Hearing Aids: Cost vs. Benefit
Current technology has reached the point where many of the negative issues of the past no longer apply. Hearing aids are generally automatic and cosmetically nearly invisible depending upon the chosen style. Cost varies depending upon the type and degree of loss, life style, and budget. Generally, they cost from about $1000. to $2700. each with many levels in between, including a two year repair and loss and damage warranty. All hearing aids have a minimum 30 day trial period, during which they can be returned for any reason if they are not satisfactory.
High technology hearing aids have faster processors and are more comfortable in noisy environments, but the level of technology depends a great deal on lifestyle. Hearing aids are programmed to individual requirements on a computer, and adjustments are generally made as the person’s brain adjusts to new sounds. Many aids have blue tooth capabilities so that they wirelessly connect to devices such as phones, computers, MP3 players, and televisions.
In choosing a dispenser, the most important thing to consider is that the device itself is not important as the expertise and commitment of the person who fits and services it. Studies show that ~90% of people fit with appropriately programmed hearing aids report improved communication and quality of life.
Hearing aids require an initial adjustment period and programming changes as the person learns to use new sounds. This typically takes from a few weeks to months; people get better with practice.
Two aids are usually better than one. The brain uses both ears to localize sound and to understand high frequency information, particularly in noisy environments. Having just one side amplified can present some safety concerns and may make it difficult to function adequately in extremely noisy places.
Hearing aids come in many different styles. They are chosen based upon the type and degree of hearing loss, personal preference, lifestyle, manual dexterity, and cost. It’s an individual choice made in collaboration with the audiologist. Two aids are usually preferred and much more effective than one because the brain uses both ears to listen effectively in noise, find the location of sound, and decipher soft high frequency consonants in noisy and reverberant places.
Most insurance does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but you should check with your insurance carrier to see if there is any coverage. Medicare does not cover hearing aids or testing done in order to purchase them. The audiologist has a list of potential funding sources that will be shared with you if necessary during your appointment.