Buying Prescription or Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids

Purchasing prescription or over-the-counter hearing aids can be overwhelming. With so many offers and providers in the marketplace, it’s tough to know what to do. Associated Audiologists offers you the following tips to help find the right provider and right technology for you.

1. Find the Right Doctoral-Level Hearing Aid Provider

Whether you are looking for prescription or OTC hearing aids, find the right provider and begin with a comprehensive hearing evaluation, which is the “blueprint” for your individualized recommendations. Ninety percent of your success with hearing aids is related to the professional you work with. At Associated Audiologists, our doctoral-level audiologists have received extensive education in hearing, hearing aids, tinnitus and balance disorders.

2. Select Options Specific to Your Lifestyle

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 hearing aids from  a number of respected manufacturers. Franchise or “chain” stores often do not provide this flexibility for consumers. Hearing aids purchased from these providers usually cannot be re-programmed by other professionals due to the limited brand of technology used and locked software.

3. Understand That Hearing Aid Technology Varies

There are significant differences across hearing aid technology, especially between prescription and OTC hearing aids. A hearing aid uses a tiny computer chip to process sound. More sophisticated computer chips have better processing, which results in improved satisfaction and performance. Costs start at $1,500 a pair ($750 each) for prescription hearing aids that can be customized to your specific needs, and vary, depending upon the level of technology and professional services included with your purchase. Advanced technology with enhanced features will cost more than simpler technology and will perform better in more demanding listening environments, like noisy situations.

4. Insist on the Industry’s Highest Standard of Care

Your audiologist should use specialized testing and verification equipment, including real-ear probe microphone, speech mapping measures and maximum power output measurements. These sophisticated tests independently verify how the hearing aid functions in your individual ear canal. This is the standard of care you can expect at all our clinics. Due to the flexibility and customizable features of prescription hearing aids, they are made to be adjustable for verification. OTC devices may not have the full functionality for specific prescriptions when utilizing real-ear probe measures. 

5. Schedule Routine Maintenance

Regular follow-ups are necessary for prescription hearing aids, so expect to pre-schedule your appointments. Routine maintenance and regular monitoring of hearing and hearing aids are critical to success. OTC devices may also benefit from yearly cleaning, maintenance and inspection.

6. Ask if Your Provider Offers a Satisfaction Guarantee

A hearing aid purchase should include an assessment period during which most of the cost of the hearing aid is refundable, less a non-refundable re-stocking and professional fee, if the device isn’t satisfactory. Be sure to ask about the other options available if a particular device doesn’t work out during the assessment period.

7. Be Informed

Advertisements that offer big discounts or special “discount plans” are usually based upon an inflated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). “Free trials” are often non-custom devices fit under “study or clinical trial.” These marketing techniques can be misleading because hearing aid manufacturers conduct these studies prior to new product release or in a very controlled manner in which only those who meet specific criteria may participate.

8. Be Cautious of Online Stores

Hearing aid manufacturers discourage the sale and purchase of prescription hearing aids online, especially from retailers that are not directly supported by local, licensed professionals trained to fit their sophisticated hearing aid technology. 

OTC hearing aids are available online and in retail stores, but do not feature the same level of sophisticated technology as prescription hearing aids, and should only be used by individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss over age 18. Be sure to inquire about the return period and any associated fees with these purchases. 

The specialists and staff at Associated Audiologists are professionally trained and equipped to help you find and fit the hearing aids that best suit your needs. Request a consultation with us today to get started on your path to better hearing!