It is true that good hearing is something precious. But perhaps too many people take that “gift” for granted while there are reportedly nearly 30 million Americans who suffer hearing loss. Hearing loss can contribute to dementia, depression, high blood pressure, lower esteem, lower social function and social isolation. Getting Hearing Aids requires recognition of the serious need to reclaim good hearing and it requires resolve and “a good chunk of change” too.
How Much do Hearing Aids Typically Cost?
The cost of hearing aids is summarized as the expression goes, “it depends.” The range of assistive hearing devices ranges from the simpler and less expensive personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) to digital hearing aids, with the more expensive devices offering more sophisticated features and benefits. There are three general categories of devices available. Note that prices are per device, so many individuals will require hearing aids for both ears:
- Personal Sound Amplification Products: Ranging from about $50 to $500, these only amplify sound, with few other benefits, and may not help with any hearing loss. They boost all sound, including ambient sounds and sounds that you wouldn’t normally hear. They are not fitted by a professional audiologist, aren’t tailored for the individual and may carry no warranty.
- Analog Hearing Aids: Ranging from about $900 to $3,000, these amplify sound and do help with hearing loss. They offer better sound quality compared to a PSAP, are fitted by a professional audiologist, can be tailored to the needs and circumstances of the individual, are FDA approved and come with a warranty.
- Digital Hearing Aids: Ranging from about $1,000 to $4,000, these devices offer all the benefits of analog devices plus they modify sound waves.
The purchase of a hearing aid is more than buying a hearing device. It typically will include a hearing test, consultation, assistance with device selection, initial fitting and follow-up appointments to ensure a comfortable fit and proper function. The cost may also include warranty plans, batteries and routine cleanings, although some of the “support costs” can be unbundled to allow for smaller monthly payments.
The cost of hearing aids includes the services of the professional audiology and hearing services provider and is driven by significant research and technological advances in the industry. The quality of hearing devices has greatly improved over the years and more features and benefits are now included such as reduced device size, advanced noise reduction and even wireless capability. A key consideration in reviewing the cost of the devices is that they will typically last eight years. So, with all the benefits, and joy, of improved hearing, the investment will be well worth it. On a monthly payment basis, the cost may approximate what is paid for a home satellite television subscription.
The less-expensive PSAP devices are often ordered online, but the devices will come with no professional assistance in getting the sound right or the fit right.
There are many hearing aid manufacturers, but the following are the main ones. They are the largest brands and are generally viewed as the best brands. Each will offer some different models, features and price levels within the scope of its brand:
- Phonak– a Swiss company.
- Unitron– a Canadian brand.
- Starkey– a U.S. company.
- GNS ReSound– a Danish company that manufactures the Made for iPhone hearing aids.
- Widex– a Danish company.
Advances in features include:
- Reductions in size including in-your-ear aids, rendering them less visible to the second person observer.
- Rechargeable aids that require no battery changes.
- Bluetooth hearing aids that connect to a mobile phone for adjustments and different hearing circumstances.
Asking “which brand and type is best” doesn’t garner a quick or easy answer. Again, it depends. It depends on the number and sophistication of features desired and on the individual’s purchasing budget. Your professional audiologist and hearing services provider will offer some excellent counsel and helpful advice to enable you to make a good long-lasting choice.
Can I Use My Insurance to Help Pay?
The following are the ways that hearing aids can be paid for beyond the obvious one, completely out of pocket. The good news is that data indicates that about 40% of Americans have some form of third-party payment assistance available. In most cases, payment plans will not pay for the entire cost and will only cover hearing aid costs every few years, so you can’t expect coverage enabling the purchase of the newest model each year.
- Private Insurance. Some private health insurance plans cover hearing tests, hearing aid evaluations and may include partial payment for hearing aid devices. Additionally, some insurance plans offer negotiated discounts with contracted providers. Check with your insurance agency or the benefits manager at your company to find out coverage requirements and coverage amounts.
- Flexible spending accounts. Some employers may offer flexible spending accounts for healthcare expenses including hearing aids. Check with your employer for details.
- Veterans benefits. Those who served in the U. S. Military may be eligible for hearing aids through the Veterans Administration. Assistance can include paying for everything associated with the hearing aids. Alternatively, the Military Audiology Association may aid retirees in some areas. There are also some other options for hearing aid funding for veterans including low-interest loans and same-as-cash financing plans.
- State programs. Some states have programs for residents having hearing issues. Check the Hearing Loss Association of America for a list of state-level hearing aid coverage and organizations that can provide assistance.
- Medicare. Medicare unfortunately, does not pay the costs of hearing aids. However, if a referral is provided to the audiologist from Medicare, the costs of the hearing tests will be covered.
Lastly, talk with your audiologist or hearing services provider about options for financing and possible third-party coverage.
Who can put a price on having good hearing the sound of a loved one, or even hearing on-coming danger? This is a topic that deserves careful exploratory and professional consultation to find the answers and select the hearing devices that will serve your needs.
Editor’s Note: This article was brought to you by Harbor Audiology & Hearing. For great results and exceptional service, contact the audiology services professionals at Harbor Audiology & Hearing with convenient Washington Stake locations in Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Silverdale, Sequim and Port Angeles, WA. With licensed audiologists on staff at each location and a wide range of hearing aid products from top name brands, we’ll make sure you’re getting the hearing aid solution that’s right for you.