Are you dealing with mild to moderate hearing loss and think you might need hearing aids? You’re not alone: About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids. If you think that the next step is a trip to the audiologist, you might be wrong. For a long time, that was the only way to get hearing aids. Now more than ever, consumers are taking their health in their own hands and researching alternatives to audiologist-prescribed hearing aids that measure up in just about every manner. On top of that, these hearing aid options are affordable and user-friendly.
Hearing loss contributes to both physical and mental health issues. Naturally, it’s a relief to those with mild to moderate hearing loss to have options that exist beyond the expensive products that an audiologist might sell. While price usually isn’t synonymous with quality, it’s important for consumers to know their options, so they can get back to normal life without feeling left out of conversations and other daily activities, such as watching TV or going out to eat at a restaurant.
Retail-based health care is a growing trend as consumers look for less expensive, more convenient alternatives to traditional medical settings. Costco entered the hearing aid market more than 25 years ago, but now sells about 11% of the hearing aids in the United States.
Costco’s leading hearing aid, the Kirkland Signature 9.0 model released in June 2019, is manufactured by Sonova, the same company that produces Phonak, Unitron, and Hansaton hearing aids, among others.
Let’s find out more about the Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is the Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aid?
- What are the features of the Kirkland Signature 9.0?
- What are other, popular Costco hearing aids?
- Learn about Costco's free hearing test
- Comparing traditional hearing aid providers, Kirkland hearing aids, and online options
- Alternatives to Costco’s Kirkland hearing aids
What is the Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aid?
Kirkland Signature — the same brand name that manufactures groceries, appliances, health and beauty, cleaning products, and more — is the exclusive “flagship” brand in Costco’s inventory, often dominating hearing aid sales within its stores. The Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids cost $1,500 per pair and don’t require a fitting since the wire goes over the ear. Based on user reviews, users have reported that the Kirkland hearing aids are not ideal for tinnitus.
What is tinnitus? According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears.
“A common problem, it affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. Without a rechargeable battery option, changing the batteries every few weeks isn’t great for those with dexterity issues.”
What are the features of the Kirkland Signature 9.0?
Costco describes the Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids through these features:
- They connect to most Bluetooth-compatible devices, and can enable streaming audio directly from Bluetooth-enabled TVs.
- A button on the hearing aids also allows the user to answer calls hands-free in stereo sound, while the “Easy Line Remote” app gives the ability to adjust volume, programs, and options.
- The smart technology automatically adjusts the settings to your environment, whether a busy restaurant or a concert with friends. In addition, they are designed to optimize speech in difficult conditions, as well as for durability and protection against dust and moisture.
The cost of a kit includes two premium wireless hearing instruments, a cleaning cloth and brush, 10 zinc-air batteries, and a travel pouch and hard-cover case. Five colors are offered, from bronze and beige to stone, silver, and black.
The purchase of Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids also comes with access to an online portal on the proper care and use of the hearing aids, including connecting to your other devices, as well as remote support for adjustments.
What are the popular Costco hearing aids?
In addition to Costco’s Kirkland Signature 9.0, the warehouse club also offers hearing aids from Philips, Rexton, Phonak, and GN ReSound in its lineup. Options range from open fit and behind-the-ear to in-the-ear and canal for mild to severe hearing loss. Costco hearing aid prices range depending on the model, starting at $899 up to $1,499, which is still less than the national average of $2,300, though they’re more than two to five times more expensive than what some online retailers’ products cost.
The Philips HearLink 9010, offered by the popular consumer electronics company, comes in behind-the-ear and receiver-in-the-canal styles. At $1,249, they feature multichannel directionality, binaural noise management, noise control, feedback canceller, and connectivity to Apple products.
The Rexton Adore iX has 20 fine-tuning channels, automatic voice detection, reverb reducer, and one power level and one mic directional for up to $1,499. An in-the-ear design allows audio streaming and can be used with smart devices in the home; however, the battery is not rechargeable.
Coming in a variety of colors, the Phonak Brio 3.0 has a remote application on both Android and iOS to program the hearing aids. They enable hands-free calling, allow audio and TV streaming, and are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled devices, though the price starts at $1,400 per hearing aid.
Also at a high price tag of $1,249 per hearing aid, the GN ReSound Vida LiNX Quattro 9 features binaural directionality, built-in lithium batteries, fine-tuning channels, resound assist, receiver-in-canal technology, and Bluetooth capabilities, along with a portable charging case that saves power consumption by 20%.
About Costco's free hearing test
Most Costcos across the country are now equipped with in-store Hearing Centers, staffed mostly by hearing aid specialists rather than audiologists. Why? The tests that Costco runs are to determine hearing improvements, not diagnose a specific condition that is causing someone’s hearing loss. The Costco Hearing Aid Center staff helps to select the type of hearing aids most closely matched to a person’s hearing loss, the anatomy of their ear, and their lifestyle.
The cost of a Costco membership includes access to the Hearing Center, where you can receive a free hearing test to determine if you could be helped by a hearing aid, as well as product demonstrations, follow-up appointments, and checkups.
Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids come with a free six-month trial, plus free loss and damage coverage with no deductible. However, the staff at Costco’s hearing aid centers will not file insurance claims for you, if that’s an option.
Most recently, Costco began offering free remote hearing aid adjustments for those select devices that are wireless with companion apps that offer the ability to connect remotely to a hearing professional, which is not an option for Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids at this time.
Comparing traditional hearing aid providers, Costco hearing aids, and online retailers
Depending on where patients go for hearing aids, the price can differ dramatically for essentially the same product. No matter the route, it is unlikely that costs are covered by health insurance or Medicare.
Traditional hearing aid providers, such as audiologist offices, can charge upward of $4,600 for a pair of hearing aids, which includes the cost of in-person testing and fitting.
Patients who purchase hearing aids through Costco’s hearing aid center receive free warranty periods and loss and damage coverage. A pair of Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids come at a price tag of $1,499.
While no over-the-counter options exist to date, online retailers, such as ZVOX with their Voicebud hearing aids, offer direct-to-consumer hearing aids at a fraction of the price of traditional retail options.
Alternatives to Costco hearing aids
ZVOX VoiceBud hearing aids are registered Class One with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Featuring dual microphone noise-blocker technology, VoiceBuds were designed by one of the world’s leading audiologists using American-made component parts to make voices easier to understand, while reducing the volume of distracting sounds.
Like Kirkland Signature 9.0 hearing aids, VoiceBuds are backed up by a 60-day home trial, but Voicebuds can be adjusted in the comfort of home rather than going to a Costco Hearing Center.
ZVOX VoiceBud models include the best-selling VoiceBud VB20 dual-microphone hearing aid with smartphone app control and the new VoiceBud VB25 rechargeable hearing aids. Both come at a fraction of the cost, at $599 for each pair, with extended warranties available past the standard one-year ZVOX warranty.
If you’re ready to learn more, start with a free online hearing test to see if you have hearing loss. Once you’ve decided to take steps to deal with your hearing loss, there are affordable hearing aid options available to you. You can say hello to getting your life back.