In my years in the hearing industry I get asked the same few questions all the time. The big question is are you asking the right questions? We as consumers have been trained to ask these questions every time we make a purchase. What is the price? How long is the warranty? Etc. The problem with those questions is your treating buying better hearing like a one time purchase. When you buy a car you will generally never see the salesman again. Unless there is a problem. When picking out a hearing expert/hearing aid you are picking out someone to work with for the next 4-7 years! We are going to see each other multiple times per year for check ups, cleanings, adjustments and to retest your hearing. If you make this decision solely based on price, statistics show your satisfaction and use of the device will be less. Here is what I recommended my friends and family ask instead.
How long has this device been on the market? Technology is changing at a rapid pace. The newest hearing aids are rechargeable, Bluetooth-capable, adjust for wind, background noise and have smart phone apps. All of this changes from one year to another. Sometimes a great deal on a hearing aid is because it is 2-3 years old.
Is this device programed to my specific loss? Lots of hearing devices are being advertised on TV right now. You have to do your homework to know what you’re getting. The “$499 recharge hearing aids” on TV are actually not hearing aids at all. They are amplifiers set to the general 70 years old loss. They require no hearing test, there is no office and no adjustments to your specific loss. You should always have a hearing test preformed before purchasing hearing aids. They are precise medical devices that need to be programed for your loss. You also want to be checked to ensure its not wax or some other medical issue with your ears.
How long is my warranty? What all is covered by the warranty or insurance? Is there a cost for check up when my warranty is up? Warranties on hearing aids can range from 2-5 years. Most companies will replace the devices under a loss and damage policy one time in that same 2-5 years. Find out if checks ups are still covered once the warranty expires. Here at Concept we offer our Free Lifetime Follow-up Care. As long as you own your hearing aid any service we perform in the office is done at no charge.
Are follow up appointments scheduled or am I only allowed to drop off my hearing aids? Many hearing aids companies now will sell you hearing aids and never set a follow up appointment. You are responsible for calling in if you need them. The big box stores only allow drop off service. You can’t set a time to come in. You are asked to walk around the store for a few hours until they can get to it. Here at Concept we have a 97% customer satisfaction rating. Our patients love that they leave each appointment with a set time for their next appointment. All of these appointments are performed face-to-face with your provider while you are wearing the hearing aids so you can hear the changes firsthand.
Does my insurance cover hearing aids? For many years insurance wouldn’t cover hearing aids. Many patients are happy to find out that some Medicare and insurance plans have hearing aid coverage. Be sure you know what you are getting! Lots of insurance plans offer a discount plan through a 3rd party. (EPIC, Tru Hearing, Hear USA, etc) With this you are buying hearing aids from the insurance company, not the hearing care provider. They are only being compensated to fit you with hearing aids and 1-2 additional check ups. You will be responsible to pay for follow up services including testing, pairing devices to your phone, wax guards, domes and others. On average this can be $150-$500 per year. Some Medicare plans are reimbursing you $500 per ear. This allows you to buy from whomever you chose and all follow up care provided at no charge.
How long will my hearing aids last? This is a tricky question, because the hearing aid may physically turn on for 15 years but not really be treating your hearing loss anymore. Technology has really changed over the last 5 to 6 years and folks have been trading their current hearing aids in toward the new rechargeable hearing aids at a rapid pace.
Do I really need Bluetooth technology? The answer is yes and here is why. Your hearing aids now act as your headphones which means any audio from your Android/iPhone goes directly into your hearing aids. How cool is that? There is also a free app that gives you control of your hearing aids (volume, background settings, phone calls). Certain hearing devices also let you send requests to your local provider allowing the provider to make some minor changes to the software without coming to the clinic.