12 Key Questions to Ask When Shopping for Hearing Aids

If you’re in the market for hearing aids, you’ve probably discovered that there are a number of options for you choose from, whether you’re looking at prescription hearing aids or over-the-counter devices.

Because this can be a significant purchase related to your health and well-being, it’s important to have your hearing evaluated by a professional, and take their recommendations seriously. But who is the best professional to guide you along your journey to better hearing?

Here are 12 questions Associated Audiologists recommends you ask along the way to ensure you have the best prescription hearing aid shopping experience possible.

1. Are you an audiologist?

In most cases, a doctoral-level audiologist is the best professional to help you. This professional can perform a diagnostic hearing evaluation and can thoroughly discuss your symptoms, medical history, and any other concerns you may have. Depending on your hearing loss symptoms and case history, an audiologist may perform several different tests in a sound-proof booth.

2. What are your qualifications?

An audiologist has earned a doctoral-level degree, performing an externship during their final year of study and specializing in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Hearing instrument specialists also can diagnose and treat hearing loss after having passed an examination, but they have a much more limited scope of practice.

3. How many hearing aid manufacturers do you work with?

Work with an audiologist who can give you options specific to you and your lifestyle. Your audiologist should be able to choose from a variety of prescription hearing aids from a number of respected manufacturers. Franchise or “chain” stores often do not provide this flexibility for consumers.

4. Which hearing aid manufacturer do you prefer and why?

Even if a practice offers several different hearing aid brands, they may find that patients are happier with certain brands and features. Franchises may only offer one brand because that is their only option.

5. What is the hearing aid assessment period and return policy?

All practices selling prescription hearing aids in the state of Kansas must offer a 30-day trial period during which the hearing aid fee is refundable less a minimum non-refundable amount, if
the device isn’t satisfactory. Be sure to clarify this with the practice you choose so there are no surprises.

6. If I am out of town, where else can I have my hearing aids serviced?

Some hearing aids, such as those sold at Costco, can only be serviced by the company that sold them. Independent practices that offer hearing aids from several different manufacturers usually offer hearing aids that use universal/open software so that they can be adjusted by another professional.

7. How do you handle emergencies or same-day repairs?

Some practices have special days/times when patients can bring their hearing aids in for same-day repairs, or they may offer a drop-box for after hours. Because we know that you depend on
your hearing aids to communicate, Associated Audiologists offers both.

8. Do you offer “loaners” if my hearing aids need to be sent to the manufacturer for repair?

If your hearing aids can’t be repaired in the clinic, some practices make loaner hearing aids available while the patient’s hearing aids are returned to the manufacturer for repair.

9. How do you check or verify that my hearing aids are working as prescribed?

Ask your audiologist if they use specialized diagnostic and verification equipment, including real-ear probe microphone and speech mapping measures. These sophisticated tests independently verify how the prescription hearing aid functions while in your ear, and ensure you aren’t getting over-amplified.

10. Do you accept insurance benefits and can I get a quote?

Be sure to check your insurance benefits with the practice you choose to work with and ask that they verify your coverage. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but some insurance plans do. However, coverage varies widely. To be sure there are no surprises, the practice should provide you with a “good faith estimate.”

11. Do you have patient reviews and satisfaction data from patients available?

Check the practice’s reviews, not just on their website, but on other reputable sites, such as Google. Practices should have multiple reviews, if not hundreds, posted regarding patients’ experiences and ratings.

12. How much do prescription hearing aids typically cost?

There are significant differences across hearing aid technology. A hearing aid uses tiny computer chips to process sound. More sophisticated computer chips have better processing which help make it easier for you to hear and understand in all situations. Typically, the cost of prescription hearing aids is $1,500-$6,400 a pair, depending on the sophistication of technology purchased. Prescription hearing aids also can be sold as individual units. The length of time or amount of the professional hearing aid-related services also can affect purchase price.

To be sure you have the best experience possible with hearing aids, schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.