The cost of medical care in the United States is amongst the most expensive in the world. This can be seen in exorbitant prices paid for a hospital visit or as simple as the price of necessary medical tech like hearing aids.
Hearing aids were first created in 1898, and it is interesting that in over 100 years of manufacturing hearing aids, they are still largely inaccessible to people due to their high price points. Tack on the rise in product costs due to supply chain issues and shortages of 2021 and 2022, and you have a recipe for high prices.
Below is a closer look at the factors that impact the price of hearing aids, reasonably priced high-quality hearing aids, as well as everything else you may need to know about hearing care.
Factors That Impact Hearing Aid Price
If you look at hearing aids like any other consumer electronic, typically, the more features a hearing aid has, the more expensive it is.
Take a smartphone purchase as a prime example. A less powerful phone with minimal storage and smaller battery capacity will be less expensive than a smartphone with all bells and whistles.
It’s time to look at some of the potential factors that can contribute to the cost of hearing aids. Understanding the different options available can allow you to better understand what features you need and which ones you may be able to skip out on to save a little money.
Prescription vs. Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids
The first factor that you will notice a large price differential is between prescription hearing aids and over-the-counter hearing aids.
Prescription hearing aids are prescribed by an audiologist. These devices tend to have a hearing correction tailored to your specific hearing acuity and test results from a hearing test. Prescription hearing aids tend to be programable units that are able to amplify certain tones of sound while either dampening others or keeping them untouched.
As you would expect, this level of tailoring and adjustments drastically increases the price of hearing aids. To add to the cost, the programmable prescription hearing aids tend to also require an audiologist visit to fine-tune, which can add to an already expensive product. Prescription hearing aids, on average, cost $4700, and if you are on a fixed income like social security, this is an enormous expense.
The other option when it comes to hearing aids is to opt for over-the-counter hearing aids. While these typically don’t have quite the same programmability, they can be just as effective in amplifying sounds to allow those with hearing loss the ability to hear.
The main benefit of OTC hearing aids is that they are significantly less expensive. The EV1, for example, comes in at under $100 and provides you features beyond pure amplification, such as amplifying speech while reducing background noise.
Hearing Aid Fit
Another factor that can impact price is the exact fit of a hearing aid. There are a number of different form factors that hearing aids come in. Generally, the smaller the size, the more expensive the product is. The two most popular types of hearing aids include in-ear and behind-the-ear designs.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE) are more of a traditional style of hearing aid and have been around for a long time. Behind-the-ear designs tend to be less desirable because they are more apparent than other designs, and they tend to be much bulkier. With this design, the main body of the hearing aid hooks behind the ear, and a small wire leads to the ear canal with a speaker at the end.
The other design is the in-ear design. Rather than having the body of the hearing aid sit outside of the ear, these hearing aids are completely self-contained in a single unit within the ear canal. There are different degrees of in-ear hearing aids.
This style is slightly newer; innovation from hearing aid manufacturers allowed for the development of more efficient and smaller electronics. With a smaller battery and the ability to fit everything into a smaller-sized body, in-ear hearing aids are likely to be the future of hearing aid technology.
Voice Isolation Capabilities
Another feature that can impact the cost of hearing aids is how the sounds picked up from the microphone are handled. Some devices like PSAPs tend to just provide pure amplification of all noises, while hearing aids like the Audien Atom can help to discriminate between background noise and a person speaking.
Voice isolation is a great feature for those who have difficulty understanding people when in a noisy environment. The addition of this feature slightly adds to the complexity of processing and may cost more.
Then it comes to batteries in hearing aids; there are two main types that are utilized. These include disposable and rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries tend to cost more since the battery is included in the unit price, and usually, rechargeable batteries are more expensive to produce.
From a usability standpoint, many people enjoy having a pair of rechargeable hearing aids since you no longer have to carry around small button-sized zinc-air batteries. The charge of rechargeable batteries tends to last significantly shorter than disposable batteries. This tends to be okay since you can charge your hearing aids on a daily basis while you are asleep.
Are Hearing Aids Covered By Most Insurance Plans?
By this point, it is easy to gather that hearing aids can become quite an investment and the first question on many people's minds is if their insurance will cover the price of the hearing aids they like.
While many insurances help cover part of the costs for a number of health-related things like office visits, hearing aids and their repairs tend to not be covered in most basic plans. (Note that not all plans cover hearing exams.)
Some insurers offer additional hearing coverage, which may or may not be worth it for your particular circumstance. While most insurance coverage does not cover hearing aids, it is always worth a quick consultation with your insurance provider could save you some money.
Other Costs To Consider with Hearing Loss
While the cost of hearing aids is typically at the forefront of people's minds when it comes to the costs associated with hearing loss, there are also other costs you should factor in.
Some of those costs include additional hearing screenings to determine the root cause of hearing loss, increased audiologist visit frequency, and if you elect to get programable hearing aids, the cost of getting them adjusted.
Another cost you may want to consider is the cost of maintenance when it comes to hearing aids. At Audien, we have a very convenient accessory pack that includes everything you need to maintain your earbuds for only $12.
Keeping up with routine maintenance can help to reduce the chance of issues further down the road, including needing a replacement.
Feedback: Who Needs Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids can be an expensive bit of equipment, and understanding when they are and are not necessary could save you a bit of cash. The best way to determine if hearing aids are right for you is to get a hearing test done by a licensed audiologist in a hearing clinic.
The most useful exam during the visit is known as an audiogram, and it assesses your hearing ability in both of your ears. This test helps to decide whether you only need one or two hearing aids and an understanding of the amplification you may need.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reveals that out of the 37.5 adult Americans who struggle with hearing, only 16% have access to hearing aids.
In addition to knowing the level of hearing loss, it may also be essential to understand the underlying cause of a hearing problem. While hearing aids can help in a large majority of cases, there are some instances where hearing aids may not be helpful. One example would be conductive hearing loss caused by ear wax buildup.
In this instance of hearing loss, a hearing aid may actually contribute to more of a wax blockage. Rather than choosing to utilize a hearing aid in this scenario, the best choice would be to clean out the wax and then re-check your hearing ability (professional care recommended). In the case of wax buildup, this may actually completely resolve the hearing loss.
Audio Options for Everyone
The standard run-of-the-mill hearing aid that you will find at your local audiologist’s office will likely cost you somewhere around $2,000-$8,000 depending on the specifications, brand, and type. These price points are enough to make anyone feel a little unsettled. While hearing aids can be quite expensive, they don’t have to be.
Audien is a company that is dedicated to providing you with the very best hearing aids at a reasonable price point. With options like the EV1 and Audien Atom Pro, you can rest easy that Audien has you covered for your hearing aid needs at your specific price point.