Healthy Hearing is visited by millions of users a year and one of our most popular topics is the “economics” of hearing aid prices and costs. Whether new or experienced, hearing aid wearers have many similar questions regarding hearing aid purchases:
These are all very fair questions, as a hearing aid is a significant investment. Buying a hearing aid is more than just an investment in the purchase price of the device but also in the time you will spend wearing the device, as you wear hearing aids all day long, seven days a week. You want to be sure that the money and time spent is well worth it. This discussion of hearing aid prices is broken down into several parts to address the questions above. Some of them will need to be discussed in more depth and so we have provided additional links to other pages with more information where appropriate. We have also provided several tips to give you the extra advice you need when making this decision.
The purchase price of a hearing aid is generally anywhere from $800 to $4000 per ear so the total for two hearing aids, as most people have two ears, would be from $1600 to $8000. The price of a hearing aid typically includes the cost of the hearing examination, the device consultation and fitting time (including post-fitting adjustments), follow-up appointments,cleanings and a device warranty that can range from 1-3 years. The warranty often covers all repairs and includes a one-time replacement policy if you lose the hearing aid during the first year. The price may also include a year’s worth of hearing aid batteries.
Tip: There are often many services included in the price of a hearing aid. Ask your hearing care professional what is included so you fully understand what you are purchasing.
Hearing aid pricing includes the cost of the device itself as well as the services from the professional.
Much of the cost in manufacturing hearing aids is from the research needed to continue making technology advancements each year. Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by the industry to improve how these devices perform. This investment back into research ultimately benefits the person with hearing loss.
When you purchase a hearing aid, the price often includes all of the professional services that go along with the fitting. Fitting hearing aids is a process that begins with a hearing evaluation and continues throughout the lifetime of the hearing aid. Your hearing ability may change, your hearing aid may need repair and you may have questions from time to time that you need answered. You are making an investment in the professional, as well as the hearing aid technology.
Here’s another way to think about the price of hearing aids. An average pair of hearing aids is $4800 and they have a life expectancy of about five years. If you break it down, the hearing aids will cost you $960 per year, $80 per month or $2.66 per day. In other words, while the initial amount sounds high, the ongoing usage price is reasonable. Monthly, it is about what you would pay to get satellite or cable television. Daily, it’s less than the cost of a large mocha at your favorite coffee shop. When you consider the communication, relationship and health benefits that you get from wearing a hearing aid, most people agree that it is well worth it.
Tip: A hearing aid fitting is a long-term relationship with the professional from whom you purchase the devices. Research them and then take note of their interactions with you when you call for an appointment and visit their office. Do they answer all of your questions? Are you satisfied with the service? If not, find another hearing center to visit.
There are two main factors that affect the purchase price of the hearing aid: the style of the hearing aid and the technology of the hearing aid.
The hearing aid style can range from devices that are small enough to fit completely in your ear canal or discreetly tuck behind your ear to larger devices that sit on top of the ear or fill up the outer part of the ear canal. Generally speaking, the smaller custom devices are the most expensive because of the labor and precision required to create them in the exact shape of your ear canal.
All hearing aids have a basic level of sound processing technology that will automatically adjust for sound coming in and account for your hearing loss. The more advanced hearing aids have the most advanced technologies available for feedback reduction, hearing in noise solutions, wireless capabilities and other features to improve the listening experience. Generally speaking, the more advanced the technology in a hearing aid, the more expensive the device.
When you combine the user need for advanced technology in the smallest custom sizes, you will see prices along the higher range, and vice versa.
Tip: Learn about hearing aid styles and technology options before you visit your hearing care provider. This will enable you to have a better conversation with your provider during your hearing aid evaluation, thus helping you work together to find the best hearing solution in a quicker manner.
Why not buy cheap hearing devices online or through mail order?
You can purchase a lot of things cheaply online, including a ministry ordination and a medical degree. If you have a mild hearing loss, you may be tempted to buy a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) from a website. This product is similar to the eyeglass “cheaters” that you can buy at a corner drugstore. Unlike the glasses, which are easy to set up and adjust, hearing devices require some initial programming to fit your loss. The thing you don’t usually get with online hearing devices is a professional fitting. If you needed a hip replacement, would you order the parts online and try to place them yourself?
One key to getting a good hearing aid fit is to select a skilled provider. Kochkin and colleagues surveyed more than 2000 hearing aid users about their fitting experience and level of satisfaction. The outcome was straightforward: those users who were fitted using a clinically validated hearing aid fitting protocol had greater satisfaction with their hearing aids. In other words, those patients who were given appropriate support and service by a licensed hearing aid professional actually heard better!
Another finding from Kochkin's research was that a typical hearing aid user will need about three visits after purchase to get a hearing device properly adjusted, and some wearers will need more. You will not be able to get that type of service through the mail.
Specifically, of those hearing aid users who received a comprehensive clinical protocol:
Alternatively, when an incomplete fitting and adjustment method is used, such as what might be offered to those who order hearing aids from the internet:
When hearing aids are fit with an appropriate, comprehensive protocol from a hearing care professional, you get more satisfaction and benefit from the hearing aids and you want to tell more of your friends about it. When hearing aids are fit with a minimal fitting protocol, you get less satisfaction and benefit from the hearing aids and you tell fewer people about it. In other words, you get what you pay for.
Tip: Although you can buy cheap devices online, you will most likely need a professional fitting to achieve the greatest benefit. Be sure to consider the hearing aid features and the service package when you look at the cost of the hearing aid. What are you really getting when you purchase online?
Can I get financial assistance or insurance coverage to help pay for hearing aids?
The most recent data have shown that about 40% of persons in the United States have some form of third party payment that helps to pay for hearing aids. Check with your insurance provider to see if you have a benefit and if so, the amount of that benefit. Most plans that include hearing aids cover only a certain amount of the aids (on average about 85% of the cost) every few years. If you have a served in the US military, you might be eligible for hearing aids through the Veteran’s Administration (VA). When you qualify, the VA normally pays for everything associated with the hearing aid, including a supply of batteries. There are other options for hearing aid funding, including low-interest loans for medical devices.
Review our Hearing Help pages on Hearing Aid Insurance, Medicare, AARP and the Veteran’s Administration for more information. Then talk with your hearing care provider about your options for financing and coverage. There may be local charities or sources of financing that will apply to your situation.
Tip: There are funding sources out there for hearing aids. Take the time to research and see if you have any options available.
How do I get the most out of my hearing aid investment?
A reporter for the New York Times wrote an article about the process she went through when selecting a new pair of hearing aids. The reporter was seeking the cheapest solution available. In the end, she seemed frustrated and confused. At one point she wrote, “After seven or so visits, I was beginning to believe the adage, ‘You get what you pay for.’”
Hearing aid dispensers work in a variety of settings--from private practice to medical clinics to universities. As previously mentioned, you’ll want to find a practitioner that you are confident can guide you along the journey. It’s also important to look for a practitioner that is geographically close to you and easy to access. The directory on our site includes clinic descriptions, staff biographies and patient reviews to help you find the right hearing center for you.
It is noted above that a hearing aid costs about $2.66 per day, about the cost of a fancy coffee. Another thing to consider is the financial impact of not spending that money on hearing aids. It is hard enough to put a price on the missed conversations with your spouse or the sounds you enjoy. However, if you are still working, you are losing money due to your hearing loss. A study by the Better Hearing Institute looked at over 40,000 households and found that untreated hearing loss reduced income on average by $12,000 per year and on the high end, up to $30,000 a year. The good news is that the use of hearing aids was shown to mitigate the effects of that by 50%. Not a bad return on investment.
Most importantly, if you want to get the most out of your investment, you need to wear the hearing aids every day. The first few days will be long and tiring but your brain will quickly adjust to the new stimulation if you let it. Once you muster through the first week, you’ll be well on your way to hearing aid success!
Tip: To get the best return on investment, you must wear the hearing aids!
The Hearing Aid Buck Stops Here
Understanding hearing aid pricing and costs can be complicated. We hope you found this article helpful in answering some basic questions so that when you contact hearing care provider you will be better prepared. If you need to find a licensed hearing care practitioner in your area, be sure to use the Healthy Hearing Find A Professional section. It is as easy as entering your zip code to find the most information anywhere about hearing clinics in the US.
This content was last reviewed on: July 24th, 2013