This is a new topic in the world of hearing aids. There is a whole new world out there offering you hearing aids at a price “too good to be true.” You will now see hearing aids sold online and even offered through your insurance company. This new process for obtaining hearing aids is not without a significant set of issues. First, you need to make certain you do not have a hearing loss that needs medical attention. It is important to understand that online aids are not able to be fine-tuned to meet your specific environmental needs. Do you sing in a choir, go hiking in the wind or are you a birder? All of the “special” activities you engage in will require sound modification in the hearing aids.
When you purchase hearing aids online or from other sources outside of your living area, you must be careful about the level of technology you are actually getting. Do they advertise features that are not really in the device? Some companies are offering hearing aids with entry level circuitry with no ability to upgrade. An entry level circuit may be adequate for that individual who lives alone, does not leave the house very often and is rarely in a noisy environment. The average individual needing hearing aids has a full array of listening environments such as at the grocery store, church, meetings, restaurants and family gatherings.
Online Hearing Aid Purchases
Online hearing aids may sport a great price, but remember that price is typically for a device only. The programming, repairs, upkeep and cleaning may not be included when the price is too good to be real. Hearing aids can be high maintenance and will need to have someone check to keep the sound quality good by cleaning them and making sure the ear canals are clear. The hearing aid sound needs to be changed as your hearing changes. Be prepared to purchase service and upkeep from a local audiologist if you choose an internet hearing aid. There may not be an audiologist who has the software to make the modifications you need as your hearing changes or to make the sound more comfortable for you. Another option is to ask your audiologist if he or she can offer a total package for a similar model hearing aid with the service and adjustments at a comparable price.
Hearing Aids Through Insurance Companies
Before you select a particular insurance supplement based on the fact that it offers a hearing aid benefit, research the actual benefit, the hearing aid make and model and ask how the hearing aid will be maintained for any damage and all the necessary adjustments to the sound. Realize that if the sound quality does not meet your needs, you are limited to the skills of the technician to whom you mail the aid. That individual has not established a personal relationship with you and will change the settings based on a flow sheet that the industry has provided. If you don’t like the new settings or the hearing aids hurt your ears, you have to mail the aids back again and again.
Some insurance companies offer hearing aids to the consumer with various levels of technology. The consumer sees an audiologist to complete an evaluation and assist the consumer in selecting a certain level of technology. The consumer pays the insurance company for the hearing aids. The audiologist is paid a flat rate by the insurance company for the fitting and initial adjustment of the hearing aids. The subsequent adjustments could take three to five visits, are to be paid by the person wearing the aids. There are also insurance plans that offer a flat rate toward the purchase of hearing aids. The difference in actual price of the hearing aids is paid to the audiologist by the consumer.
Ask Your Local Audiologist
Another option is to make an appointment with a local audiologist and ask for advice on hearing aids offered through the plan on which you are focusing. The audiologist may be able to offer suggestions to reduce your risk of being saddled with hearing aids with which you may not be happy. You may be able to see if that audiologist carries a hearing aid with similar technology at a competitive price. If so, you will get hearing aids and the ongoing service that you will need with a person you can see and talk to! Remember, hearing changes. You wear the hearing aids every day and expose them to moisture, heat, wax and the potential of physical damage; you need an ongoing professional team to help you with your hearing health! QCBN
By Dr. Karon Lynn, Au.D.