Hearing aids are an important investment in your hearing health. When considering the price of hearing aids, which can range anywhere from $1500 to just over $4000 per device, there are several factors to consider when making your decision. Before purchasing hearing aids, it is important to understand these factors and feel comfortable discussing them with your hearing aid provider.
Factors contributing to the price of hearing aids
Health contribution and cognitive stimulation
It is important to understand how hearing aids are related to our overall physical and mental well-being. Research has shown how untreated hearing loss leads to isolation. This not only leads to a poor quality of life, but also increased symptoms of depression. The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) reports how untreated hearing loss is linked to fatigue, anxiety, depression, social isolation and frustration. More recently, the American Medical Association reported how hearing loss is also associated with dementia. According to the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), hearing aids stimulate your hearing nerves and prevent important areas in your brain from being reorganized or even shrinking, therefore preventing cognitive deficits. It is quite remarkable what hearing aids can do with an investment in your hearing health.
Style and technology of hearing aids
Before purchasing hearing aids, it is important to choose hearing aids which best suit your hearing loss and personal lifestyle. Hearing aid prices vary based on their level of technology, although hearing aid styles may slightly affect cost as well. Hearing aids are available in several styles including Invisible in the canal (IIC), Completely in Canal (CIC), In the canal (ITC), In the Ear (ITE), Behind the Ear (BTE), and Receiver in the Ear (RITE).
Basic hearing aids have little to no background noise reduction. They also only have few options when it comes to making adjustments to their sound. Premium hearing aids have the highest amount of background noise reduction and will seek out and amplify important speech cues. Premium hearing aid software allows your hearing professional to make many adjustments based on your listening needs and lifestyle.
When purchasing hearing aids from a hearing healthcare clinic, you are also paying for the knowledge and expertise of an educated and highly-trained professional who will advise you appropriately on your hearing needs. They will ensure you are receiving the proper care and benefit from your hearing aids.
Reputable clinics and healthcare professionals provide follow-up care and will advise you to contact them immediately with any questions, or if any issues arise. They will gladly see you in person to ensure you are comfortable and having success with your hearing aids.
Hearing aids are unlike prescription glasses, for example. Prescription glasses may require an initial adjustment, although most often do not need further adjustment until the prescription changes. People often adjust to new glasses in a few hours to days with little to no trouble. Most notably, people typically seek professional advice as soon as they start having vision issues. Whereas according to the Center for Hearing and Communication, people typically wait up to seven years before seeking professional advice for their hearing.
Hearing aids also require a prescription and many clients do not adjust to their hearing aids immediately. On average, a client visits the clinic two to three times for counselling or physical and acoustical adjustments before they will feel comfortable with their new hearing aids. In fact, a client typically returns for follow-up visits around four to five times within their warranty period to ensure their hearing aids are being adjusted to their ever changing needs. Hearing aids are intricate and complex devices and as such require maintenance, cleaning and repair over time.
Source: Based on follow-up visits from new hearing aid wearers to HearingLife clinics from Jan-Dec 2017.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration acknowledges the importance of appointments with licensed hearing healthcare professionals. They report that hearing aids require an adjustment period and follow-up visits with a licensed hearing aid professional is recommended to take full-advantage of the hearing aids.
Online and big retail stores
It is unfortunate that sometimes due to the investment cost of hearing aids, people with hearing loss forego purchasing hearing aids altogether or choose to purchase them online as a less expensive option. While there are many great products available online, purchasing hearing aids online is simply not a good solution for hearing loss.
Online companies may offer tutorials on how to clean their devices and possibly even standardized tips on getting used to them, but there is nothing customized about this. Each client is unique and requires different amounts and types of adjustment and counselling. There are many clients who cannot benefit from stock ear tips and need custom options, which are unavailable online. Hearing aid adjustments and custom ear tips are unable to be properly serviced or fit, without a visit to your local licensed Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist.
Big retail stores have begun to sell store-specific branded hearing aids which can only be programmed at that store. It is important that your hearing aids can be adjusted at any clinic should you relocate or travel. In addition, if you are ever unhappy with the aid or the service you are receiving at that store, you will be disappointed unless you purchase new hearing aids at a hearing clinic that provides a variety of manufactured hearing aid brands.
Local repair and service
Reputable clinics will only sell hearing aids made in Europe or North America. They will also usually have a repair facility in the same country you reside in. This will increase the turnaround time should your hearing aids need an out-of-clinic repair. Most repair and warranty services are included in the price of hearing aids for an extended period. Hearing aids require maintenance, cleaning and repair over time and this included warranty will assist with that.
Research and development
Hearing aids have experienced the greatest leap in technological advancements in recent years. They are now fully wireless and compatible with smartphones, so phone calls and music can be streamed right through your hearing aids. iphones and Android phones can also be used to discretely change hearing aid settings, and even help track them should they ever get lost. Hearing aids communicate wirelessly with each other to ensure the user is always hearing speech sound above background noise. It costs manufacturers millions of dollars each year in research to continually improve upon the technology within the tiny hearing aid casing. Therefore, a significant portion of the cost of hearing aids goes towards research and development costs.
Many clinics offer payment plans and most insurance companies will help cover a percentage or full-reimbursement of the cost of hearing aids to assist clients financially. Hearing aids are a medical expense and are often income tax deductible. Some provinces assist in partial hearing aid funding through a government grant. Each province also has its own Workplace, Safety and Insurance Board which would fully cover the cost of hearing aids and their services. This also goes for Veterans Affairs Canada and Canadians with First Nation status. Those who have limited monthly income or disabilities can also reach out to their region for assistance.
Questions to ask before purchasing aids
Before purchasing your hearing aids, there are a few important questions to ask your hearing care provider to ensure you are receiving the optimal solution for your hearing loss and investing in a high-quality product from a dependable clinic.
Purchasing hearing aids is an important investment in your quality of life, relationships and overall health. The right hearing care professional will understand your hearing loss as well as your financial situation, lifestyle and expectations. They will be well-equipped to work with all types of budgets by offering products in the appropriate price range that will suit your needs. Don't put off this important step to better quality of life. Visit our directory to find a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist near you and make that call today.