While programs, legislature, and community efforts are made to help bridge the gap for disabled people, those who deal with disabilities will always have challenges to overcome when interacting with normal society. Access to quality, affordable treatment and equipment should not be one of them.
The challenges that a person with a disability may face are dynamic and varied. For some, they may have to learn entirely new languages like American Sign Language. For others, learning skills like reading braille or navigating the office in a wheelchair are stern realities that they must overcome and master.
One of the most prevalent disabilities affecting the general population is hearing loss. This condition is unique because most people experience it at some point in their life. For many people who deal with moderately severe to severe hearing loss, equipment like hearing aids or procedures like cochlear implants are their only option for recognizing and understanding sound.
For many years, these individuals have had to look at hefty price tags on hearing aids, procedures, and office visits in order to receive proper hearing care. Here at Audien Hearing, we’ve decided to create a new narrative. One where learning how to live with hearing loss doesn’t come with so much expense. We did this by creating quality, over-the-counter hearing aids that are affordable for the mass majority of people.
Hearing Loss Is One of the Most Prevalent Disabilities
One in eight people is considered to have hearing loss which makes it one of the most prevalent disabilities.
Hearing loss refers to the decrease in a person's ability to hear specific frequencies at a certain decibel level. All the sounds we hear are made up of wavelengths of different frequencies registering at various decibel levels.
A bird chirping in a tree overhead will register at a higher frequency but at a very low decibel threshold for someone without hearing loss. Chances are you will recognize this sound, and your brain will interpret it as a bird chirping overhead.
However, if you have moderate hearing loss, your threshold for recognizing this frequency is raised. Meaning, that if the decibel level that the frequency reaches you isn’t above a 20, chances are you won’t be able to recognize it.
As a person experiences an increase of hearing loss, their decibel threshold gets higher and higher - meaning that the frequencies they are able to interpret must be boosted to a higher decibel to be recognizable.
Coverage for Hearing Loss
As a person experiences hearing loss, it is disappointing that many private insurance companies do not cover the expensive costs of treating this condition. In order for someone to apply for federal financial aid, they must have a 60 or higher decibel threshold.
To put that in perspective, the only way they can qualify for financial assistance is to have moderately severe hearing loss.
For many people who do not have this extreme level of hearing loss, the reality of the frequencies they can no longer interpret without assistance is still life-altering. If your decibel threshold is 50 decibels or higher, you may not be able to easily understand soft-spoken people or recognize a voice in a crowd.
Why Are Prescription Hearing Aids So Expensive
The expensive part about this process isn’t necessarily building the hearing aids themselves but the cost of getting prescription hearing aids. When you get a prescription for hearing aids, there can be several steps in the process that come with a hefty price.
Not only will you have to pay for your doctor, but specialists called audiologists will need to administer expensive hearing tests to gauge what level of hearing loss you have. There are advantages in having these tests run and getting specific diagnostics for your hearing condition. One big advantage being that you can get hearing aids that are specifically programmed to your exact hearing needs.
“A visit to your primary care doctor is not enough, you should see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist before seeing an audiologist. An audiologist cannot make a medical diagnosis or recommend medical treatment, that has to be done by an ENT.” - Drew Sutton, MD, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist.
Advantage of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
The process of getting prescription hearing aids may present a financial burden. This is why over-the-counter hearing aids can be the better option if you are looking to save on cost.
Audien Hearing has worked hard to produce quality, professional-grade hearing aids that can impact your life by improving your hearing. On top of the price being more affordable for most people at $89-$249, they offer comfort and the ability for you to hear crystal clear conversations wherever you may be.
Purchasing Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
When you are considering purchasing over-the-counter hearing aids, we completely understand that you may have concerns or questions about getting started. Because hearing loss is such a prevalent disability, the market for hearing aids can be daunting, and we want to help give you peace of mind.
The number one advantage to purchasing over-the-counter hearing aids is that they won’t cost you the thousands of dollars like prescription hearing aids will. Depending on your level of disability and insurance, the option of purchasing prescription hearing aids may not even be an option altogether.
We suggest that when looking to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids, make sure that you are looking at a manufacturer who is willing to give you a satisfaction-guarantee. Don’t spend your money on them if they aren’t willing to stand behind their product like this.
What Exactly Is the Difference?
When purchasing over-the-counter hearing aids, you need to know the differences between prescription, over-the-counter and general noise amplifiers.
For prescription, we have already discussed that these are uniquely programmed to your specific hearing needs, which means that they don’t amplify all frequencies equally. Because of the diagnostic testing, these machines will be programmed to help you hear only the frequencies you struggle to recognize.
Over-the-counter hearing aids won’t have this unique programming. However, you should be looking at purchasing hearing aids that do help filter out background noise and amplify more common sounds around you.
That is how over-the-counter hearing aids will differ from general noise amplifiers. An amplifier is actually not a tool designed for hearing loss at all. It is simply a device that takes all noises and amplifies them and can be used by anyone. Our devices do have background noise filtering capabilities, but it is not dynamic; we set hard caps on frequencies that are highly likely to be background noise and reduce/eliminate the amplification of those sounds.
It can be intimidating to look at purchasing a hearing aid, and it is normal to have questions when looking at over-the-counter options. Audien’s high-quality hearing aids are rechargeable and have many capabilities such as 20 hours of sound with each charge, four different tip sizes for the perfect fit, and are perfectly shaped for maximum comfort. You won’t have to break the bank when buying over the counter hearing aids with Audien as we make it very affordable. Comfort and state of the art technology for less, that’s a win-win!
Degrees of Hearing Loss | Hearing Health Foundation
Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplifiers: Know the Difference | fda.gov
CDC's Disability and Health Overview | CDC
Quick Statistics About Hearing | NIDCD
What Is an Audiologist | Audiology.org