Hearing aids are one of the most popular and regularly prescribed treatments for hearing loss conditions. However, when it comes to prescription hearing aids, the price tags can be a bit expensive depending on where you go. When it comes to the incredibly high cost of hearing aids, it’s natural to look for options that won’t break the bank — and it’s also natural to have questions regarding these less expensive options.
For instance, is the price tag associated with a hearing aid indicative of its overall worth and performance as a hearing aid device? You aren’t just looking for something that you nominal; you are looking for a device that will legitimately help you overcome a very real disability in your life. The ability to hear is a precious sense that means so much to each and every person who has it. When we lose that ability, we want to ensure we are taking the best treatment option, but that doesn’t always mean a higher price tag is the “better option.”
You Are Not Alone
If you are dealing with hearing loss, the first thing to realize is that you are not alone. As you get online and google phrases like -- “best hearing aids” or “audiologist near me,” millions of others are in the same boat. As you look through different price ranges and make hard decisions regarding financial investment into this world -- a huge part of the population is doing this with you.
Hearing loss is one of the most widespread disabilities in the United States. Not only that, but while hearing loss does generally affect the older population more, it is not age, gender, or race-specific. All people have a propensity for experiencing hearing loss because this disability essentially deals with an organ that is constantly working and exposed to the elements.
Our ears are sensitive, biological machines that are constantly exposed to sound each and every day. While there are protective measures like headphones or earplugs that can be used to interact with loud noises safely, the truth is that most people will experience hearing loss as a natural progression of age.
Chronic loud noises, genetic factors, and even trauma can cause us to lose our hearing prematurely. Even conditions like autoimmune diseases can result in hearing loss. What’s more, is that hearing loss isn’t just one size fits all. A person can suffer from multiple degrees and levels of hearing loss, and each one has its unique challenges.
The Process of Getting Hearing Aids
People who are dealing with hearing impairment more often than not seek medical help. They typically will be directed towards hearing aid devices for treatment. There are three different types of hearing loss that can affect a person—conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is caused when there is some kind of blockage in one or more of the three compartments of the ear. Our ears are built out of three parts -- the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Every compartment of the ear plays a very specific role in our process of hearing.
When our outer ear, which is composed of the auricle and the entrance of the ear canal, is disrupted by any foreign object, then a sound cannot naturally enter the ear canal. This impedes sound waves that naturally travel through the ear to be processed by our minds into recognizable sounds.
The middle compartment of the ear is composed of the eardrum and the tympanic cavity that houses the napes, malleus, and incus. The eardrum is meant to interact with incoming soundwaves in a way that causes these tiny bones of the middle ear to vibrate very specifically. If trauma or sickness causes inflammation or blockage -- this can result in appreciable hearing loss.
The same can be said for the inner ear, which houses the cochlea, is where the sound and vibrations are translated to electrical impulses. The presence of swelling can easily impede this delicate system, and hearing loss can occur.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is any hearing loss that is caused by deficits in the neurological aspect of the hearing process. This deals with the inner ear, the auditory brainstem, and the nerves that make up this complex system. A cochlear implant is a valid option to help overcome a damaged inner ear for many people who have severe sensorineural hearing loss.
The type of hearing loss you have and the degree to which you are experiencing that hearing loss are important to know. So when you go to a doctor, they will send you to a specialist known as an audiologist. These medical professionals will submit you to a battery of tests that will help you understand the type and degree of hearing loss you have.
The Expense of Hearing Aids
Once you have your diagnosis, you can acquire your prescription hearing aids. Now, the truly discouraging part of this process is how little help there is financially to attain your dearly needed hearing aids.
Most private medical insurance companies simply don’t cover the cost of not only getting the hearing aids but the cost of hearing tests to acquire your prescription. Many people don’t know that producing hearing aids itself isn’t a very taxing and expensive process. The reason behind price tags that cost thousands of dollars for these medical devices is the overall cost of specialists, doctors’ appointments, and testings.
For many people, this cost is as challenging as the suffering from hearing loss itself. In fact, some people cannot afford to attain hearing aids due to the lack of financial assistance that currently exists. Medicare and Medicaid now do not offer a plan that covers any part of the process of acquiring hearing aids.
Because hearing loss is considered a disability, social security does recognize it as an eligible disability for financial assistance. However, to qualify for financial aid, they must have a hearing loss threshold of 90 decibels or higher or have had a cochlear implant for over a year. These scenarios describe individuals suffering from moderately severe to severe hearing loss, which means that there are millions of people suffering from hearing loss that is not extreme enough to qualify.
A Different Option
For those looking to bypass the expensive route of specialists, testing, and doctors appointments -- over-the-counter hearing aids is a growing market with promising benefits. These hearing aids do not need a prescription to acquire, and they are generally much more affordable for people suffering from hearing loss.
What’s the Difference of Not Having Prescription Hearing Aids?
The first difference is a price tag of thousands of dollars. Someone seeking help with a disability should not be forced to consider becoming financially unstable just to try and enjoy a normal part of life as the ability to hear.
The main difference, medically, is that a prescription hearing aid will be programmed to a person’s specific needs. This means that if a person has trouble hearing mid-range frequencies at a normal decibel threshold -- prescription hearing aids will only target these frequencies. This allows the parts of a person’s hearing that is functioning normally to remain functioning -- while specifically helping amplify the areas of struggle.
Can Over the Counter Hearing Aids Be Specially Programmed?
The short answer -- no. Over-the-counter hearing aids typically fit a one size fits all model -- however that isn’t always a bad thing. At Audien, we have worked tirelessly to produce high-quality, one-size-fits-all, over-the-counter hearing aid that can impact your hearing loss journey.
One of the ways we accomplish that is by using state-of-the-art sound filter technology. Our hearing aids will help you filter out frequencies associated with sound pollution in any environment you're in. This will help you to focus on the sounds you want to hear.
Can Over the Counter Hearing Aids be Fitted to My Ear?
As of yet, we have not developed a way to make an over-the-counter hearing aid that can mold to your exact ear shape. However, we are convinced that our one size fits all hearing aid will be comfortable in anyone’s ear. We have fitted replaceable earpieces of varying sizes that help add comfort and stability to our in-ear hearing aids, and we have a satisfaction guarantee.
The journey to finding hearing aids is not an easy one. There are multiple options and benefits, and cons to almost every decision you can make. Our goal is to make an affordable, high-quality hearing aid that can be a great option for anyone suffering from hearing loss.
“Hearing loss does not have to be a disability any longer. There are many choices out there and Audien hearing aids are a good option for many of my patients.” - Drew Sutton, MD, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist.