When you’re in the market for hearing aids, you tend to focus on two things—the technology you think you need to hear better and price.
Both of those are important issues, but buying hearing aids is far more complex than many other consumer purchases. The decision you make not only impacts how well you hear, but how well you communicate with others and your quality of life, so it’s important to weigh every aspect of such an important choice.
Beyond working with a practice that offers advanced technology and competitive prices, here are four other important things to consider when weighing your options for hearing aids.
- Professional Service—This is probably THE most important aspect of the your journey with hearing aids. Finding a professional who is well-qualified and trusted makes the buying process much smoother for you as a consumer. Be sure you select a professional who has a doctoral-level degree as an audiologist, indicated by the credentials Au.D. or Ph.D. The professional you choose also should be certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and uphold a code of ethics from a professional organization, such as the Academy of Doctors of Audiology.
A doctoral-level audiologist should have the training and expertise to conduct a comprehensive hearing evaluation, interpret the results, and prescribe hearing aids for your specific needs. The audiologist also should offer follow-up visits to adjust your new hearing aids, and to continue to check your hearing for changes. Because your hearing is likely to change over time and you may purchase more than one set of hearing aids in your lifetime, it’s important to establish a relationship with someone who can help you successfully navigate this complex process. Audiologists also are experts in the latest hearing aid technology, and can recommend technology that best meets your specific hearing loss.
- Back-up—When you purchase a new set of hearing aids, you rarely think of all the things that could possibly go wrong, but sometimes hearing aids malfunction and need repairs. Be sure the clinic and professional you choose to work with offers options for urgent repairs, and that loaners are available if your hearing aids need to be returned to the manufacturer for repairs. Associated Audiologists offers Urgent Ear service so that you can be seen in the clinic the same day for possible problems. If your hearing aid cannot be fixed in the clinic and has to be returned to the manufacturer, we offer loaner hearing aids. We also offer curbside drop-off/pick-up for hearing aid repairs by a scheduled appointment, and we have after-hours drop boxes at all our clinics in case you need to leave your hearing aids for service or repairs when the clinic isn’t open.
- Payment Options and Insurance—Find out what your options for payment are up front, before you purchase hearing aids. Medicare does NOT cover the cost of hearing aids, but some insurance plans to offer a benefit to help pay for hearing aids. If you have an insurance benefit that will help cover the cost of hearing aids, be sure to let your audiologist know so that they can investigate your insurance benefits. If insurance won’t help cover the cost of hearing aids, ask about payment options. Many clinics offer discounts for private pay, accept credit cards and offer payment plans, such as Care Credit, a healthcare financing plan. You also can use a health savings account (HSA) to pay for hearing aids or a flexible spending account (FSA), and be sure to keep your receipts for hearing aids because they qualify as a healthcare expense if you itemize medical expenses on your income taxes.
- Loss and Damage Coverage—Most hearing aids have a manufacturer’s warranty that covers defects for a specified period of time, usually for a year to three years. Within that specified period of time, you may have loss and damage coverage.
Because most people wear their hearing aids an average of five to seven years, it’s also a good idea to look into extended coverage. Once your initial coverage is up, it doesn’t cover issues such as your dog eating your hearing aids, leaving your hearing aids on a nightstand in a hotel room, or losing a hearing aid when you remove a face mask and it gets hooked on the ear loops.
To cover these types of losses, be sure to ask your audiologist about additional loss and damage coverage. This can help with the cost of replacing a hearing aid that you lose or that’s damaged. There would likely be a deductible, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the cost of new hearing aids.
Hearing aid manufacturers may offer extended warranty coverage, but third-party insurances also may provide coverage. Or, if you have homeowners or renters’ insurance, you can check with your carrier to see if a personal property rider can be added to your policy for your hearing aids.
For more information about these important issues, talk with your audiologist or schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.