Frequently asked questions
Do you have a hearing loss?
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Q. Why are hearing aids so expensive?
A. The expense in hearing aids can be attributed to a combination of factors:
- Manufacturers spend a great deal of time and money researching and developing newer and better sounding hearing aids.
- Compared to the number of people who have hearing loss, few actually purchase hearing aids. It has been estimated that if everyone who had hearing loss purchased hearing aids, the cost would be less than half of the current price.
- There is a large service component to the purchase of hearing aids. When purchasing hearing aids, you are also purchasing pre- and post-fitting sessions and counseling services.
Q. What should I expect during my first visit to the audiologist?
A. The audiologist will take a comprehensive history and invite you to share your concerns about your hearing health and communication difficulties. He/she will exam your ears and check for ear wax. A comprehensive evaluation of your hearing will take place in a sound treated booth with calibrated equipment. The audiologist will review the results with you as well as answer any questions that you may have. He/she may recommend a hearing aid consultation and/or medical referral. Written materials can be provided to share with family members.
Q. Do I need to see a physician before obtaining hearing aids?
A. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all persons have a medical evaluation by a licensed physician before purchasing hearing aids. This medical evaluation can be waived if the patient meets certain criteria and is over the age of 18. The audiologist is able to determine if the patient meets the criteria during the evaluation.
Q. Do I need two hearing aids or can I get by with just one?
A. Studies have shown that individuals hear well in most situations when amplifying both ears instead of just one. Some examples include:
- Group conversations
- Conversation with background noise present
- Localizing or determining the direction from which sound or conversation is coming from
Recent research has also suggested that sound perception can actually deteriorate quicker in an ear that is not amplified in comparison to the ear that wears the hearing aid.
Q. Does my insurance pay for hearing aids?
A. Generally speaking, most insurance companies pay for hearing tests but do not pay for hearing aids. Medicare does not pay for hearing aids. However, premium policies and some employer-negotiated insurance terms may have coverage. It is wise to check with your individual policy before your audiology appointment.
When checking insurance coverage you should ask the following:
- Does coverage include both ears?
- Is there a dollar limit?
- How often are replacement hearing aids allowed?
Be careful not to confuse coverage with discounts. Some insurance companies may negotiate a discount from certain hearing aid vendors, however those discounts may be reductions from MSR (manufacturer suggested retail) cost, which are generally much higher than the usual and customary pricing available at hospitals and clinics.
Q. What should I do if I know my spouse/significant other needs a hearing aid, but they won't admit it?
This is a hard question and there is no one magic solution to convince someone that they need hearing help. Try to be as understanding as possible, realizing that change is never easy for anyone. Someone who has a hearing problem may not be aware of the decrease or even know that someone repeats things several times for them.
Encourage the person to have a no obligation consultation as a first step. Avoid having a free screening at high-pressure hearing aid sales facilities, as this tends to be a turn-off to the person who is struggling with admitting a hearing problem. Seeking advice from a family physician as an independent source can help. Most family physicians know a good audiologist or audiology clinic to refer you to.