There's no way around it – hearing aids are expensive. A recent survey published by the Hearing Review found that mid-range hearing aids average around $4,000 a pair and most insurance providers do not cover this cost. The high price tag is often a barrier to getting the help and hearing relief hearing aids provides, but it doesn't have to be. When it comes to cost, there's a lot to consider and keep in mind. Whether new or experienced, hearing aid wearers have many similar questions regarding hearing aid purchase; from how much hearing aids cost to whether or not insurance will cover them.
Hearing aids are an important purchase; these are devices you'll be wearing most hours during the day, seven days a week. When buying hearing aids, it's essential to be sure the money and time spent is well worth it.
How much do hearing aids cost?
As mentioned above, the purchase price of a single hearing aid is generally anywhere from $800 to $4000 per ear, so the total for two hearing aids, as most people require, ranges $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 one to three 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.
Why is there such a large range of pricing for hearing aids?
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 best 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.
Why do hearing aids cost so much?
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 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.
Why not buy 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?
Kochkin and colleagues at the Better Hearing Institute 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:
- 81 percent would repurchase the same brand of hearing aids
- 85 percent were satisfied with how the hearing aids worked in multiple listening environments
- 94 percent would recommend the professional they worked with to a friend
- 99 percent were satisfied with the benefit they received from the hearing aids
- 97 percent would recommend hearing aids to a friend
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:
- 14 percent would repurchase the same brand of hearing aids
- 14 percent were satisfied with how the hearing aids worked in multiple listening environments
- 39 percent would recommend the professional they worked with to a friend
- 12 percent were satisfied with the benefit they received from the hearing aids
- 56 percent would recommend hearing aids to a friend
In a nutshell: 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.
Healthy Hearing answers: Should I buy hearing aids online?
Can I get financial assistance or insurance coverage to help pay for hearing aids?
The most recent data have shown that about 40 percent 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 percent 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 Healthy Hearing's information 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.
Why should I buy hearing aids?
Hearing aid dispensers work in a variety of settings from private practice to medical clinics to universities. Find a practitioner that you are confident can guide you along the journey. It’s also important to look for a practitioner who 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.
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!
Where to purchase hearing aids
It's important to remember hearing aid pricing is only one factor when it comes time to purchasing a device. Your hearing aid purchase should be viewed as a long-term investment. In addition to your device, the price of a hearing aid generally includes fittings, adjustments, maintenance and the chance to establish a relationship with your hearing healthcare professional. So while pricing is important, there are numerous other things to consider before selecting a hearing device. Now that you've established a few guidelines, take a look at the following infographic to figure out the next steps on your path to better hearing!
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.
- Oticon Foundation funds major auditory research project at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, http://www.oticonusa.com/about/about-oticon/news-and-press/2013/06-17-2013-Oticon-Foundation-Funds-Major-Auditory-Research-Project.aspx
- MarkeTrak VIII: The impact of the hearing healthcare professional on hearing aid user success, Better Hearing Institute, http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/marketrak-publications/marketrak-viii-impact-hearing-healthcare-professional-hearing
- MarkeTrak VIII: 25-year trends in the hearing health market, Better Hearing Institute, http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/marketrak-publications/marketrak-viii-25-year-trends-hearing-health-market
- The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income, Better Hearing Institute, http://www.hearing.org/uploadedFiles/Content/impact_of_untreated_hearing_loss_on_income.pdf