Author Topic: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?  (Read 1569 times)

Monkey Uncle

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Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« on: February 05, 2019, 06:47:39 PM »
Well, we knew the day was coming sooner or later, and now it's here.  My wife needs hearing aids.  The audiologist is quoting $4k to $6k for both ears.  Yikes.

Of course, the first thing I did was google "affordable hearing aids." 

There are online sellers that come in around $1k.  The big downside with those is that you don't have an experienced person to help choose, fit, and adjust the aids.  Not sure what kind of hassle we'd get into if we needed to return or exchange them, or if they needed service at some point.

Costco has options for around $2k, and I've read good things about their hearing aids.  But it's a 2 1/2 hour drive to the nearest Costco.  We wouldn't mind doing that drive to save $2k to $4k, but it would get to be a pain in the ass if we had to drive back and forth for adjustments or other service on a regular basis.

Sam's Club also has hearing aids that appear to range from $700 to $3600 for a pair.  The nearest Sam's Club is about an hour away.  Not sure how theirs compare quality-wise to the Costco aids.

I also see that there are el cheapo "personal sound amplification products" that go for anywhere from $20 to $300 or so.  I'll be honest; I'm a little leery of those.

Anyone have any personal experience with any of these products?  Good, bad, or ugly?

Rural

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2019, 08:06:16 PM »
The $20 ones are actually not bad, but then the $6K ones aren't all that good. I'd recommend some $20 hunting ones for backups. Also look into pricing in other countries; it's my understanding that you can have a European vacation plus get real hearing aids for less than the cost of full-price Us hearing aids.


I do hear good things about the Costco ones from my father.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2019, 09:16:21 PM »
The good hearing aids from the expensive audiology appointment aren’t just sound amplifiers. They make the sounds loud at the frequencies where your wife is lacking those sensors. They might have the ability to tap into “loops” too, which can help at churches, movies, plays, etc. it’s an electrical thing where the sound goes right from the microphones of the venue directly into the hearing aids. You can also “loop” a spot in your house, or the whole house, or even a specific chair, where when your wife is in that spot, she can get her phone call directly into the aid. Not just sound amplification. Thy can also customize the look exactly how she wants them. They can practically be invisible.

Really, you’re paying for the expertise of the audiologist to explain all of this stuff to you. There’s some cool things with directionality on the expensive ones where if you’re wife is looking at someone, that voice will be amplified but the background noise won’t be. The cheaper hearing aids are a nightmare in crowded restaurants or other crowded places.

However, they only work if your wife wears them. If they are going to sit in a drawer, just go for the cheapies.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 09:18:07 PM by Apple_Tango »

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 05:02:49 AM »
The good hearing aids from the expensive audiology appointment aren’t just sound amplifiers. They make the sounds loud at the frequencies where your wife is lacking those sensors. They might have the ability to tap into “loops” too, which can help at churches, movies, plays, etc. it’s an electrical thing where the sound goes right from the microphones of the venue directly into the hearing aids. You can also “loop” a spot in your house, or the whole house, or even a specific chair, where when your wife is in that spot, she can get her phone call directly into the aid. Not just sound amplification. Thy can also customize the look exactly how she wants them. They can practically be invisible.

Really, you’re paying for the expertise of the audiologist to explain all of this stuff to you. There’s some cool things with directionality on the expensive ones where if you’re wife is looking at someone, that voice will be amplified but the background noise won’t be. The cheaper hearing aids are a nightmare in crowded restaurants or other crowded places.

However, they only work if your wife wears them. If they are going to sit in a drawer, just go for the cheapies.

Yeah, that's why I'm leery of the cheap PSAPs.  But from what I'm reading, the aids at Costco, Sam's Club, and various online outlets are real hearing aids, just like the expensive ones you get from an audiologist.  Although they might not have the really high end ones with all the bells and whistles, the aids they sell supposedly have the same features as the audiologist's basic and mid-range options, including directionality, binaural adjustment, and the ability to focus on the troublesome frequencies.  Costco and Sam's have either audiologists or HIS folks on staff to do hearing assessments and assist with product selection, fit, adjustment, and service.  The savings come from lower overhead.

Noodle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 11:32:00 AM »
I have not used the specific products you are talking about, but I have a few pieces of information that may help.

1. Not long ago, Congress passed a law authorizing the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. These are devices that are more sophisticated than the simple devices you are talking about, but less sophisticated than the ones audiologists dispense, and the consumer would do more of their own adjustments, possibly with the help of a smartphone app. As a brand-new type of device, they have not yet hit the market but will be coming soon. So one possibility would be to hold off a bit and see if those types of devices work for your wife.

2. HOWEVER....another possibility you might consider is to go ahead with the expensive, audiologist-fitted devices for the first round. (First, you say? Yup, hearing aids have to be replaced every five years or so.) Your wife will learn so much from the process that is almost impossible to research--about what she can expect from the technology, likes and dislikes, the kind of technology that works best for her, options available. Then next time, it would be much easier to go with a mail-order purchase or an OTC device, or to decide that audiologist fittings continue to be the right choice for her.

3. If you have insurance, check to see if they participate in any hearing aid discount programs. Mine doesn't have hearing aid coverage, but I was able to use a discount program called Amplifon. The audiologist said it saved about $1000 on my device (I only wear one)--who knows on that, but I also got a ton of batteries included, extended warranties, and much better terms on trial periods and exchanges. There were actually a couple of different programs and I ended up picking sort of randomly because I was so overwhelmed, but it worked out well for me.

4. Keep in mind that hearing aids are more like a prosthetic limb than glasses. You don't just stick them in your ear and go...you have to learn how to use them and your brain has to relearn how to hear with them. The first few days can really suck. It probably took a month for me to be fairly comfortable, and around six months before mine worked perfectly for me. A LOT of people, especially ones who aren't being coached by an audiologist, try them out for a few days, get frustrated, and throw the aids in a drawer claiming they didn't work right. Talk about a waste of money...

5. Hearing aids dispensed by an audiologist have a minimum of a 30-day return policy in my state, and I actually had 60 days due to the discount program I used. I actually did try out one other device and returned it before I settled on the current version. So you can try but not buy. (There may be a restocking fee of a couple hundred dollars to compensate the audiologist for his or her time in the fitting. That was waived under my program, but I know it was part of the standard contract).

6. The Costco aids, from what I hear, are perfectly fine but you're right, you need to be convenient to a store for adjustments. I didn't bother with them because they didn't carry the kind of hardware I wanted to try initially, but they can be a great option if convenient.

7. If your wife is a musician or cares a lot about music, skip over the advice above and just spring for the fancy high-tech aids. They really do make a difference to people who are trained to notice. Tell the audiologist she needs the "music" setting.

I also just want to say...I resisted hearing aids for several years, partly because of the cost, and I so regret it now. Hearing technology has changed my life and so reduced the social isolation that was developing, and problems I was having at work because I had trouble communicating. (It also gives you superpowers like turning off your hearing when your annoying cousin starts yammering about politics...)

It's surprisingly hard to find useful information about living with partial hearing loss--a lot of the resources out there are for fully deafened people, or the parents of deaf children--but I did like this book:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0761187227. Good luck!

Dee18

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2019, 01:46:41 PM »
I have lost hearing in one ear and decided to try a hearing aid.  I met with the audiologist at my ENT's office.  She talked with me at length about my hearing needs (such as in lecture halls) and suggested a particular one.  Then she spent quite a bit of time adjusting that for me.  I was allowed to try it for 30 days and then return to see her.  In the end I decided to not get a hearing aid yet.  I found the sound difference between the ear with the hearing aid and my good ear so distracting that I preferred hearing with just one ear.  The audiologist said she thought that might be my conclusion, but she thought it was worth trying one. I was totally impressed by the audiologist and what I learned about hearing aids.  I suspect I will need one (or two) in the future.  I hope the technology improves because even a high end hearing aid isn't like the real thing.  I concur with the suggestion above that your wife first try a high end hearing aid with a professional audiologist as I did.  Then she will know what the top of the line feels like.  After that, she could try Costco (where many of my mother's friends have had success) or an over the counter model.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2019, 06:14:18 PM »
Thanks very much for all that information, @Noodle and @Dee18.  I greatly appreciate you taking the time to reply.

We definitely want to avoid the "throw it in a drawer" outcome.  I have relatives who've spent big bucks on hearing aids and then ended up not using them because they couldn't get used to them.  If you have any more advice about getting through the adjustment period, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks again.

Noodle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 07:04:23 AM »
Honestly, I think the biggest success factor in the adjustment period is knowing there's going to be one. My dad got hearing aids after I did, and my mom and I were kind of nervous because he is famously impatient especially around technology that doesn't work the way he wants. I talked to him several times about what the initial period was going to be like, and apparently that was enough because he did very well. I do recommend planning for some time off from work, or at least scheduling the fitting for late on a Friday afternoon so you have the weekend to adjust. I did not, and it was stupid. The first 24 hours are the worst, and the first month is tough, partly because the audiologist is still fixing things. Mine forgot to turn on the music setting initially and the first rehearsal I went to was a total disaster because it sounded like I was underwater. It also helps to stay in quiet environments for the first few days--that's not the time to go to your favorite pizza restaurant with concrete walls and floors and kids shrieking. You really do have to wear the aids any time you're awake so the adjustment period goes as quickly as possible.

I think a lot of the "abandoners" are folks whose kids or spouses put their feet down and insisted on hearing aids, and the patient never really wanted one in the first place. So they don't have the stamina to get through the first rough period.

Also, pro-tip--there's no point in lying to your audiologist about how much you wear the aid. The first thing she's going to do is check the usage, and then she'll know.

Oh, and as you are shopping...the killer app for me is the ability for the aid to connect directly to my iPhone--no streaming widget required. Getting phone calls fed directly to the aid, being able to listen to music and podcasts in the car without wind noise, etc etc. LOVE IT and I highly recommend asking about that feature. I think Android phones are supported now too.

reformed spendthrift

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 01:15:20 PM »
My husband got hearing aids- he picked the middle price range which I believe was around $3000. He had to go in for several adjustments and he still doesn't hear very well with them. When we go out he tends to turn them off because the restaurants are so loud. And of course,  the batteries need to be changed out every day or so which is a cost.  I don't think he would get them if he could do it all over again.

iwannaretire

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 09:10:19 PM »
I bucked up and got the ones from the audiologist because I felt like I needed the support to be available.  But if you want to avoid the "throwing them in the drawer" syndrome get hearing aids with rechargeable batteries.  I've had my over a year and only one has needed a battery change (mailed free to me by the audiologist).  If had to change the batteries every few days, I think I would have given up too.  It's a hassle.

I found the audiologist helpful in explaining the need for hearing aids, as I wasn't convinced the hearing loss was bad enough.  He explained that once you lose the ability to hear a sound, you cannot regain it.  So, you need hearing aids to be worn to prevent future hearing loss, as well as help you hear.  I have also seen articles tying hearing loss to dementia, so it is something to be taken seriously.


Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 07:29:50 AM »
Thanks for all the helpful information, everyone.

As I read more from various sources, a couple of observations and potential issues are becoming apparent:

1) Costco seems to have a pretty robust selection of name-brand products, and at least on the surface, they seem to offer the same sort of support and service as a traditional audiology practice (free hearing assessment, 6 month trial period, standard factory warranty, free follow-up service, adjustments, and cleaning).  Costco apparently has 11% of the US hearing aid market share, indicating that they are a serious contender in this business.  So the only downside would appear to be the 2 1/2 hr drive to the nearest Costco. 

But I say "on the surface" because the online reviews I've read are all over the place.  It seems that people have had widely divergent customer service experiences, which I guess is to be expected from a chain that has hundreds of locations across the country.  Not sure what we could do to guard against that except roll the dice and hope for the best.

2)  It seems much more difficult to find objective information about the Sam's Club hearing centers and hearing aids, but from what I've seen they seem to have more low budget off-brand models, and less selection generally.  They don't seem to be as well established in the business as Costco, and reviews are similarly mixed.  Not sure we're willing to take a risk on what is essentially an unknown quantity.

3) At this point we're leaning away from the online options, because it's clear that adjusting to hearing aids takes time, effort, and probably hardware adjustments.  We probably don't want to do that on our own.

4) The private-practice audiologist has been frustratingly opaque about the products she is selling.  She only sells one brand (Oticon, which seems to be a reputable name brand).  Basically she just quoted us four prices without giving us any information on the features and specs of the different models, the implication being "more expensive is better."  When my wife asked for more information, all she got was a couple of marketing brochures that didn't contain any real information.  So if we go this route, it looks like we would basically be trusting the audiologist to take care of her.  So the audiologist seems to be about as much of a dice-roll as the more affordable options.

5) Regardless of where they are purchased, it is becoming clear that people's experiences with even the expensive aids is difficult.  Some people just don't seem to ever get used to them, and reliability issues seem to be common, whether the aid is a budget model or top of the line model.  Not encouraging.

6) Most of the models sold nowadays are set up to connect directly to smart phones, TVs, and other devices.  We do not have smart phones, a wireless-capable TV, or any of the other "devices" that most people have.  So my wife needs aids that work well with ambient sound from old-style telephones, TVs, stereos, etc.  Also, she will not have the capability to control her aids with a smart phone.  I am concerned that she's not going to be able to find an aid that works for her.

Noodle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 08:45:15 AM »
Given that you are starting to lean away from the various "budget" options, and toward an audiologist prescription, it might be worth shopping around more for an audiologist if that is an option in your area--not because the prices will necessarily differ all that much, but because there are better folks out there in terms of customer service based on your description. My audiologist spent a long time talking about pluses and minuses of various options and was careful not to "steer" the conversation. In fact, she warned me that it is not uncommon for people to buy aids with all the bells and whistles and then not use them. (That was not the case for me--I use ALL the features--so the highest high-end was best for me and worth the money.) Based on what you are saying about not needing streaming, level 3 might be just fine for your wife, or maybe even 2. You are right that the process involves a fair amount of trust in your audiologist in the end, but not quite as much as the current person seems to be asking for!

As for selection, all six of the major brands (Oticon, Widex, Resound, Phonak, Signia and Starkey) are fairly similar in terms of their features and quality, so I think it is pretty common for a smaller practice not to work with all six--because you need tuning software, training in the features, etc. etc.

Apple_Tango

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 04:33:29 PM »
In my opinion the whole point of going to the audiologist is the 1:1 personal attention, the education, and the feedback on what is and what is not working. Like any medical professional, some are good and some are not. If you don’t like the audiologist, I probably wouldn’t buy from her. Even though I’m a fan of audiology in general, if you can’t find one with the heart of a teacher, then Costco (or an equivalent) might be the best option.

Mtngrl

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 08:05:40 PM »
My husband and his father both have Costco hearing aids and have been very happy with them and the service. We actually live 3 1/2 hours from a Costco, but the cost savings made it worth it. He saw an audiologist locally first -- then, with those test results in hand, he went to Costco. He only went back 1 time after 30 days for some fine tuning. He's had his hearing aid for a little over a year. Whenever we are near a Costco anywhere, he stops in and has them cleaned.

fuzzy math

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2019, 07:37:11 AM »
The required trip to Costco would be enough on its own to steer me directly to that option. Then again I love Costco. My nearest one is 90 mins away. My DD has an appointment on Tues to find out if her surgery worked or if she needs a hearing aid. This thread is timely and much appreciated on my end!

A friend of mine works at Costco and is going through a 2 yr program to get whatever certification is required for the hearing aid dept. Costco takes really good care of their employees and customers.

bognish

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2019, 11:23:44 AM »
There are 5 hearing aid companies that make most of the hearing aids on the market. Each company has a number of different brands that target different consumer groups and price points. Unless you are in the 5% of patients that have significant hearing loss, the basic technology is the same in all of the brands. The price range for the 95% of consumers is mostly about appearance and what features they turn on. The Kirkland brand hearing aid are the same technology as the Resound, but without the brand name. There is a good chance that the audiologist's office that you visited is owned by one of the 5 hearing aid companies. There is such a huge mark up on hearing aids that the manufactures started buying up independent practices so that they would only carry the manufacturers lines.

I worked for a small hearing aid company about 10 years ago. They looked at trying to put our $5000 hearing aid into CVS style stores for $400 with most features turned off. Similar to the reading glasses model. The big hold up is that there is more technology involved in hearing aids than glasses. We were afraid seniors wouldn't be able to figure it out on their own and it would get a bad reputation. Also the company was making 200% margin at $400, but that is much more money that most people are spending on something off the shelf in CVS. But according to our in house audiologist 75% of people buying hearing aids could buy one off the shelf and get it programed to their hearing loss themselves. I am sure the aps and technology has made this number even higher in the last 10 years.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2019, 05:55:11 PM »
There are 5 hearing aid companies that make most of the hearing aids on the market. Each company has a number of different brands that target different consumer groups and price points. Unless you are in the 5% of patients that have significant hearing loss, the basic technology is the same in all of the brands. The price range for the 95% of consumers is mostly about appearance and what features they turn on. The Kirkland brand hearing aid are the same technology as the Resound, but without the brand name. There is a good chance that the audiologist's office that you visited is owned by one of the 5 hearing aid companies. There is such a huge mark up on hearing aids that the manufactures started buying up independent practices so that they would only carry the manufacturers lines.

I worked for a small hearing aid company about 10 years ago. They looked at trying to put our $5000 hearing aid into CVS style stores for $400 with most features turned off. Similar to the reading glasses model. The big hold up is that there is more technology involved in hearing aids than glasses. We were afraid seniors wouldn't be able to figure it out on their own and it would get a bad reputation. Also the company was making 200% margin at $400, but that is much more money that most people are spending on something off the shelf in CVS. But according to our in house audiologist 75% of people buying hearing aids could buy one off the shelf and get it programed to their hearing loss themselves. I am sure the aps and technology has made this number even higher in the last 10 years.

Thanks for that insight.  Very helpful.

midwesterner1982

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2019, 10:59:25 PM »
Buy the best ones from an Audiologist or she probably won't use it.
1) My 1st one lasted 10 yrs.  A good quality model from a great Audiologist.
2) 2nd one was an el cheapo that I never wore.  Waste of money.  It was sold to me by a bad professional.  Ask around before you select your audiologist.
3) 3rd one is 5 years old, a ReSound with iPhone connectivity, bluetooth streaming, nearly unnoticeable, and sounds great.  Ppl can now sit on by 'bad side' and still have a normal conversation.

misshathaway

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2019, 06:20:29 AM »
"Affordable" Costco - $2600 ReSound Forte. Like midwesterner mine connect to the iPhone and function as Bluetooth headphones as well, which is handy. I've had them for 1 1/2 years and nothing has gone wrong except  Bluetooth once. That was fixed by turning Bluetooth on and off on the phone.

I hate going to Costco. I had the aids cleaned once after a year when I was at Costco anyway for something else. But no adjustments were needed. You can do some frequency futzing with the included app. I don't even have a Costco membership anymore. Will just find an independent hearing aid place if I need any repairs.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2019, 06:51:25 PM »
Well, my wife has decided to give Costco a shot.  They do everything an independent audiologist's office does, and their aids have a longer trial period (6 months vs. 1 month) and a longer warranty (3 years vs. 1 year).  The only drawback is the travel, which I think we can swallow given that we should be saving $2k or more.  It looks like we'll need to make one trip for the assessment, another trip a week or two later to pick up the aids, and then Costco recommends a two-week follow up for any necessary adjustments.  After that, they recommend a once yearly cleaning/adjustment visit, although they will do adjustments and cleanings for free at any time if the customer needs it.

Her appointment is still a couple of weeks out.  Will report back afterwards.

CarolinaGirl

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2019, 01:35:50 PM »
Looking forward to hearing how it goes. 

I was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears a couple of years ago and have been going back and forth about getting hearing aids.  Does your wife also suffer from tinnitus?  I think I would pay $$$$ if I knew that the aids would make that high pitched squeal go away!

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2019, 06:52:02 PM »
Yes, she does have some tinnitus, but not severe.  Actually, we both do.  Unfortunately nothing can cure tinnitus, but most digital hearing aids these days can provide a masking sound to help make it less annoying.

I've been taking ginkgo for my tinnitus for years.  The research consensus seems to be that ginkgo doesn't actually work, but my experience has been different.  Although my tinnitus hasn't gone away, it is much more tolerable when I am taking ginkgo.

Pigeon

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2019, 07:10:01 AM »
I just got HAs after resisting them for years.  Mine are Signa high end rechargeable BTE devices purchased through an audiologist.  My insurance has an arrangement with a company that gets them at a discount and the insurance then covers 80%.  My devices would retail for over $7K, but I paid less than $1K, including a streaming mike for when I want to stream music directly to the HAs, which isn't covered at all by my insurance.  It wasn't strictly necessary, and if I used an iPhone I wouldn't have needed it.

Mine are rechargeable, which I like a great deal.  The batteries are supposed to last 3 years and then will need to be swapped out.  If you don't get rechargeables, make sure you get ones where the batteries last a week or so and not the ones where the battery has to be changed daily, as that's a total pain.  My father had those and all the fiddling with the tiny little batteries was not good.  Some can use either rechargeable for most use, but allow you to swap in regular batteries as a back up or when you are traveling. 

I would have probably gone with Costco if it were an option where I live.  I've gone back a couple times for adjustments and follow-up and I don't want to drive hours for that.  Costco has a good reputation and has good offerings.  They employ some gigantic percentage of audiologists in the US.

My big complaint about the HAs is that I'm kicking myself for not doing this a long time ago.  They are really, really good.  I was having a terrible time hearing conversation, especially in meetings at work.  It does take some getting used to them, but mine haven't required much tinkering.  There are different programs you can access on your phone for different sound environments, but the universal setting on my HAs gets it right about 95% of the time. 

I'm a woman and have hair that mostly covers my ears.  So far, no one has noticed them, which was a concern for me.  I wore them at home for nearly a week before I told my husband I'd gotten them.  Other family members and friends that I see often haven't noticed them either. 

My audiologist works with all the major brands and we discussed many different kinds of HAs before I settled on the ones I got.  I would avoid audiologists that only work with one brand.  There are some combinations of features that aren't found in single brands.  Some of it has to do with your personal preferences and lifestyles, and I agree that HAs won't help you if you won't wear them.  Having done my initial research I would have leaned toward Opticons, but they weren't the best option for me.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 07:17:27 AM by Pigeon »

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2019, 02:36:42 PM »
Thanks, Pigeon. 

Funny you should mention your hair covering the aids.  When my wife tried out a pair of over-the-ear aids at the audiologist's office, she kept hearing an annoying crackling sound.  The audiologist said it was due to her hair brushing against the aids, and that she would need to get in-ear aids to avoid this problem.  I thought that was odd, given that most people nowadays have over-the-ear aids, and most people have hair.  Surely all those people aren't putting up with annoying crackling sounds all the time.

retiredat58

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2019, 03:55:56 PM »
Definately Costco. I am a late deafened adult and on my second pair in 6 years and they just keep getting better. $2500.00. The biggest thing is that people get hearing aids, never wear them and never get through the adjustment phase. Then they put them in and start the adjustment period all over again. Or they don’t go back for adjustments and just give up. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m almost deaf without them. Or people keep them FOREVER, sending them back for repairs. Would you keep a cell phone or computer for 10 years ? Technology changes and hearing aids are no exception. My hearing hasn’t changed according to tests, but I hear SO much better with the current upgraded hearing aids. You won’t go wrong with Costco, and I travel 2 hours to get to one.

Pigeon

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2019, 05:12:23 PM »
Thanks, Pigeon. 

Funny you should mention your hair covering the aids.  When my wife tried out a pair of over-the-ear aids at the audiologist's office, she kept hearing an annoying crackling sound.  The audiologist said it was due to her hair brushing against the aids, and that she would need to get in-ear aids to avoid this problem.  I thought that was odd, given that most people nowadays have over-the-ear aids, and most people have hair.  Surely all those people aren't putting up with annoying crackling sounds all the time.

I know what you mean about the crackle.  Does she wear glasses?  Mine were driving me nuts for the first week banging against the HAs.  I was putting the glasses in such that they sat on top of the HAs.  The audiologist showed me how to fix it.  She also showed me how to fix the hair thing by tweaking the settings.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2019, 06:12:27 PM »
Thanks, Pigeon. 

Funny you should mention your hair covering the aids.  When my wife tried out a pair of over-the-ear aids at the audiologist's office, she kept hearing an annoying crackling sound.  The audiologist said it was due to her hair brushing against the aids, and that she would need to get in-ear aids to avoid this problem.  I thought that was odd, given that most people nowadays have over-the-ear aids, and most people have hair.  Surely all those people aren't putting up with annoying crackling sounds all the time.

I know what you mean about the crackle.  Does she wear glasses?  Mine were driving me nuts for the first week banging against the HAs.  I was putting the glasses in such that they sat on top of the HAs.  The audiologist showed me how to fix it.  She also showed me how to fix the hair thing by tweaking the settings.

Yes, she wears glasses.  I figure there has to be a way to deal with those also, since so many people wear glasses.  Good to know there might be a way to deal with the crackling.  She was not happy with the thought of having to get in-ear aids.

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2019, 02:18:09 PM »
Interesting. I have both hair and glasses, and neither of them makes my behind-the-ear aid crackle. Does she wear her hair short? Mine varies between chin and shoulder-length, so it just kind of flows over the aid.

It's also interesting how much your brain screens out once it adjusts to the aid. My keyboard used to drive me crazy, and now I hardly notice it.

gaja

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2019, 02:31:15 PM »
My husband got hearing aids- he picked the middle price range which I believe was around $3000. He had to go in for several adjustments and he still doesn't hear very well with them. When we go out he tends to turn them off because the restaurants are so loud. And of course,  the batteries need to be changed out every day or so which is a cost.  I don't think he would get them if he could do it all over again.

Daily battery changes? DD has had several different hearing aids growing up, and the battery have always lasted about a week. What model is this?

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2019, 05:56:23 PM »
Interesting. I have both hair and glasses, and neither of them makes my behind-the-ear aid crackle. Does she wear her hair short? Mine varies between chin and shoulder-length, so it just kind of flows over the aid.

It's also interesting how much your brain screens out once it adjusts to the aid. My keyboard used to drive me crazy, and now I hardly notice it.

Yes, her hair is short.  But it's pretty similar to the way a lot of men wear their hair, and I see plenty of guys with over-the-ear aids.

civil4life

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #30 on: March 02, 2019, 07:37:45 PM »
I figured I would share my experience.  I went to an independent audiologist's office, but I have excellent health insurance.  I got the personal experience.  Mine had a 3 year warranty.  I receive free batteries, wax guards, cleaning, and repairs.   Mine were one level above the lowest.  Mine do not have the bells and whistles like bluetooth.  Mine were $1700 each.  My insurance covered all, but $300 for each.  As far as the bells in whistles I would really only suggest them if you have severe loss.  Mine is not very significant.  So they make it easier to hear, but if I do not have them I am still ok.  My dad has severe loss.  He has one that is a bit more high end and being able to connect directly to his cell phone makes a big difference.  In the adjustment period I think I needed at least 3 visits.  It partly depends on how poor your hearing is currently.  They usually turn up the volume over a few visits to adjust better. 

The issue I had was my ear wax never really adjusted and creates a lot of moisture.  My receivers go bad fairly often.  I do have a dehumidifier now that helps, but I still need cleaning/repair 2-3 times a year.

You mentioned tinnitus.  I have the same issue.  My audiologist recommended Widex.  They have a Zen technology which is a mode that plays musical tones that help mask the tinnitus.  I know it sounds like how is this better?  The tones are very soothing and they move into the background.  Plus I believe the tones can impact the brain waves.  I seriously have gotten into a zen state with it on.  I can have them on and answer the phone at work or talk to someone without it being distracting.

As far as visibility.  I have short hair.  I am young for hearing aids (35, but started wearing them at 32).  I went for the opposite.  Instead of trying to mask them, I got bright bold colors (blue and green).  That is the other thing I did not get matching colors.  No matter how close they match your skin tone people are going to notice.


Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #31 on: March 03, 2019, 04:41:27 AM »
Thank you for sharing that information, civil4life.

fuzzy math

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #32 on: March 03, 2019, 07:39:02 AM »
My daughter failed her post surgery hearing exam (one ear only) and I'm looking for anectodes about people who have had long term hearing loss about how long they waited to get a hearing aid. She is refusing one for now, and I'd imagine she will continue to do so well into adulthood. My concern is what will happen when her other ear starts to fail with age.

In short, how old were you when you first started noticing issues, and when did you finally get one?

retiredat58

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #33 on: March 03, 2019, 07:55:50 AM »
Fuzzy math,

I am a late deafened adult,as was my mother. Serious hearing issues in mid 50’s, got my first pair at 59 and am almost 65 now. I put them in first thing in the morning. If not, I hear next to nothing.

civil4life

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #34 on: March 03, 2019, 01:14:56 PM »
My daughter failed her post surgery hearing exam (one ear only) and I'm looking for anectodes about people who have had long term hearing loss about how long they waited to get a hearing aid. She is refusing one for now, and I'd imagine she will continue to do so well into adulthood. My concern is what will happen when her other ear starts to fail with age.

In short, how old were you when you first started noticing issues, and when did you finally get one?

My dad did not get hearing aids until in his 40s.  He has had hearing loss at least my entire life.  I do not believe the lack of a device increases hearing loss.

I have additional relatives that have waited decades to get them.

I think all would say they wish they had done it much sooner.

The impacts are more social related.  Many isolated themselves as things got worse.

The other one is speech.  I think my dad's hearing loss actually started in grade school.  There are many words that he mispronounces.  It is obvious that is from lacking of being able to hear.

Knowing my dad's young age of hearing loss and all of his aunts and uncles needed them.  I knew I was destined to have hearing loss.  I am far beyond vanity.  I had a sudden loss of hearing at 32.  I got them immediately.  For me it definitely makes a difference watching tv and having conversations.  In both I spend less time trying to decipher what words was said and then making sense of the overall meaning.  It may seem subtle but the difficulty is more than you would expect.  The additional processing takes time and energy.  When I no longer had as much struggle the process became more automatic again.

Pigeon

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #35 on: March 03, 2019, 02:06:44 PM »
I had chemo about 13 years ago, and I think my problems really started then.  With so much going on in my life and being very busy, I didn't pay attention, other than to say, "Huh?" more often.  It had gotten to a point where it was really impacting me at work.  I had a very hard time hearing other people in meetings.  I only got the HAs about six weeks or so.  It was a process.  My primary care provider wanted me to see an ENT first, because of the chemo.  Getting in to see them took a long time.   Then I had to see an audiologist, and my insurance, while it has great coverage, took about 6 weeks to authorize them.  Then they work with a company that sells them discount, and they provided them to the audiologist.  The whole process probably took 6 months for me.  I do have good insurance so I shouldn't complain, but I do wish I'd done this years ago.

Noodle

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #36 on: March 03, 2019, 04:15:49 PM »
I started developing serious hearing issues about four years ago--I am in my forties. The first 18 months were figuring out what was going on and how much could be treated medically, a process that involved two different ENTs and a lot of dead ends. Finally, my current ENT told me she had done everything she could, and I should start researching hearing aids. I put it off for eighteen months due to the costs and the experiences of several family members who had not done well with aids--and a certain degree of embarrassment also. But I was missing out on more and more, socially and at work. The last straw was when an author I really like came to town to do a reading and I didn't even bother to get tickets, because I knew in a noisy and crowded bookstore I wouldn't be able to hear.

That was stupid, and I so regret not getting the aids earlier. What I would tell your daughter is that there are big social costs to not being able to hear (and not admitting it). Hearing loss often translates as rudeness or coldness to people who don't know why you're not greeting them or responding when they try to start a conversation. I was really lucky that I had been in my job about five years and was already well-known as pleasant and successful...but I don't seem to have as good a reputation outside my department, and I'm sure part of it was my inability to chat with higher-ups when we met and participate fully in meetings. I had to take other staff members along every time I had to meet with people outside my organization, because foreign language accents (of which we have many in my city) were so difficult for me. If I had been newer, and just trying to build a reputation, I think I could have run into real trouble. I also skipped a lot of social occasions because I knew I wouldn't be able to hear.

My audiologist says that particularly with women, who can style their hair many different ways, that NOT having a hearing aid is way more noticeable than having one, and I think she is right. I actually feel like having the aid has trained my ear a bit--I can actually listen to the TV without captions, even with my aid out, at a lower volume than I used to have to have it at. I also have much less tinnitus than I used to. There is some evidence that the longer you go without aids, the harder it is to relearn hearing speech...but there seems to be a variety of opinions on that finding in the audiology community so take it with a grain of salt.

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #37 on: March 03, 2019, 04:18:31 PM »
You mentioned tinnitus.  I have the same issue.  My audiologist recommended Widex.  They have a Zen technology which is a mode that plays musical tones that help mask the tinnitus.  I know it sounds like how is this better?  The tones are very soothing and they move into the background.  Plus I believe the tones can impact the brain waves.  I seriously have gotten into a zen state with it on.  I can have them on and answer the phone at work or talk to someone without it being distracting.

As far as visibility.  I have short hair.  I am young for hearing aids (35, but started wearing them at 32).  I went for the opposite.  Instead of trying to mask them, I got bright bold colors (blue and green).  That is the other thing I did not get matching colors.  No matter how close they match your skin tone people are going to notice.

Hey, a fellow Widex wearer (most people I run into seem to have either Starkey or Oticon)!  Love the bright colors. Mine only came in various shades of brown. :(

OurFirstFire

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #38 on: March 03, 2019, 04:28:39 PM »
1. Not long ago, Congress passed a law authorizing the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. These are devices that are more sophisticated than the simple devices you are talking about, but less sophisticated than the ones audiologists dispense, and the consumer would do more of their own adjustments, possibly with the help of a smartphone app. As a brand-new type of device, they have not yet hit the market but will be coming soon. So one possibility would be to hold off a bit and see if those types of devices work for your wife.

I believe the Bose Hearphones are one of the first devices in this new regulatory class: https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/wellness/conversation_enhancing_headphones/hearphones.html  Check out their videos of controlling what you hear with the smartphone app - quite impressive!

As someone exploring the possibilities for making an open-source hearing aid I'm curious what people think of this Bose alternative?  It has a lot more processing power than a typical model which is why it has such a different form-factor.  But that processing power should allow some advanced algorithms (i.e. AI for adapting to the environment).  Also it should make battery management easier. 

civil4life

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2019, 06:27:25 AM »
One other thing...Since mine are not skin tone colors many people think they are just headphones of some sort.

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Re: Anyone have experience with "affordable" hearing aids?
« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2019, 03:01:18 PM »
My wife had her evaluation appointment at Costco on Monday.  It was a little weird going to this little modular booth set up along the wall inside a giant warehouse, right next to the pallets full of giant laundry detergent bottles (or something like that).  But once we got past outward appearances, it was a good experience.  The HIS who did the assessment was knowledgeable and helpful.  He programmed a demo pair of the Kirkland aids to match her hearing loss results.  She loved them.  She described them as natural-sounding, without the annoying crackling sounds she was experiencing when she tried the Oticons at the audiologist's office (I suspect that had more to do with the person programming the aids than the brand).

So we bought the Kirkland aids.  They're made by Rexton (formerly Siemens).  Six month trial period, 3 year warranty, 2 year loss/damage warranty, free cleaning and reprogramming for the life of the units.  Total cost was $1,600, so we saved at least $2,400 compared to full-priced aids from an independent audiologist.  We go back in two weeks to pick up the aids.  I'll let you know how that goes.