So what’s the deal with OTC hearing aids?
The term ‘hearing aids’ has always been reserved for products that met certain standards set by the FDA and were fit by licensed professionals with adequate training in hearing sciences. By the end of 2020, the term ‘hearing aids’ will basically be unregulated. It will be allowed to be used by any product that amplifies sound, no matter the type of technology or how it is obtained.
We see some pros and cons to this legislation being passed.
- People may obtain hearing care sooner than they otherwise would have. This could result in people realizing that amplification could improve their quality of life and seeking help sooner.
- For those who feel that ‘something is better than nothing’, OTC devices could allow people on limited or restricted budgets to obtain some degree of help.
- If more developers of technology enter the field, it could drive technology up and hopefully prices down.
- People may get an OTC product and believe it is good enough, when it is not appropriate for their hearing loss. That could leave them vulnerable to the symptoms of untreated or undertreated hearing loss such as memory loss and dementia.
- If people treat their hearing loss with OTC products, it might delay their entry into professional hearing care, again making them vulnerable to the risks of untreated or undertreated hearing loss.
- If people bypass professionals while obtaining OTC products, they may miss important medical issues either as simple as impacted wax in the ears or as complicated as surgically treatable conditions.
We believe when proper VALUE is placed on hearing loss and its treatment, properly fit hearing aids are worth every penny.
Choosing Hearing Aids
You’re an individual. You have a unique lifestyle, budget, and hearing needs. Our first consultation together will include some time to get to know each other, discuss your symptoms (like tinnitus, or ringing in the ears) and history, and evaluate your hearing. We will also explain your results in such a way that you will really understand the impact the hearing loss has started to have on your life. If hearing treatment is recommended, we will discuss your needs, then together we will choose devices that will allow you to accomplish all your hearing goals and restore proper stimulation to your brain as part of our overall treatment plan.
While there are a lot of hearing aids out there today, and more being advertised all the time, we find that it is often not fruitful for you to research every product on the market in the hopes of finding the ‘perfect’ device for you. When you are working with a qualified professional and going through a tried and true hearing restoration process, there are many possible options with which you could be satisfied and successful. Let us help you get the most out of hearing treatment!
Hearing Aid Fitting
During a hearing aid fitting, we’ll program the device to meet your specific needs. We’ll give you instructions on how to put the hearing aids in your ears and remove them, how to change batteries and how to care for and clean the devices. We’ll also review how your lifestyle affects how hearing aids function, and how to get the most benefit from wearing your hearing aids.
Wearing Hearing Aids
People are often hesitant to get hearing aids. Partly because they don’t like the thought of having to wear something else on their body all day, every day for the foreseeable future. However, no one complains about wearing shoes or shirts all day. In fact, they are such a part of life that you hardly notice you have them on.
That’s where we come in! When hearing devices are chosen for your individual needs, programmed to your prescriptive targets, adapted to over time to allow your brain time to adjust, and made to physically fit you well, they should be so comfortable that you don’t even know you’re wearing them. Soon you’ll feel like you’re missing something if you forget to put them in. We consider it a success the first time our patients tell us they accidentally walked into the shower wearing their hearing devices! (Don’t worry, most of our devices are water-resistant!)
The only way to ensure you are giving your brain the help that it needs is to wear hearing devices all day long. Let us help you accomplish that!
Restaurants chatter. Road traffic. The cacophony of leaf blowers while you’re trying to enjoy your backyard on a beautiful fall day. Background noise is a problem for everyone at one time or another, whether or not you use hearing aids. There’s no way a hearing aid can completely eliminate the sounds you don’t want to hear.
The good news? There are now hearing aids available that amplify the sounds you do want to hear and minimize some unwanted sounds.
Hearing technology today utilizes directional microphones and adaptive noise cancellation to allow you to hear the things you want and tune out the ones you don’t. When you are hearing sounds in the proper proportions, like you used to, combined with the amazing noise-cancelling technology, you will find that you can enjoy crowded restaurants once again!
How Much Should You Pay for Hearing Aids?
How much to invest in hearing aids can depend on your lifestyle. If you live alone in the woods, rarely talk on the phone, never listen to the radio or watch TV, and rarely venture out, then your hearing aid use will probably be low. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to opt for “top shelf” hearing aids.
On the other hand, if you spend time in meetings at work, like to watch TV, talk on the phone or listen to the news on the radio and you enjoy socializing with friends and family, your use is going to be high, even if you live by yourself. In fact, you’ll probably wear your hearing aids for 12 to 16 hours a day. You’ll want hearing aids that consistently perform well.
In that case, paying for high quality hearing aids is a good value and an investment in your quality of life, in your ability to stay connected and to communicate well.
What Determines the Cost of Hearing Aids?
Features and function: Like any other technology, your hearing aid price depends on the features you choose and, more importantly, what your hearing healthcare professional recommends for you. The more features and the higher level of performance you’d like, the more you’ll pay for hearing aids. Almost-invisible devices that work well across a spectrum of listening environments and are designed for someone with an active lifestyle are likely to be more costly — and work better — than hearing aids that cost less.
Are Hearing Aids Covered by Insurance?
Health insurance companies generally don’t cover hearing aids. However, diagnostic evaluations are covered if a physician orders them to assist in developing a treatment plan.
Similarly, Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids for adults. But Medicare will cover the cost of bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA), a special type of hearing device, if other coverage policies are met because Medicare has declared the BAHA a “prosthetic device” and not a hearing aid.
For eligible children and young adults ages 21 and under, Medicaid will pay for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids, under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) service. Also, children may be covered by their state’s early intervention program or State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
If you need help paying for a hearing aid, some nonprofit organizations provide financial assistance, while others may help provide affordable hearing aids with used or refurbished devices.