Buyer’s guide to hearing aids
by Dr. Clint Keifer, FLT Columnist
No matter the purchase price, hearing aids that don’t work and end up in your dresser drawer are a bad investment. Unfortunately, most people are bombarded by gimmicky marketing designed to pull you in with “hooks” so that a sales commission can be made. Needless to say, your best interests are not served in this scenario. In light of this very real problem, here is a guide to seeking help for your ears:
- Trash the gimmicky advertisements – it is a red flag when “healthcare” businesses rely on gaudy bait and switch ads, free iPads or TVs, and extremely large “discounts” or coupons which only reduce the artificially inflated pricing down to levels that are still too much for what you get.
- Check credentials and ensure you see a licensed Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) – surprisingly, selling hearing aids only requires a high school diploma or equivalent; alternatively, audiology doctors receive education and clinical training from accredited universities to provide the best comprehensive hearing healthcare and hearing aid benefit to patients.
- Ask about what brand names of hearing aids are offered – the best providers offer at least three different brands to select from to better match individual needs. Ensure that the hearing aid’s programming software is not “locked” to their office or chain and can be programmed by any audiologist – you should have the option to go elsewhere for services.
- Pricing – properly fitted hearing aids include device and service charges (adjustments, prescription verification, education, and counseling). “Free service” actually means costs are shifted to higher device prices (and service is minimal). Reputable providers offer fair charges for services even when hearing aids are purchased elsewhere. In addition, audiologists can fully utilize your insurance benefit to help keep out-of-pocket costs down.
- Check reviews and references – credible websites and social media can provide helpful reviews and information, but don’t forget to ask trusted individuals and professionals in our community for whom they would recommend.
The confidence in finding a quality audiology provider allows people to move past the fear of being ripped off and onto improving their hearing and communication for a better quality of life.