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How Much do Hearing Aids Cost?

It seems like such a simple question, yet the answer is complex and often frustrating! 

Hearing aids are regulated by the FDA as medical devices and are only available from licensed providers.  According to Hearing Tracker, the average price paid for a pair of hearing aids in 2018 was $4,672.  Hearing Aids should not be confused with Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) which are over-the-counter, non-programmable wearable electronic devices that are designed to simply amplify all sounds to improve listening in certain environments and can be purchased without a hearing evaluation. Quite simply, if you can buy the device without needed a hearing test, it’s an amplifier, not a hearing aid.

The cost of hearing aids depends more on where they are bought than any other factor. 

There are equally high-performance hearing aids available at on-line retailers, like EmbraceHearing.com, as there are from local audiologists. An online provider will sell aids at a 50% discount or greater versus a retail audiologist. 

Why are hearing aids so much more expensive at a local Audiologist? 

The cost that you pay at a local hearing aid retailer reflects their costs.  A local audiologist has fewer customers but leases retail space and needs to keep staff on hand, no matter how busy they are.  These costs are all included in the mark-ups on the aids – few customers means high mark ups.  Online retailers have far more customers and do not need to have these expensive retail operations and typically offer a limited product line purchased with high volume discounts.  These cost savings are passed onto their customers and result in much lower prices.

How do I compare hearing aids?

All the worlds premium hearing aids are built by one of the world’s 5 leading hearing aid companies (Sonova, Sivantos, William Demant, GN ReSound or Starkey) and are custom programmed to meet each individual patient’s hearing challenge as determined by a hearing test completed by a licensed professional, in sound proof room with licensed and calibrated equipment.  

Ask each hearing aid provider to explain the following features to you as you shop for your aids:

  • Will the aids be custom programmed for your hearing test? The hearing aid market is changing and not every provider will custom-program hearing aids to your specific hearing profile.

  • Will the hearing aids adjust automatically to meet changing your hearing needs?  The best hearing aids self-adjust automatically over-time and to the environment around you. For example, if you move from a quiet car into a noisy restaurant the hearing aids will detect the change in background noise and adjust for it automatically - without the need to change programs. You can still do this manually, but you shouldn’t have to.

  • How many programmable bands or channels? A processing channel is a band that covers a range of sound frequencies. The amplification within each channel is set by the audiologist to meet the specific needs defined by the user’s hearing test. A lower end model might have four to eight channels while higher end models will have 16 - 20. Beware - some budget hearing aids claim to offer 40 or even 120 channels but data shows that beyond 20 channels your brain can’t tell the difference - and audiologists will only program up to 24 channels.  

  • What other features do the aids have? Check for Dual Directional Microphones, “Receiver-in-canal”, wind-blocking software, BlueTooth capability and battery options.

  • Service and Adjustments: No matter where you buy your aids, you should ensure that the you will get excellent customer support. If possible, check reviews of both the manufacturer and the hearing aid provider. Many online retailers offer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week customer service with no appointment needed.  At local audiologists this service will be available nearby, but you will have to book appointments several days in advance.

  • Trial Period, Warranty and Return Fees: Make sure that you understand the details of the sale. How long is the trial period and the warranty?  What fees will you be charged if you choose to return the aids or require adjustments. Some companies like embracehearing.com give you 100% of your money back. Others will charge you $400 or more if you return.

Once you have this information, it should be easier to compare all your options and find the best hearing aids for your needs.  You want to select the best device for your comfort, lifestyle and budget.

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