There's no way around it – hearing aids are expensive. They can range from just shy of $1000 on up to more than $4000 for each device depending on the level of technology. Most people with hearing loss need two hearing aids, and most insurance providers do not cover this cost. The high price tag is often a barrier to getting the help and relief hearing aids provide, but it doesn't have to be. When it comes to cost, there's a lot to consider.
Hearing aids are an important investment; these are devices you'll be wearing most of your waking hours, seven days a week. When buying hearing aids, it's essential to be sure the money and time spent is well worth it.
What is included in hearing aid cost?
While hearing aid prices are high, it’s important to know that you are paying for far more than just the devices themselves. 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.
Your purchase typically includes the hearing test, consultation, initial fitting, and all follow-up adjustments, routine cleanings and a 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 a hearing aid. Some hearing care professionals also include a supply of hearing aid batteries to get you started.
Factors for hearing aid prices
The main factor that affects the purchase price of the hearing aid is the technology level and features included. As is true with most consumer electronics, technological sophistication gets less expensive over time, and this has certainly happened in the hearing aid business. While the overall prices of hearing aids have remained steady, the technology you can get for the price is far greater currently than it was even just two years ago. What was once considered a top-of-the-line hearing aid is now considered basic technology.
All hearing aid manufacturers strive to offer devices that meet the needs of patients and their budgets. To do this, nearly every product line consists of multiple performance levels or price points. The most advanced level will contain all of the latest and greatest features like the most advanced noise reduction circuitry and wireless capabilities. Lower performance levels will contain fewer and less sophisticated features as the price decreases.
Why do hearing aids cost so much?
Hearing aid pricing includes the cost of the device itself as well as the services of the professional.
Some 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. These investments have led to hearing aids that serve people better.
When you purchase a hearing aid, the price often includes all of the professional services that go along with the fitting. Your hearing ability may change, your hearing aid may need repair and you may have questions occasionally. 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. If your hearing aids cost $4800, and they have a life expectancy of five years, they will cost you $960 per year, $80 per month or $2.66 per day. In other words, while the total amount is 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 you get from wearing hearing aids, most people agree that it is well worth it.
Online and mail order hearing aids
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” available 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.
Healthy Hearing answers: Should I buy hearing aids online?
Financial assistance and insurance coverage
The most recent data have shown that about 40 percent of Americans 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, credit cards and same-as-cash financing plans 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?
When deciding whether or not to spend your hard-earned money on hearing aids, consider too the financial impact of not spending that money on hearing aids. It is nearly impossible to put a price on the missed conversations with your spouse, family, friends and colleagues. Also missing if you have hearing loss are some of the beautiful and important sounds of life: the laughter of your grandchildren, cheerful bird songs, raindrops falling softly outside your window, your doorbell, the car’s turn signal and the timer on your oven.
If you are still working, you are also losing money due to your hearing loss. A study by the Better Hearing Institute looked at more than 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 wearing hearing aids can mitigate the effects of that by 50%. That’s a good return on your investment.
Finally, untreated hearing loss is linked to other health conditions such as dementia, depression, high blood pressure and increased risk of trips and falls. It's even been shown that untreated hearing loss results in higher overall healthcare costs.
Buying hearing aids is an important investment in your quality of life, working career, relationships and overall health. The right hearing care professional, like one of those from our consumer-reviewed directory, will understand your hearing loss as well as your financial situation. They are well-equipped to work with all types of budgets by offering products in the appropriate price range that will suit your needs. Don't put off this important step in your quality of life. Check out our directory and make the call today.