informed, instead of your opinion, which sounds misleading. You have no evidence to support your claims about cost, and why people do not seek help. All of this misleading information on the web is harmful; and so is your article. Costco’s cheaper costs have nothing to do with commission, it has to do with market share. Health Innovations is an illegal mail order hearing aid company that partnered with United Health Care to supply their patients with cheap hearing aids; they send you a pair of hearing aids in the mail. You then have to fin someone to program and service them for you which is additional cost. Furthermore, most Audiologist make less than $25 per pair of hearing aids sold in commission as a provider in addition to the salary they may have as well. Audiologist attend college and achieve 2-3 college degrees before working with patients ( in most cases an AuD-Audiology Doctorate, no less than a Master’s Degree). That education and expertise is valuable in most cases. The evidence states that the number one reason for success in their fittings is the provider-choose wisely. Better Hearing Institute.org has a buying hearing aid guide for download. Astronomical is subjective? Medciare HMO and medcaid cover costs of hearing aids as well as some commercial insurances. Loss and damage replacements under warranty, research and development, marketing, and microtizing and nano technology are what drive cost up. There is no evidence stating that cost is number one reason, in fact it’s about number 10, as to why people do not buy hearing aids. Articles like this help keep the wedge between people seeking help and being stuck in a lack luster world where everyone sounds like the are mumbling for an average of 10 years. You hear with your brain not with your ear-don’t ignore the problem. Foundations provide free hearing aids to the poor everyday, all day. Amazes and saddens me that this made it to the internet. For a tech savvy “older lady” this article sounds like a personal agenda. People do not go into helping fields to become rich; they do it for the passion to help. Check your facts.
I know this is a late (maybe too late) Post. This is the dumbest post on here I have read. They make $25??? OMG get real. I hope that is a typo because it’s more like they make $2500.
The post you said was dumb discusses what an audiologist gets paid to program a hearing aid purchased from a 3rd party company off the internet not what we make by selling a set of hearing instruments ourselves. We are reimbursed very little for our time, expertise and follow up care provided to the client who is only looking for a cheap hearing aid, so yes, we get paid very little for the service provided. Think about it…if the client only spends $500-800 for a hearing aid how can we make $2500?
I WISH TO KNOW WHO CAN SET MY HEARING AIDS- 2 ONE FOR EACH EAR, PURCHASED FROM ON LINE IE EBAY…..
Cost is number 10 reason why people don’t buy hearing aids? That’s ridiculous. That’s the ONLY reason I don’t have them and now my hearing is that bad I have to figure out how to afford them. I know hearing aids are big business, there seems to be a shop offering “free hearing tests” in every plaza.
Hi Gracie! I would encourage you look into the HearNow program through Starkey, or the Sight and Sound Foundation. There are programs to help people with low-income get hearing aids- finances shouldn’t keep you from getting hearing aids! Also, call around. I know an audiologist who sells hearing aids at a reduced discount to help people who can’t afford the newest technology. It takes some work, but there’s help out there!
Hearing Amplifiers are available on line starting at around $35.00 a pair. They look & feel IDENTICAL TO THE EXPENSIVE ONES! They amplify sound. . . . JUST LIKE THE EXPENSIVE ONES! I’m not a scientist, BUT COME ON. . . . THE UNBRANDED CHEAPO MODELS WORK FINE! ! ! Of course you don’t get a GPS or Blue Tooth capability. . . . But you sure get something that helps you hear! Check it out on Amazon. . . . Stop getting taken advantage of by the “Medical Professionals”.
Amplifiers and hearing aids are not the same, however. Amplifiers will make ALL noises louder- and if you’ve ever increased the volume on your television and found the show is louder, but not clearer, you’ll see why amplifiers are not the ideal solution for everyone. For certain hearing losses, and in certain situations, amplifiers can be beneficial. Hearing aids are programmed specifically to your hearing loss so that you get appropriate amplification depending on the frequency and loudness of the sound you’re listening to. Amplifiers won’t give you that. Yes, they’re cheaper, but there’s a reason for it! They are not technologically equivalent in any capacity, even if they look the same.
Hi Mitch, I’m curious as to whether or not you question all doctor’s professions? These licensed professionals go through years of schooling to serve the community. Good luck with your amplifier. Did it come with a disclaimer letting you know that more than likely you will damage your limited hearing using that device? Probably not because they aren’t FDA regulated. Hearing aids are customized to the user so they don’t further increase hearing loss. In fact amplifiers are considered quite dangerous. It also doesn’t come with hundreds of modification options including but not limited to: background noise cancellation, tinnitus programming, and hyperacusis management. I encourage you and every other hearing impaired person to seek an audiologist in the area with reputable sources – satisfied patients and credibility including local service awards and BBB certification.
Kudos to you in trying to educate the hearing aid consumer, as there is a great deal of incorrect information out there. I read this article from both the consumer and audiologist points of view, both categories of which I am in. I must say though that there is a great deal of misinformation in this article. This is more than a mere comment can address but I would be happy to clear some of this up with you ofline, if you are so inclined.
I wear glasses and O2. I have an over the ear Red Dot that I don’t use because it flies off of my ear. What should I replace it with?
Try switching to a custom hearing aid. If your hearing loss permits, the CIC is the smallest. The ITC is a bit bigger and will work for any hearing loss as long as it is made with the right amount of power.
I would recommend a hearing aid that fits in your ear, not over the top of your ear. You will need to see an audiologist or a hearing aid dispenser to have an impression taken of your ear if you want it to fit well. I’m so sorry behind-the-ear hearing aids often don’t fit well with O2 tubing! It’s possible that having a custom near coupling called an earmold would also work for you, but those are also made from an ear impression.
I paid $6,000 for resound hearing aids which don’t stay in my ears. I bought them for hiking and lost one on a hike. I want to be able to hear someone who’s not facing me (like hiking single file and sitting in the back seat of a car). Shouldn’t $6,000 hearing aids stay in my ears and make it possible for me to hear someone who’s not facing me without buying more accessories?
Not always. There’s a big difference between hearing and understanding. Hearing is with the ears, but understanding happens in the brain. All hearing aids do is help you get the right amount of sound into the ears. After that, it’s up to the brain to do the rest. If you had a real test with a professional, they should have tested your speech understanding abilities. It will give you a better idea what to expect. Say if you score 80% in a sound proof booth, you’re not going to do any better out in a noisy environment, no matte what you paid even though the more expensive ones do tend to help more.
It depends on how far behind you they are (hearing aids work best within about 8 feet -they’re not parabolic spy microphones!), how the hearing aid was coupled to your ear, and if your ear was hitting a helmet/strap/backpack when you were hiking. Yes, the aids should stay in your ear, but if they were a behind-the-ear or receiver-in-the-ear style with a generic dome tip, they don’t stay n as well as something with a custom-molded ear piece. And if you were bumping against something while hiking, anything can wiggle out of the ear if it’s pushed or caught. I’m so sorry it was lost. You may want to get a tether to put on your replacement aid(s) so they will stay clipped to your clothes if you go hiking again.
You are not accurate with your portrayal of the “Middle Man Audiologist”. An example, Phonak’s top of the line at Costco sells for approx. $1400 per aid. That’s a couple hundred dollars more than I can buy the aid from Phonak. Phonak is telling me it’s not the same top of the line aid because they have taken away some of the features. Blah, Blah, Blah. Phonak also owns Hearing Planet (and other dispensing companies) and last I checked the top of the line was $2800 per aid. The manufacturers are controlling the pricing not audiologists. I have stopped selling Phonak in my audiology practice. Beltone and Miracle Ear are owned by major manufacturers who control the pricing.
Sorry you paid that kind of money. I just purchased a pair of Resound Enya 3’s, from an Audiologist, For $995.00 each, and have since discovered I could have paid a little less. These are the RIC aids, with blutooth and a bunch of other goodies.
You could not possibly know what an article like this means to an older person on low income!!! I had strong suspicion that Hearing Aids were a racket, and had no idea where to go for clarification. Reading your article is like finding light in the dark- wellll, sound in the silence. THANK YOU, Eve Harvey, 81 yrs.
I have spent a considerable amount of time reading this thread. I have been wearing hearing instruments for over 50 years since the age of 7 and have been a hearing aid dispenser for 25 years and my son is an audiologist. What has not been mentioned as far as I can tell is that most of the major retailer (miracle-ear Siemans, Starkey Beltone etc) have foundations that will supply hearing aids to those that cannot afford them. Personally in my office NO one gets denied hearing help because of COST.
I don’t believe I am alone in structuring my business. As a professional I will find a way to get someone the help they need regardless of there financial ability to pay.
I’d appreciate contact information for these foundations. I did a lot of research and found nothing about foundations that help low income people get hearing aids.
Contact Starkey Foundation Hear Now program. They are amazing in working with low income people. 1-800-338-8602.
We do the same in our office. If we get down to it and the person simply cannot afford hearing aids, we have a number of programs that we work with. We’ve even donated hearing aids to patients who don’t qualify for any programs.
The biggest problem we have is identifying who needs the help. I’m not sure if it’s pride or the fact that many blogs like this one make the assumption that all Audiologists are horrible people, but too many times patient’s won’t tell me they’re struggling. They simply want a price and then they move on. It’s so hard to help someone who won’t give me all the information.
Lion’s Club helps people to buy hearing aids but you buy it from them. What they do is to re-conditioned hearing aids that people have donated but also the do have good hearing aids that people donated that did not need to be repaired or re-conditioned.
Hope that helps!
Eyn, thank you for the information. There is a post in the hearing aid forum.com, the audiologist works for costco, he started the post on 4/2/15 and already has received over 17,000 views. He gives different information than the one you are giving.
There is so much conflicting information because there is no transparency in the hearing aids industry as a whole and as such there is no way to clearly compare cost.
Please check the post and give us your opinion.
The reason Costco Hearing aids are less expensive than private offices is due to the fact the brands/models Costco carries have a lower price point and are technologically less advanced than those aids available elsewhere. There are manufacturers who have hearing aid models with the latest, most sophisticated technology (for example, are blue-tooth capable). These manufactures often own what I refer to as “second tier” manufacturers whose aids are somewhat less advanced and are less expensive, and are intended for the more budget-minded consumer. A consumer looking for the most advanced hearing aid available on the market CANNOT get these at Costco. They partner with the second-tier manufacturers, or if they do carry the first tier brands, the models (circuitry) they carry are the entry level rather than the most advanced.
My neighbor just got hearing aids from Costco and he is raving about the aids and his experience. He paid around $2500 for two and yes, they are bluetooth capable. The other impressive thing to him was that he had the most fomprehensive hearing test he has ever had at Costco. This is an educated man in his 60’s with no financial worries.
thanks for the input.
I want to warn people about hear now for you – originally a company formed in Australia and now seeking to work inUSA . Please beware they hold all administration in Serbia , Eastern Europe and the service is shocking , they are linked to a legal office in Australia called HRACS who they use to get legal compensation ( the practice of linking legal and hearing companies is dubious inAustralia) again the work is done in Serbia – all they do in the country where you live is fit hearing aids using the cheapest audiometrist they can find – this is your health and hearing don’t trust it to charlatans
And a side note about laying all prices down for the consumer.
It was already discussed that an Audiologist is going to recommend current technology.
The problem with old technology is that the manufacturer stops making parts and pieces on purpose. If you purchase an older model hearing aid for cheaper, it might be guaranteed for a couple years but it may break and the manufacturer doesnt make the part anymore. This is another reason newer technology is better and will be able to be repaired for a longer lifespan (i.e 6 years from now). We are not going to have prices on old platforms that we dont generally recommend. If its what the patient desires it, we can order it, but there are hundreds of hearing aids-impossible to quote all of them.
Audiologists go with what works the best for patients. If my patients come in with complaints on a certain hearing aid, I will stop using that specific brand or model because its not worth losing time and money. If patients want a cheaper hearing aid with limited features, I will educate them on the differences but I will order one without any problem. I base my recommendations on their lifestyle, and I know a cheaper hearing aid wont help that well in complicated listening situations, like the car, social activities, restaurants. I also know I am limited in my ability to program them and help the patient, because it doesnt give me as many options. Yes hearing aids are expensive, and it stinks! I think people are misinterpreting that expense as hearing aid dealers ripping them off, rather than realizing how much the technology costs. How much do you pay for a computer? Imagine that computer chip being shrunk down to the size of your finger nail…. it sure will be expensive.
Audiologists are happy to fit basic amplification devices too! I have patients that only need TV ears or they only have a couple hundred dollars, and I will help them with assistive listening devices. I think that all hearing health care professionals would be willing to work within a patient’s financial budget, and I have never turned down anyone that needed help and was motivated to hear better.
I would like to directly address the price points pointed out in some of these comments.
When you shop for hearing aids, there are many good brands to go with, and they all have useful features. So whats the big difference in price?
When you shop for a hearing aid, they will all look very similar (behind the ear or in the ear), no matter the brand. What you pay for is the computer chip inside! The consumer is confused because they dont know exactly what chip they are getting. YES Costco is cheaper, but they have technology that is older. An example of this is they are releasing PHONAK products, but the platform (computer chip) is a couple generations older. Phonak does this to satisfy their private practice customers and offer them very good quality devices.
Private practices want to sell premium hearing aids for two reasons, yes there is a good overhead, but they work BETTER! They are more sophisticated than 3 years ago which means a faster processing chip and a cleaner sound-also more patient satisfaction. People are going to be happy with a device that works the best!
Does it mean that Costcos hearing aids are crap? absolutely not! Putting amplification in your ear is going to help regardless of the platform, but you get what you pay for. You may not have as much noise reduction, or limited options with these hearing aids, but if its better for your price point then ok. BUT.. I Know MANY MANY audiologists that if you ask about that old model that Costco is offering (old chip under a new name), they would happily sell for the same amount Costco does. They dont offer it upfront because they know the patient will be more successful with a newer better chip.
In a nutshell, if audiologists sell older models of hearing aids to every patient, there are going to be more adjustments and work down the road because patients are not going to be as satisfied with how they are working than newer better technology. I am sorry if people have a bad experience with audiologists and price points but I think the consumer does not understand the bigger picture in their healthcare and services. Go to your local audiologist and show them the hearing aid you want, advertised for a specific price you want. They will work with your budget if you are honest.
Sammy, mentioning the prices of computers is a bit like shooting yourself in the foot. Computers have only gotten cheaper over the years–you can buy one for a few hundred dollars today that would have costs thousands 10 years ago. Chips are getting smaller and smaller. Tiny phones do everything computers do. Tinier watches do everything phones do. None cost over $1,000. Hearing aid prices should have dropped along with the cost of computer chips.
This is all to change soon. There is a category killer entering the market. The iHear by Adnan Shennib formerly of ReSound who invented the Lyric. Not on the market yet but will be in June. Sells for $199. I hope to report on it for Senior Planet.
You can by a cheap computer for $300, but many prefer to buy a Mac for five times the price. I was skeptical until I actually bought one. It’s so much more superior, in my opinion. Perhaps the same can be said about the cheaper hearings aid you’d get at a big box store versus the higher quality devices you’d get at an audiologist. For those that value quality and professionalism, they’ll pay for it. It’s also a matter of service. There are people that pay ten times more to fly first class or business class ( I only wish I could).
The difference is that with computers you DO have a choice. With hearing aids our choice is merely expensive versus astronomically expensive. I prefer Windows machines myself..
Totally agree Erica.
Douglas, you stated that “For those that value quality and professionalism, they’ll pay for it. It’s also a matter of service” a statement like this is so offensive, because you assumed that millions of people that cannot afford the high cost of hearing aids do not care about quality, professionalism and service. Flying first class is great, but it’s a luxury, an option that a person has to be more comfortable in a trip. Your life is not going to change if you fly first class or third class. Having a Mac versus a windows computer is not going to change your life either, so they are not a good examples.
It is another story with hearing aids. To hear or not to hear is not a luxury, it can be your worst nightmare. It is a medical necessity that can isolate a person, contributing to a number of other serious illness. There is a device ( hearing aids) that can be manufactured for less than $100 that can change the lives of millions. Just imagine a mom, dad or grandparents that will be able to hear and understand what their children are saying?
Some will be able to benefit because they have the resources to purchase such a device even at astronomical markups. Millions of others will not have that blessing and will remain isolated because of greed at it’s worse.
This suffering is unnecessary and as Erica stated that iHear hearing aids are coming to market in June. I personally hope this hearing aid will be the beginning of hope for millions of sufferers and hopefully will mark the beginning of the end of cruel practices by a cruel industry that is driven by profits with little regards for people in need.
I think people like to argue and disagree on these sites rather than be educated. Nobody is disputing hearing aids are expensive, and yes there are a wide range of prices. Im stating you will get what you pay for when you cut corners (ie aids off of the internet).
I think the main thing is the philosophy of cutting out the middle man of the hearing doctor is hurting yourself. Internet companies can not fit your hearing with your audio alone and it be perfect.. research supports a properly fit hearing aid needs verification equipment that professionals will use in programming. I went to college for ten years and its foolish to think hearing aids off the internet are going to work as well as the ones I fine tune. The audiologist is your friend… If your budget is lower or you want a specific product find a professional to help you fine tune it. You should be shopping for the right hearing professional to help you with your hearing healthcare. They will help you find an affordable product and if they dont, find one who cares.
Yovani. You said whether you fly first class or third class wont make a difference and you were comparing this to hearing aids. With this comment it really sounds like you may be confused and bitter. Hearing aids are based on the lifestyle and struggles of the patient.
Ie. If my patient is in a quiet home, a basic cheap hearing aid would work! If you were struggling in noise and needed to hear in a restaurant for your social meeting, your cheapie hearing aids are not going to satisfy you in that situation. You will end up struggling. In that example what you buy does make a difference between first class and third class. A good audiologist would try to match up the features you need (directional mics, noise suppression, mic accesories etc.)in an aid to what your life is like, while trying to keep your price point in mind. Or at least give you realistic expectatiins before yoyu waste $800 on something that wont work for that environment. I dont see ihear concept working for the average consumer. It also wont be equipped to help in noise.
I hope people are getting educated on the process because there seems to be some misplaced bitterness on hearing professionals. Yes hearing devices are expensive for us to buy as well, but the better ones $ work really well and people who buy them consistently wear them and have success! Bottom line.
I didn’t mean to be offensive to anyone. It was an analogy and no analogy fits perfectly across the board. Yovani, your assumption is that millions of people cannot afford the cost of hearing aids. What are you basing that on? I think that is a huge exaggeration. I know here in Illinois for those that are low income, hearing aids are provided at NO COST through Medicaid. I know because I am a Medicaid provider and dispense hearing aids to those insured through Medicaid. If someone is not covered by Medicaid, there are plenty of audiologists, myself included, which will offer a sliding scales. There is a very good quality pair of hearing aids which I dispense for $1800. If someone finances it through our no interest finance program that’s $100 a month for 18 months. That also includes fitting and follow up services. Yes, that’s not cheap, but it’s costs money to run a business and this I’m not just a “middle man” but provide a professional service.
I wish millions of people were seeking hearing aids. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I could lower my prices considerably but I’d still only dispense 20-30 hearing aids per month. Hearing aids are not nor do I think they will ever be the high volume product like eyeglasses. Yovani, I’m not trying to be insensitive. I feel the pain and frustration of those that cannot afford hearing aids. However, I think there are resources out there available for people in those circumstances that will allow them to be fit with hearing aids. I wish I could offer hearing aids at low prices, but I would go out of business and then I wouldn’t be of service to anyone.
Thank you Douglas for your well written response. I can sense that you represent the very best Audilogist/dispenser profession in terms of understanding the frustration of people, it is wonderful that you are also doing something about it by offering options. Thank you for the information.
You are right about examples, they are never perfect, sorry about that. I based the number of millions, by information in the media and web articles I have read, which you can google.
As stated in previous comments, I invited the hearing aid professionals to inform and educate us ( consumers/patients) if they feel the information that is in the media is wrong.
I think that the low income people get great benefits from different sources and Medicaid. It becomes difficult for the low end middle class families that do not make enough to afford the cost of hearing aids but to much to get Medicaid or to qualify for free or low cost hearing aids that are offered by several organizations.
Thanks again and keep up the good work.
Cars are my preferred analogy. I can drive a 2 year old car without the very latest gadget and still be very happy. After all, it was the best of the best just two years ago and everyone was oohing and awing about it then.
What everyone is saying is superior now will soon be inferior 2 years from now. A never ending rat race for the latest gadget and not necessarily a good value.
This sounds super good and hope this happens it’s about time someone made a good product for seniors and others who cannot afford a hearing device!!
Erica, thank you for a great post. I have been eyeing the Resound hearing aids for years now and am looking to pull the trigger on hearing aids this year after waiting 7 years to afford them. They have gone up in price over the years too. You mentioned how you were looking forward to the Resound and I wanted to hear if you had a chance to try them and what your impressions were. Which ones did you get and how much were they? It looks like Resound is now selling them to dispensers and not directly to the user for their Linx2 and ENZO2 the price is not posted online anymore so I wonder if they have gotten even more expensive with their new approach. They had such a great price and approach and it looks like they caved and operating like the rest?
I would like to be able to adjust with smart phone app and use the Bluetooth to eliminate other sounds when talking on the phone. I have never owned a pair of hearing aids and have problems with higher sounds and was considered on the border years ago but I think I am sure it has gotten worse. We could have afforded the Resound years ago but things were tight and no we are not in poverty but still when the car breaks down that is the first priority. Things keep coming up. So I would have never qualified for free hearing aids. I am now making a bit more money and can pay for them. There is a lot of grey out there when it comes to affordability. Gas prices have come down and so many things can change that can make it harder to afford. I still can’t afford to spend money on aids that will not work well for me. I wonder what happened to Resound?
Do you have another best option out there since you wrote the article. I was thinking of going to Costco thinking they may have a better policy on price and return policy if they don’t work out for me. They really seem to want customers to be satisfied and I know they set the mark ups to a certain low % that they sell. So many comments on your post said they sell the old technology and I just wonder if that is true. Love to hear your thoughts. I hope that post didn’t discourage you with all the negative comments. I thought it was a great topic and appreciated finding it online. Thanks
Sammy, Sammy, please read the post I have written. The first class seat example was in response to Mr. Douglas, please read the context. There is no bitterness, no animosity. Confusion with the way hearing aids are sold, yes, yes and by all means yes, and is not because I want to be confused, after all, I have more than 10 years of college, I know how to do research, but in the hearing aid industry where do you go to find information?
In the hearing aids forums, people write to share their frustration because perhaps is the only place they can be heard, just like me, they don’t understand why such secrecy concerning cost and comparison of hearing aids. People are confused how a $350.00 hearing aid becomes up to $8,000 per pair hearing aids.
Yes other medical cost are out of control, but at least insurance pays for most of it, not the case with hearing aids.
In the forums, some dispensers/audiologist become defensive and create a “us versus them” mentality that should not be. What we want, (patients/consumers) is the ability to compare cost for hearing aids.
Please Sammy don’t you feel for Donna that made some comments in this forum? She is suffering and there is no help for her and she is not alone?
All the best intentions in the world and all the education of the best audiologist is not going to get rid of the suffering of people that just can’t afford the astronomical cost of good quality hearing aids.
I personally ask you to walk the extra mile in our shoes. Please, come together as professional audiologist/dispensers and put pressure on the manufacturers to change the way they sell their products. It seems to me this will be beneficial for the consumers and the dispensers and hopefully more people will be able to afford the cost of hearing aids.
The main reason I am even looking at websites right now is because of my dissatisfaction with the last visit at current audiologist. When my current hearing aids extended warranty ended and I couldn’t extend it any longer, they had me come in for a new hearing exam. They asked me questions about my lifestyle and suggested the same hearing aids (new technology) with the addition of Bluetooth for the Apple Nano that I mentioned. Asking how much it cost, they said an extra $1000. I told them I didn’t need it; they said I would be much happier. Within 10 minutes they again suggested getting the Bluetooth; now I told them I could afford it which was true. What they also didn’t know was that my Nano is old enough that it doesn’t have Bluetooth capability. I also felt that some enthusiasm left the room after the second “no”. At the moment they suggested the Bluetooth the second time, I also felt they were up selling me and not being my advocate. And hence the search for another office or source started.
It goes back to follow the money. It works in any industry, profession or motivational answer.
Jim, I’m sorry for your experience. As an Audiologist, I’ll admit it is true that most people won’t extend a warranty on a hearing aid past the 5 year mark. By that time, the hearing aid manufacturers have started to phase out the technology and replacement parts become harder to find. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop wearing it though…but regular cleanings become more important because they ward off major repair issues.
However, if your hearing hasn’t changed and your needs haven’t changed, there’s no real reason to get new tech unless there is something new out there that you really feel is worth investing in.
But if the test shows your loss has changed or your ability to understand speech has changed, it doesn’t hurt to look into it. With state mandated trial periods, it can’t hurt to try if that’s the case.
I will say, though, that the average life span of a hearing aid is 4-6 years. But that is typically because the prescription changes, not because the hearing aid breaks down.
Everything you’ve said so far in your posts rings true. I know this because my wife has spent her entire adult life in deaf education, which includes all levels of hearing impairment. My former audiologist is now a long way from where we live, and I’m looking for a new one. If you practice in the state of Georgia, I would like to become a patient if that’s possible. Don’t know how we’d manage to swap the necessary information with all the privacy restrictions that have to be built into an online site like this, but would like to try if you practice here.
Thank you for that Joe. I’m sorry, but I’m not in Georgia. Often, the easiest way to find someone is by the word of others. Even google reviews can often be very telling.
I can understand why dispensers want to defend the profession they are in. They speak of misinformation and criticize the article as the author’s opinion. Yet they offer no new information to defend their practices. Why don’t they give a specific example? As a hearing aids dispenser of hearing aids ( state the brand) and tell us how much you pay for a pair of x brand ( must give the model and brand) and tell us how much you sell them for and Itemized the package deal, why can you do this? What are you afraid of ?
If all audiologist did this, it would help give credibility to their criticism (if there is misinformation). Until the consumer is given the ability to compare prices they will be in the dark. How can anyone trust an industry that keeps customers in the dark? How can anyone make the right decision to purchase an item in the dark? Would anyone purchase meat and vegetables in total darkness?
I’ll use this as an analogy- audiologist want consumers to trust them blindly based on their claim that they have the knowledge, education and want the best for the consumer. This kind of reasoning Is like buying something in the dark with the only item lighted is a diploma with the sellers credentials. Does this scenario makes any sense for the consumer?
DH, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I interpret your statement “And oh by the way good luck with hi health innovations hearing aids“ that you are saying this with the wish that it doesn’t go well for those that use HHI. That some how you are better than “they are”.
My advise from a consumer to dispensers is that instead of putting the alternative providers down in order to lift yourselves up, you should educate consumers with transparency based on evidence. ( brand name-cost to you- cost to consumer) Until consumers are able to compare cost it would be very difficult to fully trust the hearing aid industry. I like to sleep in the dark, I like to shop with the lights on. :)
Strongly agree with you Yovani. If commenters in this business were upfront regarding prices and HONEST, we, as consumers, could be more educated and able to purchase HA’s with more information. It appears that they all want to keep us in the dark. (Even Walmart Liberty HA’s would have cost us $4000, isn’t that a bit pricey?) It should not be as difficult to make this purchase. If features and prices were laid out we could comparison shop more easily.
No, I am saying that my patients that have used them tell me they are not any good and then buy an affordable hearing aid from me. And by the way I have never known what the grocery store or the butcher has paid for meat I always buy the best I can afford I see my patients for 3 years or longer if they need to and don’t charge them. I cannot say that if I go to the store to buy meat. In my opinion people look at hearing aids as a commodity and not a medical device which they are a part of . The device is on,y part of the program the rest I think is the relationship the expertise in fitting the hearing aid. I also tell me patients to bring me the kind of hearing aid they were quoted and we can compare them You sound misinformed and angry or you were wronged at one time or another. I also don’t look at my patients as consumers I look at them as patients and we need to solve a problem toghether
Thank you Joanzee, I agree with you.
As for DH, I rest my case, your answers as a dispenser only gives more evidence to what I said earlier.
Sorry Yovani, I am not just a dispenser but an audiologist with 38 years of experience. And I pride myself on taking care of and helping my patients till the end And I would hope that someday you will have more of an open mind!
DH, please do not take the comments made or the article as a personal attack against you or every audiologist. Everyone would agree that not all Audiologist’s are out to make big profits. Seeking and obtaining information is what this dialog is all about. The title of the article “ what I learned from browsing hearing aids forums” speaks for most of the people who has made comments.
As consumers/patients with the help of mass media information, we have learned things about the hearing aid industry that we didn’t know before. The purpose of this discussion is to seek the truth.
A simple Google search concerning the cost of hearing aids will produce hundreds of articles not favorable to the hearing aid industry practices. If this information is all wrong and Audiologist/dispensers information is the one that is true, then make a case for the hearing aid industry practices. I have no doubt you are an honest hard working audiologist and you are only one person in a global multi-billion dollar industry, but with your many years of experience, you can educate and provide the information that the consumer/patient need.
Please understand that there are millions, yes millions of people that need hearing aids, having them would change their lives, but because of cost they and their families must suffer. I think I speak for many when I said to the hearing aids industry that we want transparency in the way they distribute their medical devices and to give patients the ability to compare cost. Audiologist do not necessarily need to reveal what they pay for their hearing aids, but they can advertise in their website the model numbers and cost of hearing aids, just like Costco, is there for all to see. So the consumer/patient can compare apples with apples.
I don’t appreciate going around telling audiologist that I have a quote for a hearing aid to see if they can lower their price, I rather see them list their prices, whatever they are (again, with brand & model number and cost) it would help the consumer make the decision if you list the services you provide, that I think is great that you are able to do that.
One more thing, I may be a patient, but I’m also a consumer and I don’t think that asking an industry to give me the ability to decide whether or not I’m paying a fair price for a medical device is “ been an angry person, or not having an open mind” as you describe me. All we want is transparency and the ability to compare cost and most important to millions of us, is, we don’t want free devices, we would like to be able to purchase a quality medical device for a fair price that we can afford. Thank you DH for 38 years of service and counting and I’m looking forward to hearing from you and other audiologist in how the hearing industry conduct their services.
Thanks yovani I couldn’t have said that any better. I’ve had a lot of troubles with my ears and my hearing for as long as I can remember. A few months ago I had a horrible ear infection. I was told I had a hole in my ear drum. I took antibiotic for quite som time. The hole repaired itself. Then I went in for a hearing test. They told me I needed hearing aides. I said ok tell me something I don’t know. My left ear is seveare hearing loss and my right is moderate loss. Now I’m on disability and my husband works. Medicare pays nothing and neither does my husbands insurrance. So now what am I supposed to do. Give me a better option than divorcing my husband so I could qualify for mediacad. Feeling awful and not knowing what to do
Thank you Donna. It breaks my heart to hear your story and the many others that are suffering because they cannot afford the high cost of hearing aids. Your story places a human touch to a system that is supposed to be about helping people but instead it is mainly driven by profits.
There is some hope in the horizon thanks to articles like this one and others that are exposing the unfair practices of the hearing aids industry.
Don’t give up hope Donna. Check out Erica’s information concerning ihear hearing aids that are coming to market in June, perhaps they can be the answer for you and many others. I’m hoping that someone with the vision and resources can come up with a way to offer affordable programmable quality hearing aids to the millions that need them.
Contact the Hear Now program with the Starkey Foundation if you make less than 25k a year in a 2 person household they will give you top of the line hearing aids for $250. I am a provider than works through this foundation and no strings attached and the pracitioner in your area that does it has to donate time they cannot make a dime from it. It is something I do a lot for people in need. It is truly a program built for people like you.
Ok now comes the STARK reality, I cannot afford the hearing aids I really need (Profound loss in left Ear, moderate loss in Right Ear and Tinnitus), not because I am on a fixed income (I work for a major company and take down over $90k a year) but because I cannot fit the cost into my budget it is as simple as that, hearing aids or no Food/Gas/Car Payment/House Payment/Electric,Gas, Water/Home Repairs/$2500 dental work I just had and on and on. What do I do without to get the hearing aids I need??? Not make my house payment? Charging $2-3,000 per ear retail is just not affordable nor is Sam’s Club $999 an ear so I go without and it impacts my personal and professional life, I can only use the cell phone in my right ear and I am right handed so how do I take notes when in a teleconference? I have trouble understanding people I work with, etc. It is so frustrating that the medical device I need is so EXPENSIVE. There has to be a solution. My insurance (Blue Cross) says they will cover 80% of their cost number for hearing aids. So if the aid costs $900, my blue cross adjusts that to say $400 (their perceived REAL cost or some other VOODOO number) or less and pay 80% of that! Not much of a discount over what I have to pay out of pocket!
Yovani, came across this forum by accident and find your comments as a matter of factly “ridiculous ” you challenge providers to disclose “cost”. What was the cost of any medical treatment or device you utilized in the last 5 years? You mean you can’t tell me the cost of the dental work you had done? Oh, what was the cost of the last car you purchased? How bout telling me the “cost ” of anything you’ve ever purchased in your life. I already know the answer , you don’t know. Why do you think this industry would be any different ? If you don’t understand the concept of the three things that NEVER can be combined in any product or service.(1) Quality, (2)service , (3) price. You can’t be a low price leader and provide service and quality. Period! A business may provide Quality and Service, but not the lowest price. This applies to all businesses and services. This is the reality of hearing aids weather you agree with it or not. First off , your evaluation needs to be performed by a professional. Should it be a hearing loss that is helpable through frequency specific amplification , a professional should provide the fitting. The services of a professional are invaluable when working to improve that particular persons loss. There are no two hearing losses alike. Consequently, the practitioners expertise and experience have a major role in obtaining satisfactory results. The practitioner is also responsible for providing the appropriate circuitry and software for that individuals lifestyle needs and hearing loss. Most offices provide lifetime services at no charge. Including future audio updates , cleaning and maintenance, tuning and adjustments. Don’t think you’ll need those types of services , better rethink things. These people are hearing provider professionals , not sales people. They provide a lifetime of services that include counseling and work to rehabilitate the patients hearing . Oh, and by the way , hearing loss only continues to go downhill regardless if you are fit with aids. Constant attention to the patients needs and loss will forever need to be addressed . Only a professional can provide these services. So , what is the “cost” of hearing aids ? Start factoring in what is provided in neede services by the practitioner along with the “cost” of the aids the practice costs such as equipment , leasehold , utilities , schooling and standard business costs . I’d say hearing aids are the steal of the century . By the way when was the last time Bill gates personally cleaned your computer and offered you free lifetime adjustments and services. You will get , what you pay for in this arena. Period ! If you have any thoughts differently, you are just plain old wrong ! Practitioners don’t sell listening devices , they provide better hearing to their patients. how do I know? I’ve spent the last ten years taking my mom to her practitioner several times a year. Without her hearing aids she would suffer immensely . Is her hearing perfect? No. The benefit she receives is invaluable . In my opinion they don’t charge enough.. So , expect to pay an average of $5,000 on a set of decent aids.
So you want an audiologist or dispenser to disclose their cost of goods so you can then get the regular cost to see what the average markup is? Do you go to your grocery store and ask what their cost of pasta is and then compare what they charge you? Do you ask the hospital how much they pay for gauze and then compare that to how much they charge you? How about when buying a car? In fact, do you ask these questions in ANY industry?
Find someone you can trust. If you can do that, they will be open about what type of hearing aid they are recommending, and why it costs what it does.
Buying from an online service usually has other hidden costs. For example, someone mentioned United HealthCare’s HI Health innovations. The aids are a little cheaper when comparing apples to apples….but…..you have to pay $100 for a test (usually paid in full by regular insurance, you have to pay $50 for adjustments (usually free at a professional), you have to pay $25 for cleanings (usually free), and there is very limited repair/replacement warranties. So if the aid stops working for moisture damage (the number 1 reason for repairs), you’re not covered and have to just buy new ones again.
You can’t just compare one number. The average lifespan of a hearing aid is about six years. You may save 1000 now, but in the long run, you may end up paying a lot more.
Even the cheapest aid in the world is too much if you can’t even wear it.
Mike, I would talk to an audiologist who is contracted with BCBS. I have seen plans where they pay 80% up to a certain number, but I’ve never seen it where BCBS assigns a value to their cost of the aids, because in reality, they have no cost. Some plans have a maximum charge that we can use. A provider who works with the insurance would probably be the best to give you some real definitive info on that as the insurance company rarely can give you the details you need unless you know exactly which questions to ask. If you truely have that benefit, it is usually possible to do the rest as a payment plan. You used the example of your leftover expense is 500. If you did that on a 36 month payment plan, you’d end up paying about 20 bucks a month. We’ve even done in-house payment plans if they cannot get approved for a loan. I have had a patient who paid us 10 dollars a month until his aid was paid off. Even on a low income, that’s usually a possibility.
As audiologists, if we talk to each other about what we’re charging for a product, we can be accused of price fixing and lose our licenses. So we don’t talk to each other about it, and it makes us a little hesitant to talk to anyone outside of our office about it.
Yes, we could put our prices for specific models on our websites… and immediately have every hearing aid dealer in town make sure their price was a little or a lot lower. Then patients looking at price instead of lifetime service included in that price would go to someone else and often get stuck with awful follow-up care. I’ve seen it happen with price wars in the newspaper ads!
(Yes, I will tell people what a specific model costs if they ask, even over the phone, but I can’t tell them over the phone if that model would work well for them!)
You aren’t just buying the technology; you’re purchasing the fitting, the follow-ups, the periodic cleanings, the future adjustments for changes in hearing, the digging out the battery you jammed in your aid upside down, and the reminding your spouse or child again and again and AGAIN that he/she can’t talk to you from the other room when you’re watching TV and expect you to understand what they’re saying unless they’re wearing a Bluetooth microphone so they need to come into the same room and LOOK AT YOU if they want you to hear them clearly. It’s all this and more.
Yes, some people with minor changes in their ability to understand speech can get by very well with any hearing aid, even an inexpensive mail order or internet one. I give those people a copy of their hearing test if they want to purchase aids somewhere else, or I sell them hearing aids if they choose to buy from me, and I often only see them back in my office maybe once a year when they want more spare parts for keeping their aids clean. People with less complicated hearing needs like that can choose to “cut out the middle-man” and get by pretty well if they’d like, or they can see someone who they trust when they have a problem instead of having to mail in a broken hearing aid and wait over a month for service or have to buy a new device. Their choice.
Other people have major difficulties and need lots of in-person practice just to learn to put the aid in their ear and change the battery. An internet instructional video isn’t enough for them. And rather than charging them $75-125 per visit like a physician or per hour like a mechanic/plumber/lawyer/counselor, all this is included in the purchase price of the hearing aid in most offices, including mine.
Costco has hearing aids. Costco has both audiologists and hearing aid dispensers. Aids cost less there because Costco negotiates their hearing aid prices from the manufacturers NATIONALLY IN BULK and gets them for a third the price I do, so they can sell them for a third to half the price I do. Commission has nothing to do with their prices or mine: cost of doing business does, and Costco can stay open with less $ markup on their aids because they sell so many other things plus they have your annual membership fee. Also, Costco won’t make custom-built in the ear hearing aids, only standard behind the ear hearing aids. Also, Costco usually won’t help you when your hearing aid is 4 years old and needs a repair; they sell you a new hearing aid. I do custom hearing aids, and I repair aids that are many more than 4 years old if they are still meeting your hearing needs when they are functioning. Heck, I will also repair and adjust Costco hearing aids or mystery-brand hearing aids you bought from a dealer who closed down even though you didn’t buy them from me. You’ll pay for the service, but you’ll GET service.
That’s what I do: I make a living helping people hear what’s important to them. Most of my day is spent testing hearing and balance on physician referrals, not selling or servicing hearing aids, but each audiology practice is a little different. And just like an accountant, or a lawyer, or a psychologist, or any other professional who has advanced training in doing something you might need done, I get paid to provide a service.
I want to tell you I am an audiologist and I do not get a cut. You are misinformed. The reason Costco is so much less is because the manufactures charge them a lot less for the product so therefore they can sell them for less. I am an audiologist who make sure the patient is happy and I stay with them till it is good for them . So I suggest you do more homework before writing an article about the cost of hearing aids. Because from me, reading it, it sounds more like your opinion . And oh by the way good luck with hi health innovations hearing aids.
DOES ANYONE KNOWS HOW TO UNSUBSCIBE TO THIS?? hELP! gET ME OUT OF THIS THREAD! tHERE’S NO REPLY FROM THIS SITE CONCERNING THIS.
Hi Gerrit, we’re happy to manually unsubscribe you.
It would be great if when I received a notice of a new comment, that when I select the link to go to the site, it would page down to the new comment so I don’t have to search pages and pages of old comments. It makes me give up also. That or give people the option to sort by the newest first. Thanks for listening.
Hi Mike, we’re aware of this frustrating glitch and are working on an upgrade to our commenting system – it’ll be ready in a few weeks.
Unfortunately there is a lot of information, and disinformation in the hearing aid business. Most of the hearing aids fit and sold in the country are done so by hearing instrument specialists, not audiologist, and while Costco might not pay the HIS a commission, working for most companies they do indeed make a commission.
As a hearing specialist for the last five years I have had the privilege of working with one of the most well known providers, and one of the least expensive as well. I will not name the names because I do not believe it warranted, but my experience with the “value brand” was only an 80 percent satisfaction rate, whereas my satisfaction rate with a top tier hearing aid company has been 98 or better. At first I thought that was based on the abilities and competencies of the specialist, but after working with three different companies, I can truly say the technology DOES matter. I would challenge all those who are looking into HA’s to compare the technology not just by reviews, but by personal experience, your relationship with a specialist in an office (or a big box warehouse) is important.
I was first sent to a specialist for hearing aids from my ENT in Cape Coral and the specialist fitted me with 8000.00 Oticons and half fitted me and didn’t fully adjust them and told me to come back in 2 weeks so me and my husband decided to shop around. After shopping we ended up in Costco in Fort Myers were we met the Specialist Andrew. Who was very informative about his Kirkland brand aids made by resound , can I tell you for 2500 with the Bluetooth was a great deal for my 1st pair of hearing aids , until recently a friend purchased Siemens Pure micons from a specialist Named Tommy in the Port Charlotte town center mall who explained the difference and why those were more expensive. Being that I was not new to hearing aids and been a daily wearer for 2 yrs I decided to try the Siemens Pure micons all the background noise eliminated and relief took over . So I decided to purchase on the spot. I will mention when your first fitted you need someone that takes the time to program right and follows up every week for a month then 2 months as your hearing is getting used to the new aids so if I would have know all this I wouldn’t have needed to spend a few thousand over again. Point of my story is you get what you pay for. So don’t be fooled by those big box stores. susan
That forum is a pain in the rear to navigate!!!
Yes, the hearing aid forum is very difficult to navigate. I hope we’ll have a hearing aid forum on Senior Planet someday soon.
I have a pair of the audicus aids /hansaton and they work ok not great . the 1 week lag time without hearing aids is annoying if you have to send back for repairs. I have had issues with the aids not being recalibrated correctly and this last time was the straw that broke the camels back . The right aid was scratching my battery every time i closed the door was told that thats the way they are and nothing can be done about it also the remote was not set to work with the aids after the repairs were done. frustrating at best. I also think there is a lack of communication on their end.
Your experience is why I always recommend patients see a professional Hearing Aid Specialist or Hearing Instrument Specialist for proper consultation, testing, fitting, and follow-up care. Costco works on VOLUME of sales, and thus cannot afford to spend the necessary time with the end-user.
I disagree. Manager treated my husband very professionally, using all the time necessary. 90 day warranty and can be services anywhere a Costco Hearing Office is located in USA.
An important factor seldom seldom mentioned here is the HA manufacturer. This is most important for quality aids. The Rexton Quintra is owned by Siemens (Germany), a well respected, long standing company making a quality product at half the price of a Beltone First HA. If a client (patient) can receive quality hearing evaluation and service along with a less expensive quality HA, what is there not to love? Costco provides the location for the service, nothing else. Also, the Hearing Aid Specialists are not paid on commission.
Like the hearing aid forum
I buy my groceries at Costco, not my hearing aids. I want a trained professional in my city who SPECIALIZES in hearing aids and hearing aid satisfaction.
No thanks to Costco and shame on them for trying to put small businesses out of business.
Agreed! Do you go to a warehouse for your healthcare? If that doesn’t bother you, then go to Costco.
Audiologists are doctoral level providers who do more than just take your money for a hearing aid. Also, many audiology private practices are unbundling their pricing. You shouldn’t abandon quality healthcare… ever.
Costco happens to have high quality hearing aids at a fraction of the cost. Most people can’t afford to pay $7,000 for a pair of devices that aren’t covered by insurance.
I see it different , it well documented that hearing aid companies have a monopoly on the cost of hearing aids. In some forums, some audiologist claimed that they pay wholesale prices that are higher than what Costco sell retail, If this is true , audiologist are at a disadvantage. What Costco and other creative companies have done is to open the door that hopefully will end the unfair way hearing aids companies keep their prices inflated.
By what I have read from hundreds of Costco hearing aids users at various forums, customers feel fine going to Costco, but will go some place else if the service is good and the cost is lower.
Did you know there are millions of people on fixed income in need of hearing aids? For this group and others who may not have the 2-7 thousands of dollars to spend, their choices for quality hearing aids at a cost they can afford is almost non-existent unless they go with the over the counter hearing devices.
Costco have trained audiologist on staff, some may be better than others, but this is the same for every business. A person can go to an ear and throat specialist who’s services is paid by Insurance, they can get their ears check to make sure there is nothing that may require medical treatment ,then go to Costco and the technicians there will adjust their aids just fine, and you can go back if you are not satisfied.
I suggest that audiologist that want to operate their business “outside the box“, should advertise their services, list the brand and the cost and list the cost of their other services that way people can compare apples to apples.
Almost everyone in the net or local Audiologist that I have researched do not list their prices. The way I see it (as a customer) if a business ( any) is afraid to list the cost of their product, then I can’t afford it. In a perfect world, if everyone had the resources, I’m sure they would go to the finest of Doctors of Audiology. In the real world people go to Costco.
They can’t list their prices because there are over 1000 different hearing aids to choose from and no one can tell you what is right for you until you see them. It’s the same with a lot of professions. You can’t ask you doctor how much a prescription costs until he evaluates you and decides what the right prescription is.
There are 2 reasons I don’t put my hearing aid prices on my website:
1. Keeping it updated as new models come out or the manufacturers give me a promotional price so I can lower my patient’s price is a pain because I’m not the webmaster and
2. Local competition would just make sure their website advertised a lower price.
I already have to deal with unscrupulous bait-and-switch hearing aid dealers. I don’t like giving them more ammunition to show that my aids cost a little more without them addressing the stark differences in quality of service.
Reputable audiology practices typically don’t list prices because we know that hearing aids are not just a commodity like a TV where price is the only thing that matters. We want to sit down with the person and their family and educate them about the differences in technology and also work with them to determine what will be the best fit for them based on hearing loss, lifestyle, budget etc. I help people make an informed decision based on years of experience and knowing what will or will not work well for that individual; there’s a lot more to it than people think. When people base their decision solely on price and not rooted in facts, they often end up disappointed and buying something else later on, therefore, the savings were really money wasted. We see a lot of Costco patients in our office that come in looking for a better alternative; they mainly capture first time users who don’t know any better and have no reference for what a better aid can actually do/sound like. I welcome showing them the difference and know that the knowledge & expertise behind my advanced degree means something.
Concerning the comments of Costco offering medical services like is something bad. CVS pharmacy and other businesses are getting into the profitable health care business and are now providing limited but good quality services that helps people that can’t afford regular hospital and doctor cost. When a doctor or a group of doctors open a clinic or office practice, they run it as a business; they may run it themselves or hire outside doctors just like hospitals do.
Costco is brilliant in cutting cost and saving money for consumers. Would you pay a hospital hundreds of dollars for one aspirin or one bandage or pay a few cents at Costco for the same product? If Costco open a medical practice I would not hesitate to go there, I trust they would hire good health care workers. All health care cost is out of control and if Costco or an other company can help control the cost without compromising safety, I’m all for it.
Agreed. Here’s a good article on Forbes from today that outlines a different option for people with hearing loss who simply can’t afford hearing aids at a clinic or who choose not to shell out the money for technology they can get for lower prices elsewhere. Keep in mind this still requires them to visit a doctor or audiologist for a hearing test.
Thanks for the follow up article. Mr Patrick Freuler has saved consumers 12 million dollars, fantastic. It seems to me that the company can grow faster if they are able to sign up with local audilogist that would work on a per visit fee that way customers would get the best of both worlds. Audiologist can double or triple their foot traffic and perhaps gain future customers.
Thank you Erica for an excellent article that continues to draw readers to this most important medical, consumer and human rights issue.
I honestly would not recommend purchasing from Audicus. They will not respond to my simple request for a written confirmation of receipt of my returned Dia IIs and what to expect in the return process. They were more than willing to talk to me about a potential sale, but I can get NO RESPONSE about the 45-day satisfaction return process. Next step is filing a charge-back on my CC. I would recommend a local Audiologist.
Thank you again Yovani for elucidating this issue. Hearing aid technology is changing rapidly and audiologists are going to have to become competitive or go out of business. It an only be a good thing when a medical device that is so crucial to people’s well being becomes more affordable.
Of course we would all buy a Lexus if we could afford one, but I own a used Ford Focus and it gets me from here to there.
And shame on small businesses to charge their usual exorbitant amount of costs with very few brands to choose from, through their slick and tacky advertising methods. Costco has excellent staff, well-trained and is able to at least please SOME of the more and more overwhelming amount of aging people.
Thank you from an audiologist for 37 years
You can always get examined by an audiologist and take your test result (?) to Costco. And I’d like to see small business people put out of business if they are participating in a rip-off of consumers by selling at phenomenal inflated prices.
Severe loss, particular high frequency, bilateral aids for 20 years, not very effective.
just loss my two expensive ($2500 each) aids.
Curious about cochlear hybrid systems I read about on this webpage. I wonder if anyone has experience with such a system?
Appreciate any info. thanks
I have tried all resources to use the AARP supplemental insurance provided by United Healthcare and subsidiary HiInnovations for hearing aids to no avail. Please explain how you were able to do so.
Thanks for your articles
I found the info about United Healthcare covering hearing aids on the Hearing Aid Forums. Suggest you follow the link I posted and search there. If you can’t find anything, post a query there.
Mail order hearing aids are illegal in many states.
We also have had AARP Healthcare Options with United Health Care since 2003. I called today to inquire regarding coverage for hearing aids under this plan. Reply was as usual, Medicare had to approve and then they would cover remaining 20%. I have personal knowledge that this supplement covers other items (80%) even if Medicare has denied the claim. I want to believe in your statement with HI Health Innovations but do not know how else to go about it. Please assist if possible.
I have pursued further the HI Health Innovations comment regarding insurance coverage for members covered by AARP United Healthcare. I have been told we are not covered and aids would be priced at the normal price for us. Apparently only certain United Health plans cover this. We have regular Medicare accompanied by AARP Healthcare Options with United Health. No coverage for HA’s under this plan. I will not do business with this company as I did not receive a reply after completing fax as requested and told I would receive response. Not a good company to work with, at least for us. We will purchase from another source.
Let’s see, a 3 ounce, mid priced hearing aid comes in at about $10,000/pound
Important post! Everyone please be careful where you chose to buy your hearing aids! Do not be fooled by big box stores or these luring advertisements in the paper.
Working in the audiology field I see and talk to people every day who are being taken advantage of. You might think you are saving money, but time and time again I see that people are not!
Today an elderly gentleman came into our clinic who had 5 year old aids from a “big box store”. His left aid quit working. He went back to the store so they could repair it but they told him “the model was discontinued and they could no longer service it”. Really? I looked at the aid (not even a manufacturer we work with) and all it needed was a simple cleaning. It took 3 minutes of my time. When I brought the aid back working, the elderly man could not believe it. He was so relieved. He had been struggling for months unable to hear not to mention sleepless nights as to how he would ever be able to afford a new pair of aids.
Some people may end up getting “adequate” hearing by getting their aids at these places, but keep in mind you are sacrificing service and attention to detail and the credentials of the audiologist.
I sat and talked with this elderly man for a brief few minutes before he left our clinic with his newly cleaned working aid. We talked about how just sickening it is that there are well reputable stores that will put the dollar before giving good medical care.
Hi! My mother has in Left Ear “Mixed hearing loss” & in Right Ear “Moderate Steep Sloping Seajorineural hearing loss” as per hear report. She has been using Widex Menu 9 & Menu 19 for her ears. Now she lost her hearing aid of Right ear.
The audiologist has advised her to buy RIC of either Widex Dreams 110 (3 channel) OR Sonic Flip 60. She has been advised 100 dB receiver for left and 80 dB for right. He said while Widex Dreams 110 has 3 channels, Sonic has Speech variable processing i.e. full channel.
I tried to get second opinion from another audiologist and she advised to go for Starkey, which she said is the best. She said don’t go for Siemens (as their digital aids are not so advanced). She said don’t go for Sonic, comparatively Widex better but loosing ground due to servicing issues as their experienced team has changed…
I asked first audiologist again, he said Starkey is good but battery lasts 3 days, so go for Sonic Flip 60 RIC.
It seems that the audiologists are advising to buy the make which they are selling. I find myself totally confused and scared to buy any product with the fear that i may go wrong.
My mother is about 63 years, not very active, she wants to be able to understand group conversation (which she cant presently understand in Widex menu series BTE, model ME-9 & ME-19). Further she likes to watch TV and talk on mobile phone and landline phone.
I would be grateful if you could advise which make & model of hearing aid is of better quality & will be suitable for her.
There are six major hearing manufacturers; Phonak, Oticon (with owns Sonic), Siemens, GN Resound, Starkey, and Widex; they make up 98% of all the hearing aids sold. Each of the above manufacturers has all the different styles, BTE (behind-the-ear), ITE (in-the-ear), RIC (receiver-in-the canal), etc. Also each manufacturer has different levels of technology ranging from basic or entry-level to advanced or premium. Most audiologists choose to dispense hearing aids from one or two manufacturers because it’s very difficulty to stay proficient with the software and products for all six manufacturers.
There is not one manufacturer that is objectively better than another. The difference is mainly based on the digital processing strategies they incorporate to amplify sound. My best advise is to choose an audiologist who you feel is knowledgeable and honest who can guide you in the decision making process. The choice of product will mainly be based on the different listening situations your mother has difficulty hearing and her budget. Good luck.
Thanks a lot for your valued reply.
We have bought Siemens Product for mother. It is “Orion RIC BG”.
When we were taking a trial before purchase, it gave very clear sound to mother. However, after we got the ordered product, it doesn’t sound so clear.
Various adjustments have been made by the dealer, but mother keeps saying that her earlier Widex product gave clearer sound…
I dont know what needs to be done now… I would be grateful for your advise…
Again, please ask this question on the hearing aid forums. The link is in my article. You’ll get some help there.
Hi R. Saraf,
First, see if the hearing aid is still under the trial period. Trial periods are usually 30 days as mandated by State law (State dependent), but often times offices have longer trial periods of up to 45-90 days. So I’d first check if it’s an option to return and go back to the Widex.
Secondly, if it’s not returnable, the hearing aid can be adjusted or fine tuned by hooking up the aids to the computer. It may be that your mother is becoming acclimated to amplification and needs an additional boost now.
P.S. I hope you took my advise and went to an audiologist. You used the word “dealer” in your post.
Hi there. As Doug Steinberg below me mentioned, there really are the “big 6” hearing aid manufacturers that have oligopoly on the market, and the differences between them are, in actuality, pretty minimal. The differences will exist in the sound-processing technologies, and not in the actual *quality* of these technologies– apples and oranges, I guess (maybe Apple and Samsung is a better, more technologically-based example…). Either way, the hearing aid industry is not one in which a lot of inherent competition is at play: these big 6 have established themselves, and continue to exist in the marketplace specifically because audiologists latch onto one or two brands and continue to promote them (and make money off of them– remember, too, that there are huge markups on hearing aids, and that some brands will allow for more profit)!
That being said, audiology can be a pretty lucrative field… I’m a first-year audiology student right now and I am somewhat conflicted as places like Audicus (www.audicus.com) and another one that started with an R that I can’t remember– someone mentioned them below– have come onto the scene. They are e-commerce (only provided over the internet), and as an Aud student, I just HAD to check them out. How could they possibly be providing these over the internet for $1400 a pair with no support?
Well, here is my conflict: I gave my dad a hearing test (essentially just practice for me, and turns out he has moderate loss– lucky we checked!), and had him get on the phone with Audicus’ reps. They knew *everything*… everything about the big 6, how their hearing aids compared to others on the market (I threw out names like the Oticon Delta 4, the Starkey 3 series… etc. They knew)… they even explained to me/ my father (of course I was standing by listening on speaker phone) that they could provide support over email and phone and that my dad could ship it back to them for readjustments as many times as he wanted for as long as he had the hearing aid. I forget what their warranty was on water damage, or stepping on it, or silly things like that. Anyway, of course I urged my dad to order them. He got a model called the Canto for about $1400 I think and they’re nearly identical to the models mentioned above, AND to the Widex dream 440 and Sonic Flip models. Now, as an Audiology student preparing myself to test, fit for, and sell these devices as a career, I am enervated at the thought of internet hearing aids taking over– it seems somewhat probably, and I have no idea what this could mean for my career…
Anyway, I thought I would put it out there since I saw someone else mention it below. If your mom is looking to save money (then again, who isn’t?), I would seriously look into Audicus. I am disheartened to say it– from my perspective, not from the perspective of the millions of Americans for whom it could save $$– but they really do seem legit. Oh, and my dad still has the hearing aid (he’s on his second month) and is satisfied. I couldn’t even convince him to get one before this little experiment…
Best of luck!
Jenna, thank you for your honesty and integrety. As you said “Audiology can be a pretty lucrative field”; but at what cost to consumers? As you already know, the manufacturing, distribution and the dispensing model is so unethical and keeps millions of people from getting the hearing aids they desperately need because the cost is so high.
It seems to me you have a place in Audilogy if you can find a way to lower the cost of your services and still make a decent living.
I tell you, if you serve the people well and offer professional low cost services, you will have more customers than you can handle.
Do lots of research on ways you can purchase quality hearing aids at the lowest possible cost. Offer alternatives, cost for hearing aids only with three adjustments, and sell packages, like six visits for certain cost, or cost per visit and hearing aids with a service package.
I guarantee you will be suscessful. Many of the big companies that rule today ( except hearing aids) offer quality, customer service, and low cost.
Also offer to adjust hearing aids regardless of where they were purchase for a reasonable fee and that will keep you busy and you will help a lot of people. I hope you get your degree and license, you will make a great Audiologist. : )
I have a few questions for you
1. How much do you think is reasonable to spend for a pair of hearing aids?
2. How much is reasonable to spend for a 60 minute visit including hearing aid programming?
3. How much is reasonable for a hearing aid clean and check?
4. If an audiologist buys a hearing aid from the manufacturer for $350, what would be a fair selling price?
I’m really curious to hear your response to these questions.
2. $250 max, with really good professional.
3. $0. Cost of doing business and customer service.
4. $1000 max, but he is getting ripped off if he pays $300 for a digital hearing aid.
Digital technology means a program on a microprocessor, with A/D on one side and D/A on the other. Filters are just arrays of values
multiplied by the results of an FFT. This is very old technology and not marvelous to someone in the trade of signal processing.
Other things such as noise cancellation and compression are simply sampled factors which are multiplied, added or subtracted from the signal.
1. $800- $1,000 for the pair of High quality H.A. with 1-2 fittings.
2. $125-$150 range; this is the cost of one one hour with a PHD psycholgist in my area. $75-85 for dispenser with less than B.A. degree.
3. $35-$50 per aid. Less or free at dispenser discretion. ( it can be a tool to bring in new and repreat customers)
5. A mark up of 40% would be fair.
I once paid $200.00 for a three visit package for hearing aids purchased in another State, I though that was fair.She had an Aud.D
I understand that they way things are now, it is not easy for dispensers. I have several degrees and worked in the non-profit sector and I knew that If I though about all the education that I have versus what I made, it would drive me crazy. I wanted to help people and that I have done. I have several friends that have PHD’s and do not make huge income and they are at peace with the field they choosen.
The way technology is at today, the Aud. D. may be in the category of degrees that are not going to earn the recipent a lot of money, is just a fact of life. From what I have heard from some Audilogist, they love what they do and want to help people and this is a great way to look at it.
There is nothing wrong with earning a decent living doing what you love, but there is no excuse to take advantage of people who have a medical need. Please, I’m not saying all Audiologist do this, most of the fault is with the big six companies and some audilogist play a role too in keeping people in silence because they cannot afford the cost of hearing aids.
Jenna B (future audiologist).
Don’t be so depressed! On line sales are less expensive, but hearing aids need a lot of attention over their useful life to perform properly.Most people will soon be tired of constantly having to send their aids somewhere to be serviced.
In the business it’s going to take lots of venues: On line, Big Box, Dr’s offices, independent dealers (either dispensers or audiologists), insurance “Co’s, over the counter assistive devices, etc. All of this will benefit the consumer by continually driving down the prices.
You know what people are not understanding,
I own a few hearing clinics and the cheapest hearing aid I can buy from my well known manufacturer is $375 and that doesn’t include anything or any telephone program, they don’t work together… they are crap hearing aids.
I buy my high end hearing aids for $2750 and this is PER hearing aid.
When you go to a hearing aid manufacturer and get a price tag of $6,000 for a pair, maybe think that we aren’t getting as much as you think.
I personally sell the $375 hearing aids for $675 and the $2750 for $2950. This is with a free hearing test and programming included. THis also comes with a 3 year free cleaning, reprogramming etc..
I don’t think i could even sell the high end for $1500 because I would be loosing so much money and wouldn’t be making a profit but looseing $1450 a hearing aid, almost $3000- each time.
I am a Hearing Instrument Specialist and I really find not much different in Audiologist and myself. We did go to different Universities but working along side Aud’s for so many years, we do the same job.
Secret, thank you for the information. Since you own several clinics you must be doing good, congratulations. You said you make $600 on the pair of the lower end aids and $400 on the high end. Can you give us an example of a unit of let’s say $500 your cost, their quality and why not reverse the process, charge less for the lower end and higher in the high end aids. The logic is that if someone can afford seven to eight thousand dollars another couple hundred dollars is not going to make a big difference. Explain, please?
The whole Provider & Dispenser thing comes in to play in my state Tennessee, Optometrists cannot “dispense” glasses only provide the exam. This allows the consumer to shop around for the best deal on glasses. BUT not so for Hearing Aids, the Audiologist can DISPENSE! This makes no sense to me, why can’t it work like Glasses? Exam only NO Dispensing that way I can shop around and get the best deal…and NO I will not order glasses off the internet or Hearing Aids….They have to be fitted in both cases….
I can answer that. Low end hearing aids require a lot more work than high end aids. High end aids process sound quicker, the sound quality is better, and there are fewer adjustsments, and patients are overall happier. So the markup percentage is lower. Low end aids have a higher markup because it has to offset the price of all the extra hours of work a professional has to put into them.
There are many different hearing aid companies selling similar products with different computer programs for each company. Rather than learning (and buying) programs from 15 or so different manufacturers, most Audiologists select a couple of manufacturers that offer them excellent customer service and good return time on repairs. Starkey, Seimens and Widex have excellent and very similar products and all of them will work well. Choose the AUDIOLOGIST who gives the best service, best price or is more conveniently located. Also, hearing aids come in different tiers– “basic: or “value” aids, midline, or “premium”. If you are comparing prices, make sure you are comparing aids from the same tiers– not comparing a “value” aid to a “premium”, and thinking you are getting a great deal when you are not.
Some audiologists have ‘agreements’ or in some cases are owned by manufacturers. You should chose an audiologist who has the freedom to sell from any of the larger manufacturers. It’s a fair question as you are looking for the right aud to have an ongoing relationship with.
I would like to make a few comments about IHear product as well as the HealthInnovations hearing aid dispensing model, discussed here.
The IHear website talks about an at home hearing test. I STRONGLY advise those with hearing loss to NOT utilize such a test. NO ONE should, and this is included in most state’s hearing aid dispensing laws, dispense a hearing aid to anyone without first having had an otoscopic examination of the ear. I do have patients come in for an audiologic evaluation and then learn through the assessment, that they have a perforated eardrum; with out someone physically examining the ear canal and the ear drum via an otoscope, and then verifying that a perforation exists via testing called tympanometry, it is not possible to determine if such a perforation exists. Secondly, such a “do-it-yourself” hearing test will not be able to determine if a person’s hearing loss is sensorineural (nerve loss) or conductive (due to a potentially treatable middle ear condition) or a combination thereof; it is simply NOT possible to determine this with the test they describe on their webpage. So how expensive is it to purchase a hearing aid, even at $200, if you didn’t even need one, and should have been referred to the appropriate medical specialty for treatment?
Now, about the United Healthcare’s “Direct-to-consumer” hearing aid benefit via HealthInnovations, I have several serious concerns about this particular model. Some of the concerns pertain to their own version of on-line hearing assessment. My concerns are the lack of professional intervention at any level, issues related to the validity and reliability of the on-line hearing test, the assumption by HealthInnovations team that the device was the “cure”, the need to address conductive/mixed hearing loss and other medically relevant issues, that their model proposes dispensing hearing aids without a license, and finally their lack of follow-up care.
United HealthCare’s model has been the recipient of complaints from the American Academy of Audiology, the American Speech & Hearing Association, the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, the International Hearing Society, the Better Hearing Institute, the federal Food & Drug Administration, and several state licensing boards. They have also received a cease & desist letter from the FDA in 2012.
I can tell you that in my practice, I feel so strongly about the dangers in dealing with this particular model, that if a patient comes in and plans to utilize their United HealthCare (HealthInnovations) benefit, I will send them back out the door untested. Because I DO care about them, about proper hearing healthcare provision, and about jeopardizing my own license by participating with such an organization’s unprofessional conduct.
I don’t care where or how you buy a hearing aid, well actually I do, but I am vehemently opposed to these “do-it-yourself” hearing tests. They are a not a good choice and can have potentially dangerous consequences.
By the way, I too am hearing impaired and have worn hearing aids since my freshman year in High School. I have been on both sides of the desk. It is because of the lack of care I received from my original hearing aid salesman and his outrageous prices that I became a doctor of audiology. I KNOW first hand what patient’s go through and I also know the costs associated with a proper audiologic assessment, hearing aid fitting and follow-up care. But audiologists are worth it. I wonder how many of you would chose a “bargain” price at Costco for an artificial hip, or a buy one get one free knee replacement, or a do it yourself colonoscopy…these are all medical procedures and involve medical instrumentation and, to be done properly, should be carried out by someone with very specific advanced training and education.
Some may be happy with doing “ok” with cheap products obtained from a wholesaler, or some online source, but for those who demand excellence, I recommend an audiologist. Shop around if you wish, but you do get what you pay for. No matter what you do, please, please, please see an audiologist for a complete diagnostic audiologic hearing evaluation first. If the actual test isn’t any good, what difference will the rest make?
Mark, you have some valid concerns, yet you speak like an audiologist. Your comments “I know first hand what patient’s go through and I also know the costs associated with a proper audiologic assessment, hearing aid fitting and follow-up care. But audiologists are worth it”
these comments are an insult and condescending to people in need and it ignores the fact that most people cannot afford the “worth” of an audiologist. A medical doctor can give an ear exam that is cover by most insurance, audiologist exams are not.
What you have to understand is that hearing aids are different than major surgery which again is covered by Insurance. HA are “medical device” because it helps a medical condition. Audiologist are PHD’s and are not considered medical doctors, so the reason Costco cannot sell knee surgery is because they are not doctors, but a hospital can probably do that and still make a bundle of money. If your analogy is correct, imagine what would happen if an insurance company would refused to offer to pay for a necessary surgery?
Please be happy that desperate people that do not have the money/luxury to pay the “worth of your services” are finding some alternatives that hopefully will open the eyes/market of a hearing aids industry that shut out millions of people.
It seems to me that most people that buy HA from alternatives sources have done their research and they are not going to risk their health. They are motivated buyers, that know they need HA, and know that there are alternatives that may not be perfect, but at least they be able to hear and not be condemn to not hearing because a cruel industry that only thinks of profit have price them out of the market. ( I based this statements by volumes of data and comments in numerous websites and the statements of ihear founder who has over 20 years experienced in the industry and used to own a company that manufactured high end hearing aids).
Please do not be upset by my comments, I like for you to offer alternatives to the millions who cannot afford the cost of hearing aids. Already HA users are like the “have and have not”, only those that have thousands of dollars can buy hearing aids from audiologist, What do you suggest “the have not” do?
Great comment Yovani. Something has got to change I agree.
And thank you Erica for your tip on ihear article and for your work in writing . The world needs to know about this injustice and the unnecessary suffering of millions of people. I hope that ihear becomes a success, because it seems to me that it will lead to a shift in the way hearing aids are sold.
Yovani, you sound like a schill for UnitedHealthcare, not someone making a legitimate rebuttal to what Mark said. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are.
Let’s talk about this. You say people need affordable hearing aids, so you HAVE to have this model of online ordering, online testing (or stealing one from a local dispensor), shipping the aids to you, and if you need them adjusted you put them in the mail.
And what do the Hi-Health ITE aids cost? $1,000? Oh, what great savings. $1,000….no free local service, no counseling, you are on your own. Meanwhile, i own a local hearing aid office. We have a BETTER hearing aid, FOR LESS, do all the testing an audiologist can do, FOR FREE, and provide lifetime care of the hearing aid and will see you any time of the year FOR FREE for cleanings, adjustments, etc.
Hi-Health is the worst scam the insurance industry has ever perpetrated on its customers. Why did this model come to exist? $$$. And lots of it. And really poor hearing instruments and no support for the patients. The insurance companies can SELL you hearing aid coverage, then make you pay a “copayment” of $450 per hearing aid on a hearing instrument that probably costs them $150. So you buy the coverage, and then you make them even more money when you “use” that coverage.
I think this is the first time ever insurance has been sold in this manner, and it is no longer “insurance”. It is an illusion and a scam by a multi-billion dollar insurance company.
If you want cheap hearing aids, buy cheap hearing aids locally. At least then you will have some service and help with the device.
Sam, I’m no speaking for anyone, I’m a hearing aid user and have purchased aids from various audiologist over the years, paying thousands of dollars for them. When my wife and I were working and had the resources it was always a big expense, but we made the sacrifice and purchased the aids at whatever price it was, most times by credit.
Fast forward to now, I’m retired and on a fixed income, I do not have the means to pay 3-7 thousand dollars for hearing aids, honestly. Even if I wanted to buy from audiologist I can’t.
So I started doing research and found out, just like many others in different forums about the dirty secrets of the big six and some audiologist.
Also, we are living in a high tech and information explosion generation that gives consumers the ability to be informed about the products and services they buy.
Do not worry Sam, The high price audiologist’s will always have a market for those that can afford it and have no need for alternative comparison shooping, however, for the millions of us who can’t afford the cost, we have to look for alternatives. Is there fault on this point? Audiologist want the consumer to understand and accept their reasonings why they have such a high mark up, but do not offer the same consideratioin when the consumer is asking them to understand their predicament when they share their pain of their suffering because they can’t afford the cost of a set of instruments that can change their lives, especially when they know these set of instruments can be made in some cases for less than $100.
But now because of the times, the technology, the market will do the talking and it seems to be that in the near future it looks favorable to the consumer and less favorable to the companies and dispensers who have become acccustomed to high profits with little competition and secrecy.
Dispensers that want the consumer confidence should advertize their prices, with the cost of the aids separate from their other services and let the customer decide and do comparison shopping ( apples to apples) , this is the way it is for most services in the USA. Look at amazon how big they become? There are phone applications that you can scan groceries and it tells you where the price is the lowest. Do you think that the store that is selling at the lowest cost is loosing money? No, they are not loosing money, if they did they would no be open long. Hearing aids dispensers need to move away from past practices to the present, those that do will stay busy, those that don’t will be taking a big risk.
Yovani, you seem to think you know more than you do. Insurance DOES pay for testing by an Audiologist because they are health care professionals.
I get the feeling that reading through these, you have had a bad experience with hearing aids before. Please do not assume that because you have had a bad experience, that everyone else will.
Yes, I am an Audiologist, and the hardest thing for me about my job is that many of my patients are not up front and honest with me about their needs. Many patients do not come in my office and let me know that money is a concern. They go through the process and I make a recommendation based on their needs and then it is up to the Patient to let me know what they can and cannot afford. If they tell me, there are lots of different options. This includes medicaid, donation programs, government programs, and on occasion, I even donate a pair to a patient in need. However, I often get the standard “I’ll think about it.” The trust goes both ways. If a patient has needs, they need to let their caregiver know. How can anyone treat a problem if they don’t know what it is?
So you ask what the “have nots” should do? They should ask for help from the professional. That’s more than they would ever get from an online dealer.
Excellent article, thank you. The follow up comments by audiologist were informative, however they repeat the same information found in almost every forum and that is to defend themselves for the high cost of hearing aids. What they need to understand is that most of us can’t afford the cost, is that simple. No matter how much goodwill or caring the audiologist is, their training, professionalism, they are out of reach for probably 99.99% of people with hearing loss.
We need trailblazers that will think outside the box. Offer unbundled packages, advertise prices, secure good quality HA for the lowest price and you will change the world for millions of people, and that, my dear audiologist have to be worth more than profits.
I can’t replace my broken hearing aids because I don’t have the resources to do so. I searched days on end but without been able to see the cost comparison is impossible to shop.
If I had the know how or the finances, I would start a company and recruit trailblazer audiologist and purchase the best hearing aids possible made in the USA if possible, if not, I would get them overseas. I would work to break the US companies monopoly on hearing aids. I would be transparent, advertised the cost and list the comparison data with US made hearing aids. Look at what the Japanese automakers were able to do to the US automakers; they brought them to their knees by making good quality cars at affordable cost. South Korea auto makers are now doing the same thing. As a result, the US automakers are making better cars at a more affordable cost after a painful lesson. Perhaps hearing aid companies need a similar lesson because they are not listening to consumers. Audiologist, I call on you to not fall prey to the HA companies. Exercise your freedom and show compassion for your patients, money is not everything; you will make a good living and sleep better at night and when your time comes you will have done a great service to humanity and your legacy will be lasting.
To deny millions of people the ability to hear ( in my view) is a heinous crime in the first degree. Unfortunately the hearing impaired citizens do not have powerful enough advocates that can get congress to make changes in the way hearing aids are sold. Perhaps it will take a billionaire from another country to change the hearing aid market. I hope it happens soon.
Great comment! There is a new type of hearing aid coming to market in January that consumers can program themselves on the Internet. It’s a new technology by the inventor of Lyric hearing aids, the ones you wear all the time. Looks like a possible category killer. They’ll cost $199 each. Check out https://seniorplanet.org//www.ihearmedical.com/ I’m very excited to try them myself.
Erica, thank you. I read about ihear and the following article at https://seniorplanet.org//hearingmojo.com/ihear-hd-hearing-aid/
I think this is what is needed. A person like Mr. Adnan Shennib
This is what I was talking about in my comments. He has the knowledge, knows the industry, have the finances and it seems that he is doing this to help people and not to make money. He will eventually, and most important, will go in history as the person who was able to change the hearing aid industry and in the process help millions of people around the world. Wow! what a wonderful place for him to be.
Hearing aid companies are destine to die if they don’t change their ways in this fast pace changing technology and also they are not listening to the suffering millions of people with hearing loss.
Doctors of audiologist can also be in danger of becoming extinct. MD doctors already do the ear exams that is covered by insurance and skilled and experienced audiologist practitioners can do the adjustments. It’s sad because it seems to me that most audiologist do care and are willing to change the way they sell hearing aids if they would only get some help from the manufacturers.
Unfortunately, It seems ihear is sold out for 2014. Hopefully they can get more units made soon. I hope that their success don’t drive up prices. I’m interested in purchasing a pair.
I spoke to Mr. Shennib and he expects that they will be available again in January. I’d like to write an article about them on seniorplanet whenever they’re widely available. And get a pair myself.
Erica, great idea. Is there a possibility that you can contact some of the heads of the big six HA companies and get their opinion, as well as comments concerning what is happening in the low cost HA market and if they have plans to offer low cost hearing aids or change the way they distribute HA?
I would love to write an article covering the hearing aid industry for Senior Planet, and interview the manufacturers. I will look into it.
The most important things to have done in the fitting of hearing instruments are: 1) the hearing evaluation must be accurate. 2) the hearing instruments must be fit to your ears – your hearing loss is not the same as everyone else’s and your ears are a different shape and size so fitting and “tuning” the devices to your loss and ears gets you the optimal performance level. AuDiologists will help you with this and by the way the most expensive hearing aids are not necessarily what is best for you. Your AuDiologist can be helpful here too. The most expensive way to get hearing aids is the wrong way – even $609 aids in the drawer are too expensive.
@Larry: Sites like Audicus require an accurate hearing evaluation from an audiologist, so that the hearing aids can be programmed exactly based on someone’s personal hearing loss.
That is good to hear. So how many hearing evaluations has Audicus rejected as being inaccurate in the last year? How do you deal with people bringing you bad data? I know I recheck audios with regularity. Also in Oh you have to have an eval within the previous 6 mos. to fit an instrument within the law.
#2 is equally important! The instrument MUST be fit tomthe persons ear – shape, size, residual volume in order for the fit to be optimal for their hearing loss experience.
@Larry: Audicus has rejected many audiograms, and many orders have been canceled if someone is not able to send a valid audiogram.
We provide all customers with a variety of dome sizes, and our audiologists determine whether people receive open or closed domes. Fit is rarely an issue.
Again good to hear that you make sure to get an accurate audio.
We are miscommunicating on the word fit. I do not meat the tip or dome at all. I mean the real ear measures to tune the instrument to the patient’s unique ear. The target matches that many people settle for is not a measured “real” level of performance. Tuning the instrument to perform int eh patient’s ear is what truly customizes the performance for the patient.
I am a private practice audiologist who has been in practice for 30 years. Hearing aids are not retail electronic devices; they are medical prosthetics and should be prescribed and fitted by someone educated to do so. There are many types of hearing loss; not every hearing aid is appropriate for every patient. Amplification of sound is not a simple matter; the individual prescribing the aids must consider frequency bands, compression knee points, attack and release times, feedback cancellation algorithms, etc., etc, etc.
When you are evaluated for hearing aids, you should be paying not just for the instruments but for the process that enables you to successfully hear better: evaluation, counseling on use, and followup to make sure you can hear optimally with the instruments. This is not “one size fits all” any more than a single medication can be used to treat all illnesses. You need a professional with access to a number of different types of hearing aids to test you and guide you to the best hearing aids for your loss.
@Lynn: Online hearing aid retailers like Audicus do not allow people to purchase hearing aids that aren’t suited for their hearing loss. That’s why they require users to submit hearing tests from within the past year and have audiologists who review the tests and program the correct hearing aids.
Bundled costs account for the higher prices at the clinic. Most people cannot afford $7,000 hearing aids that are not covered by insurance.
An accurate hearing evaluation is not all it takes to make sure hearing aids are fit correctly. The ears hear the sound, but the brain processes it. 50 people could all have the exact same test results, but that doesn’t mean they would all need the hearing aids set in the same way. For example, an accurate test doesn’t require to find a patient’s comfortable listening level. It doesn’t measure their ability to hear speech in noise, and it also doesn’t measure how successful they would be if they wore hearing aids. It also doesn’t rule out any medical problems that could be causing the hearing loss. Without these, the accurate test is still worthless.
My husband and I both have perfect hearing. We like the tv at different volumes. We like different kind of music. We speak and different volumes. We are irritated by different sounds. It isn’t just about the ears and assuming that a simple test will solve all the problems is why the online hearing aid companies have a higher return rate.
Some of the info here is helpful, but I need to point out a few very bad misconceptions.
Let me first acknowledge that I am an audiologist and writing from that point of view, and not a professional writer by any means.
A. Audiologists do not “make a big cut” on the hearing aid sale. It may seem like the price includes a big profit but here’s exactly what the price pays for. the cost of the hearing aid to the audiologist, the overhead (including our salaries) and your office visits. The profession does what’s called bundling. The advantage is that the patient can have unlimited office visits at no extra charge, and multiple office visits are necessary to tune the hearing aid correctly. Beware of places that fit you and send you on your way.
At one point we “unbundled” and found out that patients didn’t come back for followup because they didn’t want to pay for the visit. Then they weren’t happy with the performance of the hearing aids, because we didn’t have the opportunity to finish tuning them or even cleaning them professionally.
B. Audiologists do have much more education on hearing and hearing aids than hearing aid dispensers, and it is the audiologist’s capabilities that make us worth the extra dollars for the service we provide. Sure, for many basic “fittings” a dispenser may do fine, but when it comes to the difficult situations, you want an audiologist and the training that goes with it. Many with basic fittings may say they are happy, but they don’t realize how much more they could be hearing. As the author notes, there are many capabilities of the hearing aids she wish she knew about. A competent audiologist would have trained her on those.
C. Costco and the like are much cheaper is not necessarily always true. Many of us can provide similar or better hearing aids for similar prices.
D. not all hearing aids are the same- even if these retailers and insurance companies tell you they are. Also, there are some excellent brands that are not available in Costco.
E. Remember, hearing aids are a medical device, not a consumerist appliance. You need a professional that understands not only how to adjust the high technology to your needs, but also how to advise you on communication skills. It is my opinion that many of the places selling them are only in it for the money. Find yourself an audiologist with a passion for helping you hear better and you will notice the difference from a retailer that is all about price.
Marvin Lewis, Au.D.
Doctor of Audiology
Mr. Ear, Lynn & Guru. No one questioning the PHD audiologist education, dedication to patients and knowledge. What you need to hear is, that most of us cannot afford your services, I’m talking millions of people.
In years past before the mass media information explosion, people that had the money or the ability to borrow, paid whatever price they had to for hearing aids because they didn’t have a choice.
These days people are more informed and empowered by information and been able to have choices in their medical care, (choices) are still very limited in the HA industry. ihear founder, Mr. Adnan Shennib is the type of person that is going to change the hearing aid industry and it will have an effect on the audiologist profession.
Please no disrespect but perhaps one suggestion is that you can focus on your expertise as an audiologist and not sell hearing aids, just like doctors and optometrist write prescriptions, you can do that and charge per visit or sell a package of 6-12-24 months of service, or think outside the box to reduce the cost. You have to admit that things are changing for the hearing aid industry and those that do not change their ways will be left behind. The good news in all this is the millions of people that will benefit from been able to hear and afford the cost of hearing aids.
Bro do you even know how the health care sector works? Doctors can send people out for all sorts of tests, procedures, exams, etc. to get that insurance money.. Someone actually pays for those tests lol.
I’m sure you’re not implying that the average cost of $1900.00 per device is set forth and solely due to mark up at the manufacturing level. Because that is misleading at best. The truth is, the “industry”, of which hearing health professionals are a part of, has been operating under a business model that is fully aware that as much as 80% of the population WITH hearing loss, goes untreated, with cost being the #1 reason as to why. This isn’t recent data, collected in the past 10 years. It’s information that’s been readily available for decades, however, there’s been no attempts to correct it. A quick Google search and the first link available reveals that the average markup, by the Audiologist/Dispenser, is $1300 – $1500 per device. If the average retail cost of a pair of hearing aids is in that so-called, $3800 range, and if we took the low end from above, that means that over 68% of the cost of hearing aids is all profit to the retailer, be it an Audiologist, Dispenser or Medical Dr. Say what you will about “bundling” (which, by the way, seems to be the newest buzz word of the industry), however, every person involved in the process needs to reassess their business model if he/she plans to still be in business in the coming decade. In a nutshell, cut the price and work a little harder. It’s not that difficult to figure out. Or to put it much more bluntly, “the jig is up”.
Thank you for reviewing Hearing Aid Forums. As an audiologist, I can say that many of my colleagues frequent the forums to give pointers to consumers who need an expert second opinion. While I believe everyone should be treated directly by a licensed audiologists, I know that cost can be an issue. Purchasing hearing aids through an audiologist can be a costly affair, but the cost can be lowered with the help of your insurance in cases where audiological care and hearing aids are sold separately. Separation of product and service is called unbundling, and it is a growing trend in the world of audiology. You can read more about unbundling on ASHA’s website:
I also wanted to point out another resource for your users. It is called Hearing Tracker. Here is a brief description from their website:
“HearingTracker.com publishes an online directory of over 17,000 hearing providers throughout the United States – the largest directory of its kind – and provides intuitive tools for locating providers with positive customer feedback. HearingTracker.com also boasts the largest collection of online hearing aid reviews in the world, giving undecided consumers a place to investigate their options.”
From my understanding, the website is independently owned, and has generated a number of their hearing aid reviews directly from consumers at the recent Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention. You can read more about it here:
Thanks for the link to Hearing Tracker. I will definitely check it out. FYI Mr. Lewis I WAS fitted by an audiologist who is the head of the Audiology Department at SUNY,New Paltz. She trains audiologists. If you can’t find a competent audiologist in such a setting, there’s something seriously wrong with your profession. Hearing Guru, as for “insurance paying” that is very misleading at best, whether services are bundled or not, since as you well know Medicare won’t pay a penny and most seniors depend on it. I was gratified to find United Healthcare filling a gap in Medicare even though they don’t provide a range of products.
Erica, i will answer your comment abt the profession With some facts. The scope of practice for audiologists is varied- hearing aids are but a part of and not the entire scope. The universities have a duty to educate
Us in the broad range of hearing and balance issues. We usually specialize once we get into a work setting.
Now opinions- I believe you will get your best
Hearing aid fittings and advice from those in private practice because we tend to make hearing aids a major part of our daily work. And to be fair to my colleagues in academia, i would make a lousy professor because of my specialization. Its the same with physicians, some are better at patient care and some are better teachers. I’m sorry you had a bad experience, but this forum you opened will hopefully help others
Marvin Lewis, Au. D.
Doctor of Audiology
I have worn hearings aids for DECADES. I have seen dispensers, audiologists, places like Costco – you name it, I’ve tried it. What I have found is that if all you are looking for is the hearing aid – you are missing out. What you really need to find is the right professional. For me if was an audiologist who took the time to do really thorough testing and find the right aids for me. The fanciest hearing aids in the world don’t do you much good if your professional didn’t take the time (or didn’t know how!) to adjust the aids just the way you need them.
Want the cheapest thing you can find? find some mail order hearing aid. Want to hear better? Do yourself a favor and take time to find a person who will get to know you and your needs, not just slap a hearing aid on you and send you out the door.
Hmm, @Chatty– I think this depends on the user. I’m biased as my husband uses the Audicus aNote and basic controller– after having (and losing, possibly on purpose) some bogus pair from Starkey that put us $6600 in the hole– and is over the moon about them. The “cheapest thing you can find” is kind of a loaded statement. For instance, I know that Audicus aids are made in Germany by a private manufacturer (Hansaton, as many users have referenced on the forum). Pretty sure that these are not the “cheapest thing” you can find by any means! The reason Audicus is able to sell them for so much less is due to the unbundling, as mentioned again above in some of the comments. Now maybe this is because he’s had a hearing aid before, but he’s felt that the quality of the product, and I think the customer service, from what he’s told me, is more than sufficient.