Where Should I Buy Hearing Aids?

In HEARING LOSS NEWS & INFORMATION by Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS*

Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS*

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Today,  many advertisements try to get your attention to buy hearing aids.  Some magazines offer Personal Sound Amplifiers for prices starting as low as $19.99, which are usually big and ugly and over-amplify sounds so much that they could damage your hearing.   Mail order magazines come in the mail from Illinois. The newspaper is filled with fliers telling everyone they have the best hearing aid in town.  You get bombarded on-line with hearing aid companies that try to tell you that they save you thousands of dollars by skipping the “middle man”.  Big Box Stores and insurance companies also vie for your attention.

How do you sort through all of this mess?  How do you know what to do and where to go? There are pros and cons to every one of these options.

Important Tips for Where to Purchase Hearing Aids:

1)      The most important factor in considering a hearing aid provider is service.   The best hearing aid technology today requires service.  Professional hearing care providers assure that the hearing aids are fit properly and preventive maintenance and cleaning is done regularly to prevent costly repairs. Don’t buy hearing aids from providers that only have part time office hours—they won’t be there when you need them.  Remember service is often part of the hearing aid purchase price.

2)      Hearing loss is a health concern that should be addressed by a licensed hearing professional.  Don’t let earwax, middle ear infection, fluid, brain tumors, mini-strokes, poor circulation, and more go undetected.   If your hearing test indicates any “Red Flags”, your local hearing aid provider will refer you to an Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist for further evaluation.

3)      There are six main manufacturers of hearing aids:  Starkey, Signia (formerly Siemens), ReSound, Oticon, Widex, and Phonak.   The franchised brands are either owned by these manufacturers or they use their technology and sell it at premium price.  Franchised brands lock their chips so other providers may not program them. Independent Providers have access to more products and can better serve your hearing needs.

4)      Hearing aids purchased from Big Box Stores do not have the same quality or features as those purchased from your local hearing aid providers, even if they may be the same brand.  Many of them are locked as well.

5)      An independent hearing care provider with many years of experience fitting hearing aids is usually better able serve your hearing aid needs.

6)      Purchasing hearing aids through your insurance company, via 3rd Party Discount programs may save you money upfront.  However, in the long run they can cost you much more.  If you have an insurance benefit it is better to have your local hearing care provider call the insurance company for you.

7)      Hearing aids come in all different price points, based on levels of technology, styles, capabilities, features and how they behave in noise.  If the ad sounds too good to be true—it probably is.   Don’t believe any claim that says that their hearing aid “eliminates background noise”. As you know, “50% OFF Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices” or “Buy one Get one FREE” are attention getters and the original price is often highly inflated.