Author Topic: Purchasing Hearing Aids  (Read 2733 times)

Noodle

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Purchasing Hearing Aids
« on: June 17, 2017, 11:14:57 AM »
I am currently in the process of acquiring hearing aids and discovering that they are basically Mustachian kryptonite...insanely expensive, hard to research, difficult to DIY :). On the other hand, it is absolutely mindblowing what can be done with current technology--thank you smartphones for advances in miniaturizing digital audio!

One of the challenges I had was that the market for hearing aids seems to mostly be either children who have worn aids all their lives, or senior citizens with age-related losses. It was very difficult to find information that was helpful to a working adult. (I have a great audiologist but of course did not get her expertise until fairly late in the process.) Although I am just a beginner at using an aid, I am happy to help anyone who may find themselves in the same situation and I'm sure we have other hearing aid users/family members on the boards.

One recommendation I do have--even if an insurance plan (like most of them) doesn't cover hearing aids, check to see if they offer a discount purchase plan. I was skeptical at first, but ended up using one and it saved me quite a bit of money on both the aids and the batteries, and had better terms than the audiologist's standard contract in terms of returns, trial periods, etc.


Pigeon

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 04:05:17 PM »
Posting to follow.  I need them, but having done a little preliminary research, I'm blown away at how expensive they seem and how dissatisfied everyone I know who has them seems to be with them.  I just keep putting it off, but I should start getting serious about them

Noodle

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2017, 11:02:54 PM »
There's no getting around the fact that digital aids are really expensive, and the rather opaque way they are sold doesn't help. There's a bill right now in Congress to allow for over-the-counter aids...ie, ones that are simpler and don't need an audiologist to prescribe them.

I do think that one reason people are dissatisfied with their aids because they think of them as being like glasses...you put them on and bang, great vision again.. I can still remember being able to see leaves on the trees after I got my first pair. Hearing aids don't work that way, because hearing is so complicated. You should be able to hear better with the aids than without them (or why bother?) but it's not going to exactly replicate unaided hearing. The other common issue is that people don't use them correctly. Hearing aids have to be in all the time when you're awake, and the first 1-2 weeks are miserable no matter what, because your brain has to relearn how to screen out all the background noise that you haven't been hearing. It's not uncommon for people to give up partway through the process and then say that their hearing aids don't work.

If you're not sure about the benefits of spending so much money...in my state it's legally required to take hearing aids back in the first 30 days, and I believe that's pretty standard (I got a 60 day trial through my discount program). You can give it a try, and if you don't think it's worth the money a month in, return them and try something cheaper (or start with a less expensive version and work your way up). You have to go back to the audiologist multiple times in the first couple months anyhow, so it's not extra trouble to do a return. I'm actually exchanging hardware myself next week.

Dicey

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2017, 01:14:45 AM »
Costco seems to have a good reputation...
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Dee18

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2017, 06:11:12 AM »
I am another working adult needing a hearing aid due to early hearing loss for no identfiable reason.  It has come as quite a shock.  Do you have any brand suggestions or advice for choosing one?

ejacobson

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2017, 06:21:32 AM »
I am not an expert on these but I had good luck with "personal amplification device" from LifeEar. It helped my moderate hearing loss. Only four basic settings (basically amplifying everything vs filtering noises, and a few others) along with amplification control. Nothing fancy but for the money it was a good deal for me.

Noodle

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2017, 07:17:57 AM »
I am another working adult needing a hearing aid due to early hearing loss for no identfiable reason.  It has come as quite a shock.  Do you have any brand suggestions or advice for choosing one?

I would actually shop for the audiologist over the brand! Hearing correction is a combination of your particular hearing loss, your hardware, and the way the audiologist fits them. As a layperson, it's pretty hard to tell what brand would work best for your hearing--it's sort of like buying a car--most of the major auto manufacturers produce excellent vehicles that get you around safely, so the choice of a particular make and model is about what features you like best. But you absolutely can shop for an audiologist by looking at online reviews, asking around, etc. You want someone who will take their time, listen to what you have to say, take any financial constraints into consideration, and probably someone who has a doctorate in audiology (at least for the first set of aids). Then a good audiologist should be able to recommend a good make and model for you to try, and alternatives if you don't care for the first set (and a realistic assessment about whether your issues are related to the aid or the hearing loss). Also, my recommendation is to pick an audiologist who is convenient to get to, because there's a lot of schlepping back and forth in the early part of the process.

Fire2025

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2017, 08:04:22 AM »
I'm also a hearing aid wearer, got mine at 42 and should have gotten them years earlier.  Yes they are crazy wicked expensive and they are the best thing I have ever bought.  There were so many situations where I just had to sit and smile at people, because I couldn't understand a word they were saying.  Now I'm back in the conversation, truly wonderful.

Posting to follow.  I need them, but having done a little preliminary research, I'm blown away at how expensive they seem and how dissatisfied everyone I know who has them seems to be with them.  I just keep putting it off, but I should start getting serious about them

You should know that aids help stop hearing loss, so it is important to get them in your ears. 

The other common issue is that people don't use them correctly. Hearing aids have to be in all the time when you're awake, and the first 1-2 weeks are miserable no matter what, because your brain has to relearn how to screen out all the background noise that you haven't been hearing. It's not uncommon for people to give up partway through the process and then say that their hearing aids don't work.

Completely agree with all of the above.  I had to have my audiologist turn them down by half, then go back after a month and have them turned up a quarter and repeat until I was at the full "volume", not the right word, but you get what I'm saying I hope.

I'm also shocked at the amount of people who have hearing aids and don't know they can have noise canceling settings, these are a life saver.  I have 5 settings I control with a button on one of my hearing aids.  And mine are the bargain basement model.  The fancy ones you can control with your smartphone.

Make sure you really talk to your audiologist about all your options and things your hearing aids can do and how they can program then, they can do a lot!!!  It doesn't need to be just volume up and down.


Noodle

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2017, 08:06:00 AM »
Costco seems to have a good reputation...

I looked into Costco myself! Personally, I decided to go with an independent audiologist for the first set of aids, because I have a tricky fit with severe hearing loss and they don't sell the solution I wanted to try first. No surprise, they make their money by focusing on the most commonly needed types of hearing aids so they don't have the full range of options available. Also, parking there is like a war zone :).

At one time, Costco didn't have audiologists (with the highest level of training) on staff, and they tended to sell older technology. Apparently that is not true nowadays, and they sell the next-to-latest generation of technology. I would definitely consider them for a later set, now that I know more about what works for me.

Noodle

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2017, 08:17:44 AM »
Make sure you really talk to your audiologist about all your options and things your hearing aids can do and how they can program then, they can do a lot!!!  It doesn't need to be just volume up and down.

This is so true. I have a music setting which is amazingly different from the "universal" setting. I switch back and forth all the time. I am also interested in the telecoil aspect because my church has a hearing loop but we haven't gotten that to work right yet.

Spork

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2017, 09:49:17 AM »
following.  I have mild hearing loss... but every single person I've ever talked to that had  hearing aids was hugely disappointed in them.  It sounds like some folks here have actually had better experiences.
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Fire2025

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2017, 10:43:42 AM »
Just thought of another thing that can make your life easier, especially when you first get them.  Have your audiologist turn down the super up close adjustment.  This is how you hear yourself. 

The only person I know who likes the standard setting is a singer who loves being able to hear her own voice better when she sings.

Rural

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2017, 02:14:33 PM »
My father has been pretty happy with his from Costco, bought a couple of years ago.


I've also read, when I was researching them, that it may well cost less to fly to Europe, get hearing aids there at full no-insurance price, and fly back, than to get them here. Hearing aids for less plus a "free" vacation. It's been a couple of years, but worth looking into.

gaja

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2017, 03:26:21 PM »
My father has been pretty happy with his from Costco, bought a couple of years ago.

I've also read, when I was researching them, that it may well cost less to fly to Europe, get hearing aids there at full no-insurance price, and fly back, than to get them here. Hearing aids for less plus a "free" vacation. It's been a couple of years, but worth looking into.
If hearing aids are included in the US rules against negotiating prices on medicine, it might be true. But it won't work in the countries like Norway, where inhabitants can get free aids at the hospital, since that kind of destroys the commercial market. I don't know if you, as a foreigner, can get access to price negotiated hearing aids in places like Sweden? Those are generally not the fanciest ones, but they are good enough for most people, and they cost a few hundred USD for a set. What are the normal prices in the US? Maybe they can be compared to the UK, where it seems like they have a larger commercial market despite the NHS? https://www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing

We have a couple of old sets from when the kid was 4 laying around, if someone wants to try out some nice bright pink or red ones? Phonak microSavia Art, with telespool, but I'm not certain where the remote is anymore. It might be possible to get a new one from Phonak, but I haven't bothered to check. She uses the Phonak Ambra Micro p now, where the telespool switch is a button on the aid. It has a stronger sound, and slightly less background noise than the microSavia. We are in dialogue with the hospital about getting new ones - we would like some that are better adapted to phones, there are some that can be adapted to an iPhone setting and maybe make it possible for her to get the sound directly from the phone. Also, it would be nice to have waterproof hearing aids for swimming.
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HipGnosis

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2017, 06:06:06 PM »
I read a while back that someone (or was it some group) that was helping the needy found that hunting aids are a very economical substitution for hearing aids.  They are called hunting hearing enhancers or hearing amplifiers.  They come with a wide variety of features (and therefore prices).

Pigeon

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2017, 06:24:42 AM »
Quote
You should know that aids help stop hearing loss, so it is important to get them in your ears.


I am curious about this statement.  I asked my PCP this once and she said hearing aids do nothing to slow the progression of hearing loss, and Dr. Google seems to agree. 

Fire2025

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2017, 08:00:54 AM »
Quote
You should know that aids help stop hearing loss, so it is important to get them in your ears.


I am curious about this statement.  I asked my PCP this once and she said hearing aids do nothing to slow the progression of hearing loss, and Dr. Google seems to agree.

Both of my audiologist have mentioned this to me.  I guess they could be lying to me or I may not have understood what they were telling me.

Noodle

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2017, 08:35:53 AM »
Quote
You should know that aids help stop hearing loss, so it is important to get them in your ears.


I am curious about this statement.  I asked my PCP this once and she said hearing aids do nothing to slow the progression of hearing loss, and Dr. Google seems to agree.

My understanding is that the idea is not that hearing aids slow the loss of hearing, but that if you go a long time without them, your brain gradually forgets how to process speech, and that it is very difficult if not impossible to regain that ability. I made a comment to my audiologist about how it must be extra work fitting a younger person who is very active and has a lot of different hearing needs over an older person with a quieter lifestyle, and she said that she found it more difficult to fit someone who had gone many years without an aid and couldn't relearn hearing. So I think there is something to it,  but there doesn't appear to be any consensus as to what level of hearing loss is involved or how long it takes. I get the feeling it's sort of become conventional wisdom of the field and not necessarily applied as the original research intended.

MerryMcQ

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2017, 09:22:14 PM »
Check if you can qualify for a BAHA or Cochlear implant. I lost my hearing as an adult. After having hearing aids for a few years, I got an implant. OMG, the difference is amazing. My insurance covered the surgery and implant costs.

I hated the discomfort of hearing aids. Nothing my audiologist or ENT could do fixed the pain and irritation of wearing them. The implant has SO MUCH  better sound quality and no annoying stuff in my ears. If you have severe hearing loss, you may be a candidate.

Love my Cochlear!!!!!!!

Noodle

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2017, 10:02:28 AM »
If you have the opportunity to get a hearing aid that pairs with a smartphone, TRY IT. Just got mine today and it is amazing. Music sounds better than it has for years, and I can actually listen to podcasts in the car and talk on the phone without holding it at weird angles or getting feedback or an echo from my voice.

msanne

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2017, 09:35:13 PM »
I'm the mom of a child who wears aides.  I would recommend Costco as far as the pricing goes.  We aren't able to use their services as they don't have  pediatric audiologists but will be using them as soon as he is 18. Many hearing impaired that we are acquainted with are very pleased with the products and prices there.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Purchasing Hearing Aids
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2017, 12:54:15 AM »
Posting to follow.    Status: I choose hearing impaired parents.   A slight decrease in hearing since birth means I'm now in the cohort that needs hearing aids.    This is my first public admission that I know I'll get hearing aids sometime.