7 Pitfalls When Buying Hearing Aids

7 Pitfalls When Buying Hearing Aids

We encourage you being an informed consumer. The following are common traps people fall into when getting hearing aids and what you can do to avoid them.

Bait and switch Advertising

There are many strategies to mislead people through advertising.  When it comes to hearing aids, here are three of the most popular:

1) Maybe it’s just earwax.  Although accumulated earwax can certainly create a plug, and a 30 decibel loss until removed, in reality 1 in 100 people have earwax plugged ears.

2) Offer a very low attractive price. For example, $995 a pair. But, they don’t want you to buy those because there’s not profit in them. Most hearing aids are priced so that the audiologist or specialist makes more when you buy a more expensive unit.  Their incentive is to sell you the most expensive.

Big Box Stores & Insurance Companies Selling Hearing Aids

Consider the old saying “We always get what we pay for”  Lower prices always come with hidden costs.  And, when it comes to hearing aids, here’s what you sacrifice:

1) Before and after-sale service, rehabilitation and support

2) Quality and selection of hearing aids offered

Internet Sales

Buying hearing aids over the internet is a disappointment waiting to happen. The seeming savings will actually end up costing you more. You get NONE of the service, support and follow up that a local professional provides, often at slightly higher cost. The Better Hearing Institute, International Hearing SocietyAmerican Academy of Audiology, and the major hearing aid makers oppose internet sales, and are working to end it. They all agree that the best interests of the hearing impaired cannot be served over the internet. Online hearing tests have been shown to be unreliable and inaccurate. This means you’ll need to go to a local professional anyway to get an accurate hearing test when you become dissatisfied with the hearing aids you bought over the internet. By the time you’re done buying hearing aids over the internet, you’ll have spent far more time, experienced far more stress and headaches, and gotten far less from your hearing instruments than you should expect. And, ultimately you’ll probably end up having to find a local professional to work with you, whose services you’ll have to pay for.

In-Home Services

In-home services may be beneficial for a very small number of individuals who absolutely cannot get to a hearing professional’s office.

Pros:

This is better than no treatment at all.

Cons:

1) It’s simply not possible to perform complete and accurate hearing tests and fitting without a sound booth and the appropriate equipment, most of which is not portable.

2) It’s highly unlikely you’ll get the support and follow up you’ll need to get the most benefit from your hearing instruments.

3) If you got your hearing instruments from someone other than the In-Home Hearing Specialist, you can be assured their primary interest is getting you to buy new hearing aids from them.

Senior Service Centers

Hearing Specialists visit a Senior Center or Senior Living Facility on a regular schedule offering to clean and check your hearing aids.

Pros:

1) For some individuals this may be their only option to get this service.

2) The hearing specialist will test your hearing and fit your hearing aids in your own home. 

Cons:

1) The hearing specialist’s interest is ultimately getting you to buy new hearing aids from them. They may have little incentive in keeping your hearing aids working.

2) It’s simply not possible to perform complete and accurate hearing evaluations and fittings without a sound booth and the appropriate equipment, most of which are not portable.

3) It’s highly unlikely you’ll get the support, rehabilitation and follow up you’ll need to get the most benefit from your hearing instruments.

4) It’s common for these people to fit lower quality hearing instruments and charge higher than appropriate prices because older adults are easy prey and don’t know the difference. To them, it looks and sounds like a hearing aid, and it was convenient.

All Hearing Aids Look the Same

Unless you’ve done your homework, and really know what you’re looking at, you have no idea how to tell a $29 hearing aid from a $3000 hearing aid. Even a trained professional cannot tell the difference until those aids are connected to their computer for programming. What they look like on the outside says nothing about what’s inside. And, it’s what’s inside that matters. The model name may be on the outside, but even that can be easily changed by swapping the casing of one aid for another.

Misleading Insurance Benefits

Many insurance, and supplemental insurance, companies now claim to provide coverage for hearing. Be very, very wary. Read the fine print carefully. Why?

1) Most hearing aid providers offer hearing evaluations for free.  Coverage for a hearing evaluation saves you nothing.

2) Many hearing aid providers offer the same price your insurance company calls “Discounted Pricing.”

3) What you hope to gain in a lower price comes at the cost of significantly shorter after-sale service, and lower quality hearing instruments.

Now What?

Find a Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist or Audiologist who follows the recommended protocol and ethical standards established by the organizations who oversee the profession: www.betterhearing.org/www.ihsinfo.org/www.audiology.org/ How will you know your Hearing Professional follows the recommended practices and protocols? Learn what they are.  Take a copy with you to your appointment. Then ASK the provider if they do all those things.