The True Cost of Hearing Aids: What You Need to Know

Hearing aids are an essential part of overall health and well-being, yet only one in five people who could benefit from them actually use them. But why do hearing aids cost so much? To understand the true cost of a hearing aid, it's important to consider the factors that influence the price. Nowadays, audiologists offer a wide range of types of hearing aids, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages depending on the individual's hearing health needs. The prices of these headphones can also vary significantly.

Generally, headphones are sold together with professional services, meaning that everything is included in the sticker price. This fee may seem like a large amount, but when you take into account the factors that affect the price, it may not be such a bad deal. The price offered includes the retail price of the hearing aids and the professional audiology services needed to install and program the devices, as well as to repair and maintain them for a certain period of time, usually two to four years. In some cases, initial diagnostic tests are offered free of charge or are included in the package price. Hearing aids can also be sold “unbundled” or without professional services included. The disaggregated model allows you to purchase the headphones separately from any related services.

The disaggregated price may also include one or two follow-up office visits, after which you pay out of pocket for each visit to the audiology office. It all starts with an audiogram, which is a hearing test performed by a licensed audiologist. Private health insurance generally covers a diagnostic audiogram (but see your specific policy for more details). It can help determine if hearing loss is age-related or caused by a medical condition that requires additional monitoring, care, and treatment. Premium hearing aids also have rechargeable batteries, which can provide up to 30 hours of continuous use before they need to be recharged (usually overnight).

These headphones can also be small and go unnoticed compared to low-end models. For example, Starkey's Invisible (IIC) model sits deeply in the second curve of the ear canal, making it virtually invisible. The included service model includes adaptation, which consists of physically fitting a hearing device or a component of the device to the patient's ear. Depending on the hearing aid you choose, a physical mold of your ear may be necessary. An adaptation also includes importing the results of the audiogram into the device's software and programming the hearing aid to suit your unique hearing capacity and the specific acoustics of your ears.

Hearing aid programming is a verification and validation process that measures the sound amplified by the hearing aid before it reaches the ear canal and quantifies the number of decibels that patients hear. Be prepared to test your hearing aids in real-world situations and visit your audiologist several times until you can hear well in places like noisy restaurants with friends. The package price usually includes professional maintenance checks every six months so that your hearing aids continue to work properly. The combined price usually includes a one- to three-year warranty specified by the manufacturer to cover repair costs, and complete replacements usually cost a certain amount per device and can only be performed at that rate once. When your warranty coverage ends, you can pay to extend it, but that can be expensive. If something breaks after the standard warranty expires, you can also pay to have it repaired, as this will include a new warranty. Research and development drive much of the cost of hearing aids.

Research is ongoing to improve these small but powerful and personalized medical devices to mimic natural hearing. The best hearing aids for you include the right support at a price that fits your budget. While discount options can sometimes restrict the amount of services you can receive from an audiologist for the hearing aids you choose or limit the warranty options available to you, there are some ways to save on this health expense. Over-the-counter hearing aids, which are not suitable for everyone, have a lower price. Including hearing aids in your wellness plan is one of the easiest ways to reduce risks associated with untreated hearing loss such as increased cognitive decline and social isolation over time. Not sure which hearing aid is best for you? Answer some simple questions on MDhearing website or call 1-855-671-2524 to find out. The information provided on Forbes Health is for educational purposes only.

Your health and well-being are unique to you, and products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We don't offer individual medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment plans. For personal advice, consult a medical professional. Forbes Health meets strict standards of editorial integrity. As far as we know, all content is correct as of date of publication.

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