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Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids: Cost Factors vs. Value (Is It Worth It?)

There is even a danger that some sounds could cause more hearing loss if the hearing aids settings are at unsafe levels.

Why not mail order hearing aids?

Yikes! The cost of hearing aids continues to go up! The current cost for a hearing aid in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa is $1,000–$4,000. How could this be? Especially when I can get something from a magazine for $400!

I frequently get asked why someone should choose to see an audiologist instead of just getting mail-order hearing aids. Many people look at the bottom line ($$$) and make decisions from there. More sophisticated shoppers realize the difference between the value and the investment. This holiday season, take notice of what you are missing out on, and imagine how much better you could be doing if you had exceptional care and professional judgment. Do you get value out of your current devices? Would it make sense to get a second opinion?

Cheap hearing devices are…cheap!

The look and feel of the casing, the battery door, the piece of plastic that sits in the ear canal — none of it is high quality. There is even some danger to having an incorrectly sized dome stuck in your ear canal. From a sound quality standpoint, if you were to examine the sounds that these devices amplify, it is often louder but is not set up to match the individual’s hearing loss. The individual’s loudness preferences are also not taken into account for loud/soft sounds. There is even a danger that some sounds could cause more hearing loss if the settings are at unsafe levels.

Additionally, background noise is not removed at all, and many describe sounds as akin to a cheap transistor radio. Care and maintenance are poorly explained. Also, when the hearing aid breaks or if the individual has a question, where do they go for help? There are no local places that can serve them because no one has the parts or the programming capabilities. If they are lucky, they may have kept the original address or phone number so they can send the device back to the factory, hopefully receiving it back in a couple weeks. But worst of all, after two to three months of trying to hear and finally giving up, it’s a waste of $400, which could have been spent on something much more valuable.

Get professional advice

Having a local audiologist is a good start toward better hearing. Part of what you pay for is the service that you receive. It is important to know how to properly insert, remove, and clean the device, as well as change the battery. (Yes, there are instructions for that too!) But what about knowing what to expect and what kind of adjustments may be needed over the next three weeks, three months, three years, and the rest of the life of the device? In my professional opinion, adjusting hearing aids is like adjusting your training for a marathon. It is a good idea to start easy in the beginning and turn up the sound over time. Everyone deserves a program customized to their unique needs.

Technology matters

Lower-cost hearing devices come with fewer options and less ability to process the signal in background noise. Still, if cost factors are really an issue, it is good to know that a less-expensive device only costs a little more than the $400 you were originally going to throw away. A more basic device is still much better than what mail-order devices can offer.

We can help

Finding the right professional is a personal decision. AudigyCertified™ practices offer trial periods to ensure that a customized process has successfully been started and that your investment is a good decision. Additionally, verification ensures the settings are correct for each individual’s loss. They also work hard to keep your investment in top working order for its lifetime. While the average life of a hearing aid is about five years, it is not unusual for patients to get six to eight years or more from some devices.

By Molly Parker, P.C.

Dr. Molly Parker is the owner of Parker Audiology and a graduate of the University of Iowa and A.T. Still. She has been an audiologist in the Quad Cities since 1997. Her background includes diagnostic and balance testing and hearing aid service fittings. She believes that hearing is the main pathway to connecting with others. Professionally, Dr. Parker strives to remain current on research and information that will help your experiences. She is motivated by a job well done. Your personal success provides satisfaction to her because hearing better means you are living a better, fuller life. On a personal note, Dr. Parker enjoys her time away from work to spend with family, sporting events, and traveling.