“How much do hearing aids cost” is a question that is commonly asked after learning about, or coming to terms with, hearing loss. It can be hard to know where to turn and whose advice to trust when treating hearing loss. Thankfully today, there are a range of affordable hearing aid options that put control back into your own hands.
Let’s start. You’ve identified that you have mild to moderate hearing loss. Now what? Is your only option to purchase audiologist-prescribed hearing aids? Or, are there other legitimate hearing aid options, like hearing aids that are sold online? With a little knowledge, you can be an advocate for your hearing and figure out what makes the most sense for your needs and budget.
Questions about the cost of hearing aids tops the list of anxieties feared by most people with hearing loss, on top of how a hearing aid will look or whether it will actually work. However, the AARP reports that the cost of not treating hearing loss is much higher than the cost of hearing aids. In addition, it has been reported that untreated hearing loss can lead to other mental and physical conditions, furthering any feelings of isolation.
In this article, you’ll learn about the cost of hearing aids in 2020:
- What is included in the cost of hearing aids?
- What factors influence hearing aid prices?
- Why do certain types of hearing aids cost so much?
- Why are online hearing aids cheaper than audiologist-prescribed ones? Are they different?
- How can I keep the cost of a hearing aid purchase down?
- Does insurance cover the cost of online hearing aids?
- When should I consider buying hearing aids?
- Affordable alternatives to lower the cost of hearing aids.
What is included in the cost of hearing aids?
Because it’s easy to hit consumers when they are most vulnerable, hearing aid packages might also include a hearing exam and diagnosis, extra batteries, fittings, fine-tuning and adjustments, and any subsequent follow-up appointments, many of which might not be needed for each customer. It’s the lack of transparency that keeps driving prices up and consumers out as these bundles often include the cost of the professional services, in addition to the hearing aid technology.
The level of technology also drives the cost of hearing aids. Like all electronics trends, as the technology becomes more widely available through various outlets, the cost is typically driven down by competition. While it may seem like the average price of hearing aids has stayed the same over the years with reputable manufacturers, it’s more that the integrated technology continues to be upgraded with each product revision.
What factors influence hearing aid prices?
The cost of a hearing aid varies greatly based on its size, special features, and how it is placed in your ear. Styles can range from virtually invisible in-ear models to the more traditional, larger models. Hearing aids can be fitted completely in the ear canal, in the ear, behind the ear with the receiver in-canal or receiver-in-the-ear, or be open fit. The choice of style is more indicative of preference rather than price or quality of the hearing aid.
Additional features that influence cost include noise reduction, directional microphones, rechargeable batteries, telecoils, wireless connectivity, remote controls, direct audio input, variable programming, and synchronization.
Before deciding which style and features to put your money toward, ask about a trial period and check for a warranty. In addition, think about future needs in case your hearing gets worse, so you can get more bang for your hearing aid buck in the long term.
Why do hearing aids cost so much?
Historically, companies like Widex, Signia, Oticon, Resound, Starkey, and Phonak were the only options. Without much in the way of competition from online brands, they were able to mark up their prices over manufacturing costs considerably, only to be marked up again by audiologists and hearing aid clinics.
There is a significant research and development cost that has to be recouped through each hearing aid sale, something that companies who manufacture the hearing aids themselves, like ZVOX, know all too well. Other companies find an existing design made in China or overseas and buy it, rebrand it, and sell it at a substantial markup that can exceed 1,000%. According to Consumer Reports though, the more typical retail markup on hearing aids is 117% to cover overhead costs of maintaining a brick-and-mortar location, staff wages, and to provide a profit margin.
Why are online hearing aids cheaper than audiologist-prescribed ones? Are they different?
According to AARP, six global manufacturers control 90% of the market. On top of that, hearing aid providers typically contract with only two or three selected manufacturers, limiting your options when working with an audiologist audiologist.
Purchasing hearing aids online is like buying them at wholesale cost directly from the manufacturer. This reduces the markup normally required to provide the resellers (audiologists usually) a comfortable profit margin. Online hearing aid manufacturers follow a similar model that many online glasses retailers follow, in which you can use a doctor’s prescription to select and try on frames online, then bring them to your doctor to have them fitted.
The biggest difference between online hearing aids and audiologist-prescribed ones is that not all hearing aids purchased online are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some products marketed as “hearing aids” (especially as seen on Amazon) are not hearing aids at all but rather personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).
While PSAPs serve their purpose for situational hearing amplification, they are more akin to the act of buying “cheaters” glasses at a drugstore. PSAPs do not replace the need for hearing aids for those with mild to moderate hearing loss, so be sure to read the fine print, including warranty and guarantees. And never forget to check the reviews from real customers.
How can I keep the cost of a hearing aid purchase down?
Since many insurance companies cover the cost of an evaluation by an audiologist, it may be smart to take advantage of that and then do your own research on affordable hearing aid options outside of a clinical setting. A hearing test should ideally be conducted before purchasing hearing aids, since choosing the wrong hearing aid can do more harm than good. For example, hearing loss may be caused by ear wax blockage that is not permanent.
A good audiologist will recommend options outside the hearing aids available at their clinic, as well as discuss what to look for in online options and how they can be fitted or adjusted, with or without their help.
Does insurance cover the cost of online hearing aids?
Hearing aid costs vary by insurance, so be sure to check your policy. Part or all of the cost may be covered, however, Medicare doesn’t cover any of the cost of hearing aids for adults. In many states, private insurance companies are required to pay for hearing aids for children, and medical assistance covers hearing aids in most states. Some plans cover, or partially cover, hearing tests. You can also take an online hearing test.
Veterans may be able to get hearing aids at little or no cost through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Those who qualify based on a financial situation may also be able to get assistance through nonprofit programs, like Easter Seals. Without these options, an affordable hearing solution may feel unachievable unless you find a reputable online hearing aid manufacturer.
When should I consider buying hearing aids?
AARP recently noted, “There are nearly 30 million Americans with hearing loss, a condition that has been related to social isolation, loss of income and onset of dementia. But two-thirds or more of adults over 50 who might benefit from hearing aids don't use them.” The main obstacle for most consumers resisting the adoption of a hearing aid is price. “The average price of a single hearing aid is $2,300, according to a 2015 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. And most people need two,” the article goes on to state.
The cost of not buying hearing aids definitely outweighs the investment in better hearing. It’s hard to put a price tag on missed conversations with friends, family, and colleagues, in addition to the benefit of better overall health. An investment in hearing aids is an investment in your quality of life.
Affordable alternatives to lower the cost of hearing aids
It used to be that those experiencing hearing loss only had two options: Go to an audiologist or a hearing clinic, both of which had high markups for hearing aids. Thankfully, there are better options than ever today.
Online retailers like ZVOX offer high-quality, FDA-registered hearing aids at a fraction of the cost by selling directly to consumers without sacrificing product quality, features, warranty, or support. ZVOX makes hearing aids only in the United States and has two customer service centers on either side of the USA.
VoiceBuds are backed up by a 60-day home trial, and customer service centers will provide one-on-one guidance at no extra charge. Designed by one of the world's leading audiologists, ZVOX’s VoiceBuds can be placed and adjusted yourself, saving on time and the cost of a trip to the clinic.
A free online hearing test created by audiologists might be your first step toward better understanding your hearing needs.