THE ULTIMATE BUYERS GUIDE
I am often asked to comment on the price of hearing aids. What I generally tell people is the price you can afford is the best price to pay. The question people should be asking is, how to cost hearing aids?
Purchasing a hearing aid should be looked upon as an investment. It shouldn’t be treated like buying a pair of shoes or a new pair of jeans. It shouldn’t be treated like just another thing that you must have.
Purchasing a hearing aid is about making an investment in you hearing health. It is about purchasing something that will add to the quality of your everyday life. Due to the cost involved, it is a decision you will want to get right.
Is there a formula or a guide on how to cost hearing aids?
The short answer is yes. I have developed a 6 point plan for anyone who needs to purchase a new or even a first time hearing aid. This guide will walk you through the process to ensuring that you get the hearing aid that you need and one that will meet your individual needs for many years to come.
What not to do.
Before I outline my 6 point plan, I would like to tell you what NOT to do. I am severely hard of hearing. I have lived with hearing loss most of my 50 years. I am a long-term hearing aid wearer and have had more than a dozen different types of devices.
If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, please don’t panic. Most people’s first reaction is to rush out and buy the first thing that someone recommends. In most cases, this will be a disaster. The hearing aids won’t work as you would expect them to and you end up thinking that all hearing aids are the same.
Hearing loss is a very complex issue and therefore buying hearing aids can be a complex issue too. Use my 6 point plan outlined here and you will end up with the best value device that is ideal for your individual needs.
My 6 POINT PLAN
Know your hearing loss level.
Not all hearing loss is the same and you need to know your level. There are 4 main levels of hearing loss. They are mild, moderate, severe and profound. Hearing aids are manufactured to deal with particular levels of hearing loss.
The most common are mild and moderate. These two are most closely associated with age-related hearing loss but can affect people at any age. The only way to know your hearing loss level is to get it checked.
The best way to get your hearing level checked is through a professional audiologist. I highly recommend this. This is the starting point when buying a hearing aid. Without having this information you are simply rolling a dice and hoping for the best.
Your local medical centre can tell you where to get this simple test done. Most hearing aid suppliers will also be able to perform this test. Just remember, just because you get the test done in a certain place, you shouldn’t feel obliged to purchase a device from that supplier.
When you have the test done ask the audiologist for a copy of your audiogram. Even if there is a small cost for this it will give you much more freedom when you begin shopping for your hearing aid.
The various types of device.
You now know your level of hearing loss. It is time to begin the search for the right device for you.
You will need to know the type (or style) of hearing aid that you want to wear. This can be broken down into two main types. Some manufacturers have subcategories within these but they are,
ITE (In the ear) hearing aids. These are also called hidden hearing aids. The device sits inside the ear with nothing showing from the outside. They are particularly suitable for people who are a bit self-conscious about wearing hearing aids.
Due to the extremely small nature of these devices, they tend to have a limited level of technology. However, as technology advances, I would expect to see this improve in a very short period of time.
BTE (Behind the ear) hearing aids. These are still by far the most popular type of hearing aid. They generally consist of a small case that sits behind the ear. This case is connected to a receiver that sits inside the ear canal via a thin piece of plastic tubing.
With these devices the amount of technology available to you is vast. From iPhone and smartphone connectivity to remote control use, the possibilities are almost limitless for the wearer.
Where will you use your hearing aids?
Knowing where you will be using your hearing aids will help you to determine what level of technology they will need to have. Some people, like myself, wear them all the time. Others will only wear them around the home for watching television etc….
Home – If you only need a hearing aid for watching television, listening to the radio or for conversation in the home then a fairly basic model would be fine for you.
Work – If you are involved in telephone calls or conference calls or regular meetings then you may want to look at a device with a T setting. This can allow you to connect your hearing aid to a loop system to make hearing easier.
Social outings – If you regularly go to places such as pubs/clubs, restaurants or the theatre then as well as a T setting, you may also want to look at background noise control.
The point of this step is to look at as wide a range of places and environments you will use your hearing aids as possible. The benefit of this will be seen in the next step when you are deciding what level of technology you want in your device.
What level of technology do you want in your hearing aid?
Once you know your level of hearing loss (step1), the style you would like (step 2) and where you will be wearing your hearing aid (step 3) you can begin to match particular models to your individual needs.
Getting the basic technology that covers the first 3 steps is essential. These 3 steps cover your everyday living. Once you have them covered you can begin to look at additional technology to enhance your hearing aid experience even further.
The key at this stage is to look at as many different models as you can. You can check out hundreds of different types online to see what would suit your needs. Just type “hearing aids” into google and you will have a world of options at your disposal.
Here are two examples of the different levels of technology available in modern hearing aids.
HD 150 Digital hearing aid. (review here)
This particular model would be suitable for someone who uses a hearing aid mainly for home use such as watching television or listening to the radio or just talking at home. It would cost £169.00 Its main features are,
In-the-ear digital hearing aid
Suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss
Two sound processing channels
Wax barrier to protect the device against dirt and moisture
Feedback shield to eradicate unwanted whistling
3 tips varying in size can help eradicate whistling or improve comfort
12 months full manufacturers warranty
Uses a 10A battery
The ReSound LiNX 7 Digital hearing aid. (review here)
This a much more advanced model and comes with a multitude of modern technology. With this model, you can work, rest and play and it will cope with it all. It would cost £1395.00 and it features,
SmartApp – is available from the Apple Store. It facilitates maximum connectivity between your Apple device and your hearing aid, by providing the following functions:
Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset – if you want to listen to some music, your hearing aids can be turns into a surround sound stereo headset at a click of a button.
Audio Streaming Program – enables sound to be streamed directly to your iPhone or alternative Apple device, making listening to music or taking part in a telephone conversation a simple and rewarding experience.
Remote Microphone – turn your Apple device into a remote microphone for those times when you find yourself in a challenging listening environment.
Remote Control for your hearing aids – can be conducted via your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. You can discreetly adjust volume, base and program settings whenever you choose.
Geo Tag your favourite places – with the settings to match that particular environment. Upon your return to the same area, your hearing aids will adjust automatically.
SmartRange Dual Core Platform – facilitates access to FaceTime, Skype, TV, films, and music by processing high-quality sound wirelessly to your hearing aid.
Sound Shaper – helps to improve the clarity of speech.
Binaural Fusion – with 2.4 GHz of wireless capability, your hearing aids are designed to communicate with each other to produce the very best sound.
Environmental Optimiser – reduces wind interference and background noise, to enable your hearing aid to produce excellent clarity even in more challenging listening environments.
Natural Directionality Program – creates a natural and equalised sound by enabling the microphone settings to be adjusted according to the direction of the speech you wish to focus on.
iSolate Nanotech coating – offers dust and moisture resistant protection, prolonging the life of your hearing device.
17 Sound Frequency Channels – provides greater choice when programming your hearing aid to suit your personal requirements.
Surround Sound Technology – provides an organic, natural listening experience.
Synchronised Soft Switching – means that your hearing aids can adapt automatically to compensate for loud or unexpected noise, reducing levels to a more comfortable level when required.
Comfort Phone Program – allows your ‘phone ear’ to receive enhanced volume so that speech is highlighted, while the other hearing aid reduces the background noise around you. This provides focus and clarity to your telephone conversation.
Three memory programs – allow you to adjust your hearing aids according to your personal requirements.
As you can see the differences are massive. You need to spend as much time as you can on this step of the process. The easiest way to do this step is to find an online supplier. You will have all the information in front of you regarding the technology available for any particular device.
Set your budget and stick to it.
At the very beginning of this article, I said that the price you can afford is the best price to pay for a hearing aid. I stand by that statement. I will repeat, buying a hearing aid is an investment in your hearing health and your quality of life.
However, I would never advocate spending what you can’t afford. You need to be realistic. If you can afford to go for the very best then do so. Being able to hear properly can’t be costed. The true value of hearing loss can only ever be measured when you have it.
My advice is to set yourself a budget and stick to it. Even if you have to save up for a while to get the price you have in mind, once you get there then set that as your upper limit.
Do not allow yourself to be pressurised by salespeople trying to sell you the most expensive model on the market. If you have done your research and gone through steps 1 to 4 then you will know what you need and want from your hearing aid.
Here is my formula for buying the right hearing aid for you.
COST = WHAT YOU NEED + WHAT YOU WANT x WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD
Use a reputable supplier.
This is perhaps the most important step of all. You are about to invest a lot of money in purchasing a device that is going to affect your quality of life. You want to make sure that the company you buy from have the very highest of standards.
There are a number of things you should consider when looking at a supplier of hearing aids.
1. Expertise and knowledge. They should have fully qualified audiologists available to speak to potential customers and people who just need advice. These people should understand hearing health. They should be able to go through your audiogram in detail and discuss what type of hearing aid will work for you and more importantly, what type of device will not work for your individual needs.
2. The range of hearing aids. You should look at a supplier who has a wide range of hearing aids. If they only sell one or two models then they are going to try and sell you those models. If they have a wide selection from different manufacturers then you will have access to the best possible choice.
3. Their price range. You will want your supplier to have a range of prices from fairly cheap models right up to the very elite hearing aids available on the market. This will make it easier for you to find a model within your budget.
4. Their aftercare program. Your supplier should offer a comprehensive aftercare program that includes all repairs and fine tuning for your hearing aids for the lifetime of the device.
5. Guarantees and warranties. Your supplier should offer both of these. Your hearing aids should always come with a minimum of a 12-month manufacturers warranty. I would also recommend that you use a supplier who offers at least a 30-day return policy from the day you purchase your hearing aids. This will give you plenty of time to ensure that the devices are perfect for you.
I have recommended a supplier called HEARING DIRECT.COM on this website. I am happy to do so again here. I have used this company many times in the past and find everything about them to be ultra professional. You will find a full review of them here.
Your 6 point guide Summary.
Step 1. Know your hearing loss level. Get your hearing tested by an audiologist.
Step 2. Decide what type of device you want. Either ITE (in the ear) or BTE (behind the ear).
Step 3. Decide where you will need your device. At home, work and social settings.
Step 4. The level of technology. Make sure your device covers steps 1,2 and 3. Everything else is a bonus.
Step 5. Set your budget and stick to it. This is an investment. Don’t be sold something you don’t need.
Step 6. Use a reputable supplier. Only use a supplier you can trust.
I hope that this ultimate guide proves to be as useful to you as it has been to me in the past. Purchasing a hearing aid is too important to leave to chance. Your hearing health and quality of life are too important to be left totally in the hands of others.
Take control of purchasing your hearing aids. Know what you want. Know what you need. Know what you can afford. This is your hearing health. This is your quality of life. Use this guide and get what is right for you.
If you have a particular model of hearing aid that you would like my opinion on or for me to review then please get I touch and I will be happy to help out.
As always I welcome all comments and suggestions. Please leave them below and I will reply to them as soon as possible. Take care and good hearing health to you all.