Those Hearing Aids Cost…How Much??
Even in tough economic times, the cost of everything, including necessities, is on the rise. The price of today’s automobile is twice as much as my parents paid for their first house.
In the 1980’s, my wife would joke about how a pair of tiny hearing aids would cost as much as two huge refrigerators. Over the years, the retail cost of hearing aids has risen about the same as other medical and consumer items. Believe it or not, a pair tiny hearing aids still costs about the same as two huge refrigerators.
So when you get an answer of $4000, or $4500, or even $5000 to your question of “How much were those hearing aids?” don’t be surprised. I still want to swallow my tongue every time I see my electric bill.
Fortunately, the world of hearing aids has changed since the 1980’s. I used to tell patients that their aids would last 3- 4 years. During those 3-4 years they would hear better, but experience annoying feedback, continued difficulty in restaurants and other noisy places, a plugged-up feeling, and…oh, yes!…the whole world would notice the “wad of gum” in their ears.
Technology and professional expertise has changed all of this. Hearing aids are now worn discreetly and out of sight. Comfortable, open fittings allow for a clear, crisp blend of amplified and natural sounds. With tinnitus evaluation techniques, feedback cancellation measures, speech in noise tests, and other advanced diagnostics, Audiologists can program hearing aids to function far beyond the old “making things louder”. Also, they’ll last far beyond 3-4 years. That’s a much better refrigerator.
Considering hearing aids? Keep these tips in mind when seeking help.
Avoid “free hearing tests”. Most free tests are simple air-conduction tests and do not provide enough information to program today’s instruments properly. Also, medical conditions may be overlooked.
Give an extensive case history. Along with your medical/hearing history, your present lifestyle and hearing expectations should be discussed. This information, along with comprehensive audiologic testing, sets the stage for an accurate selection of style and technology.
In most cases, you have choices in style/technology. Get what you want within your budget. Being “over sold” is very common. Avoid the “hard sell”. This is not a refrigerator.
Florida State Law allows for a 30 day trial for all new hearing aids. You can return them if you are not satisfied. This must be in writing.
Warranties/Insurance Look for (at least) a 2 year Warranty and a 1 year Loss and Damage Insurance Plan.
Brand names?. Not as important as you may think. Most manufacturers offer advanced technology, reliability and service. Your dispensing professional is the most important element in your decision. Rely on your “trust meter”.
Most insurances, including Medicare, do not pay for hearing aids.
Prices. Yes, they are expensive. I tell patients that hearing aids are an investment, not a purchase. With the proper testing, programming, counseling and care, your hearing aids will last as long as you want them to. For Consumer Pricing Information for hearing aids and other health care products and services, go to www.healthcarebluebook.com .
This article is written in the interest of Better Hearing by Christopher J. Hutchinson, Ph.D. Medical Associates of Brevard, ENT/Audiology