How to Buy a Hearing Aid
Hearing loss affects over 21 million people in the United States. Although the majority of people with hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically treated, hearing aids will benefit many individuals. Given the great number of products and services available to those with hearing loss, it is important to buy the most suitable hearing aid for your particular hearing loss to enjoy maximum benefit.
Do I Need A Hearing Aid?
Hearing loss can affect anyone from birth to old age and can happen for many reasons, including hereditary factors, infection, noise exposure, disease and aging. If you find yourself doing any of the following, you may be suffering from hearing loss and should have your hearing evaluated:
- Frequently complaining that people mumble
- Hearing people speak, but straining to understand their words
- Frequently asking people to repeat or speak louder
- Having family members complain that you play the TV or radio too loudly
- Not hearing the doorbell or the telephone
- Having to look at someone when they talk to you, in order to use visual cues
The Hearing Evaluation
You can get a complete evaluation from any audiologist. An audiologist is qualified by education, training and experience to assist in the evaluation and rehabilitation of those with hearing loss. Most hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or are certified through the American Academy of Audiology.
The audiologist will measure your ability to hear different pitches, as well as your ability to understand speech. An explanation of the type and degree of your hearing loss will then be provided.
Upon completion of the hearing evaluation, the audiologist is capable of providing appropriate recommendations regarding hearing aid usage. Most audiologists have the resources to obtain hearing aids for you, and then subsequently teach you to maximize the benefits of your hearing aids.
The Hearing Aid
For those who have a hearing loss that cannot be treated by medical or surgical means, a hearing aid will generally provide some benefit, allowing you to hear many sounds that you have not heard due to the hearing loss. The newer digital technologies being used in hearing aids have significantly improved sound quality, flexibility and patient satisfaction. However, as with all else that is new to you, a hearing aid takes some getting used to. Therefore, it is important to work closely with the audiologist during the 30-day hearing aid trial period. Remember, hearing aids do not replace the normal working ear.
WHAT KINDS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are several styles of hearing aids:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are placed over the ear and connected with tubing to custom-fitted earpieces.
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fill the entire bowl of the ear and part of the ear canal.
- Smaller versions of ITEs are called half-shell and in-the-canal (ITC).
- The least visible aids are completely-in-the-canal (CIC).
Hearing aid options, which are appropriate for your particular hearing loss and listening needs, the size and shape of your ear and ear canal, and the dexterity of your hands will all be considered in deciding what type of hearing aid is the best for you. Many hearing aids have special telecoil T switches to aid in use of the telephone and certain public sound systems.
Hearing aids will vary in cost depending on where you purchase them. At Tucson ENT Hearing Center, our prices include a two-year warranty and most options. Prices vary depending on size and circuitry. We advise you to see your audiologist for information on available options and specific pricing.
When shopping for hearing aids, it is of utmost importance that one consider product reliability (i.e.: repair rate, warranty, follow-up care), as well as the cost. Hearing aid use requires ongoing care for such things as sound quality and functionality. Our audiologists will provide this care which will maximize hearing aid performance and extend the life of the hearing aid.
The Trial Period
There is a 30-day trial period on all hearing aids purchased through Tucson ENT Hearing Center. A 50% down payment is required when the hearing aids are fitted, with the balance due at the end of the trial period. If you decide to return your hearing aid(s) at the end of the trial period, you will be refunded the 50% down payment, minus a non-refundable fitting fee. The amount of this fitting fee depends on the type of circuitry you elect to try. If you purchase the hearing aids, the fitting fee is included in the price. This fitting fee covers such things as selection of your particular hearing aid, impression materials, follow-up visits, adjustments to the hearing aid, etc.
Will Health Insurance Pay For My Hearing Aid?
Most insurance companies cover the cost of a hearing evaluation. However, hearing aid purchase and hearing aid repairs are usually not covered. It is your responsibility to check with your health insurance company to find out exactly what your particular policy covers. Many insurance companies must provide you with an estimate of what they will pay before the hearing aids are ordered. If you have any questions regarding the above information, or would like to schedule a hearing evaluation with an audiologist, please call:
- Jon Richins, M.C.D., CCC-A
- Stephanie Salcido, M.A., CCC-A
- Kristen Schmidt, M.S., CCC-A
- Abel Smith, M.A., CFY