If you’re one of the 28.8 million U.S. adults who could benefit from using hearing aids (NIDCD), it is good to know that it is an investment. The technology can range between $1,000 to $6,000 for each device, and most hearing aid users require two devices (one pair). Hearing aids are devices that make a very important contribution to the well-being of a person with hearing loss. So, it’s important to take into account that hearing aids-like glasses-improve your quality of life every single day, and there is an important benefit in that.
What Is Factored into the Costs of Hearing Devices?
An array of factors goes into the cost of hearing aids. These include the materials used to create the device, the computer chips and their programming, specialized fitting (which is generally conducted by an audiologist or hearing care expert), aftercare such as cleaning, tune-ups, maintenance, and repair.
Another key factor in hearing aid cost is the level of technology it is equipped with. If your hearing is profound, you may require a device with extra features and additional power. Depending on your lifestyle you may want hearing aids that can help you hearing in noisy environments or connect to your smart phone for clear phone call conversations. Additionally, hearing aids can have specialized features to help those with ear ringing (tinnitus) and for those with specialized listening needs such as musicians.
Will insurance cover the cost of hearing aids?
There are a number of insurance plans that cover some of the cost of hearing aids. What plans cover, and for whom varies from company to company and plan to plan. Even within one company, they may have different coverage based on your selected coverage plan. Is essential to check with your specific plan to be sure what coverage you carry. Check with your hearing care provider before your appointment to see if they offer insurance verification services.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), these states legally require private insurers to pay for hearing aids for adults and children:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
These states require private insurers to pay for hearing aids for children only:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
Medicare and Hearing Coverage
Despite the fact that many seniors require hearing aids, Medicare generally does not cover hearing aids or hearing aid evaluations with an audiologist. Medicare Part B does cover some diagnostic testing with referrals from a primary care provider. Check your state’s plan for more details.
Medicaid often covers hearing aids for adults, and always covers them for children. See this explanation from ASHA for additional information.
Medicare Advantage Plans and Hearing-Related Costs
ManyMedicare patients have supplemental plans, called Medicare Advantage Plans. When choosing between plans, it’s important that you check what coverage there may be for hearing aids. You can change plans once a year during the annual enrollment period if your plan doesn’t have coverage for hearing care or hearing aids.
New Legislation to Change the Hearing Aid Market
New guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may change the hearing aid market completely once passed and finalized. Under the proposed rule, announced in October 2021, hearing aids will soon be available Over-The-Counter (OTC).
This rule was proposed to increase American market competition for the devices, and is expected to lower the cost of devices or those with mild or moderate hearing loss in the U.S. Once these guidelines go into effect, the United States will be the first country to have a regulated market forOTC hearing aids. OTC hearing aids are not designed to replace hearing technology for the population who have very severe hearing loss.
Is it Worth the Cost?
Hearing loss does have costs associated with it. People with untreated hearing loss earn less than their hearing counterparts. There are also intangible costs related to missing out on what is being said around you, whether at a meeting, a doctor’s visit or a grandchild’s school play.
Our patients report improved outcomes and quality of life with the use of hearing aids. In addition, they feel more connected to their loved ones and are better able to carry out their activities of daily living with less anxiety and feelings of social isolation.
Patients who work often comment that it is easier to understand in meetings and people who hear better feel more independent than their counterparts with untreated hearing loss.
Lifespan of Hearing Aids
While the average lifespan of each hearing aid device varies based on manufacturer, use, storage, and how well they are maintained. Audiologists estimate a hearing aid will last between 2-7 years. Both in education and commercial environments, experts are always researching both hearing loss and the technology used for advancements. Companies that make hearing aids frequently offer new and improved enhancements that encompass the latest technology and scientific understanding of hearing loss. The hearing aids of your grandparents-clunky, heavy and not very effective-are nothing like the minicomputers for your ears that help you decipher a wide variety of sounds.
Where Should I Purchase a Hearing Aid?
To purchase a hearing aid, first schedule diagnostic hearing tests with licensed, experienced professionals at Estes Audiology clinics. With over 220 clinics nationwide, our compassionate hearing care team can outfit you with the right hearing aids for your listening and lifestyle needs as well as your budget. Find a clinic near you today to get started.