The purchase of hearing aids is a major investment in your health and well-being, and one you should consider carefully.
Often, individuals who are shopping for hearing aids, especially for the first time, don’t realize all the nuances involved in wearing and caring for hearing aids. Below is a list of questions you should ask to be sure you get the best care, service and technology. The answers will help guide you to the best match between you and a practice, and the best hearing aids for your specific hearing loss.
- Are you an audiologist, and what are your qualifications?
Audiologists receive extensive education in hearing and balance disorders. These professionals are now required to have postgraduate doctoral degrees. Look for the initials Au.D., (Doctor of Audiology – clinical degree); or Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy – research and/or clinical research degree); to designate doctoral training.
Many audiologists also have earned a Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology, indicated by the initials CCC-A after their names. This is a voluntary certificate issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Professionals who have been awarded the CCC-A have completed a rigorous academic program, a supervised clinical experience and have passed a national examination.
- How many hearing aid manufacturers do you work with and which ones are they?
Working with a wide selection of manufacturers is important because different manufacturers may have features more suited to one person than another. Also, by working with well-accepted manufacturers, you can have your hearing aids serviced almost anywhere.
Some of the manufacturers you may want to ask about include:
- and Westone
- What is the hearing aid assessment period and return policy?
It’s important to find this out before purchase so that you know how long you have to try a new pair of hearing aids out, and what the re-stocking fees are, if there are any.
- If I am out of town, where else can I have my hearing aids serviced?
This question is key if you travel frequently or spend long periods of time out of the area, such as winters in Florida. Be sure you purchase hearing aids that can be serviced anywhere.
- Does the hearing aid have universal open software (or is it proprietary/locked) so it can be adjusted by another professional?
Big box stores and retail chains sell hearing aid technology that is locked, or proprietary. This means if something goes wrong with your hearing aids, you must return them to the seller for repairs. Independent audiology practices cannot work on these hearing aids.
- How do you handle emergency problems or same-day repairs and do you offer “loaners” if my hearing aids need to be returned to the manufacturer for repair?
A full-service practice should offer a loaner program in the event your hearing aid needs to be sent to the manufacturer for repair, in addition to care for emergent problems, same-day repairs, curbside care and after-hours drop boxes. All these options make it easier for you to get your hearing aids serviced and repaired.
- How do you check or verify that my hearing aids are working as prescribed?
An estimated 20 to 30 percent of hearing-related businesses in the nation use state-of-the-art real-ear technology to verify that your hearing aids are fit according to recommended prescriptions for proper hearing and safety. This is the best way to ensure that your hearing aids are functioning exactly as they should, and that you receive a custom fit.
- Do you accept insurance benefits, and will you check my coverage for me?
Many big box stores or retail chains do not accept health insurance benefits as payment for hearing aids, so be sure to ask about this. Independent practices are more likely to work with insurers and Medicare replacement plans. In addition, staff should be able to investigate your benefit, how to best utilize it, and verify coverage.
- Will you provide me with a price quote, and what type of warranty and service does that quote include?
A reputable audiology practice will provide you with a written estimate of your coverage and will explain warranty and service plan options to you. Today, some clinics include follow-up and service visits in their estimates, while others price their hearing aids and services separate. Be sure to ask if the hearing aids you are purchasing include these important follow-up visits. Sometimes, it can take several visits to adjust hearing aids to the patient’s hearing loss.
- Do you have patient reviews and satisfaction data from patients available?
In today’s digital world, the practice you consult with should have online reviews and comments that can be helpful in selecting an audiologist. Associated Audiologists has more than 600 patient reviews, and 98 percent of our patients would refer a friend or family member to us.