Hearing Aid Discounts: Where and How to Evaluate Them?
For people who have hearing loss, purchasing a hearing aid is an investment. It may not completely restore hearing but it restores the quality of life the user had before the hearing difficulties. Along with this, impacts of hearing loss such as emotional and social, and economic are prevented. Children who have hearing loss may also suffer from a learning disability like delayed speech because of their inability to hear sounds. Adults may feel isolation and the way they communicate with people at home or at work may be compromised.
According to the World Health Organization, people who have hearing loss can be supported through early detection of the condition, use of assistive hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants, sign language and through educational and emotional support. Among these, hearings aids are the easiest to access, however, not necessarily affordable. Hearings aids averagely cost $1000 to $6000 per and the average lifespan of a hearing aid on daily use is three (3) years. The cost of batteries which must be replaced every 3 to 5 days must also be factored in at around $30 and up on each ear, per year, for an average use of 16 hours per day.
With all these costs that come with it, most people with hearing loss no longer resort to the use of assistive hearing devices like hearing aids to help them hear better again. According to the data from healthypeople.gov of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, there are roughly 3 in every 10 people with hearing loss are using hearing aids and the significant number of non-users is attributed to its cost. With almost no insurance company covering the purchase of hearing aids, hearing loss sufferers and their families are in constant search of ways to get discounts for their purchase.
Where Can I Get Discounts for My Hearing Aid?
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Most literature on the internet would tell you that your insurance will not cover your hearing aids, that may be true but there are still ways to actually lessen the cost. Originally, Medicare Parts A and B do not cover fitting and hearing aids, however, now that some private health insurance companies are also partners and brokers that offer Medicare Advantage, some plans under Medicare Advantage can already partially cover costs of hearing exams, fitting and hearing aids. It is very important to compare plan coverages before acquiring one and if you already have one, check with your insurance if your current plan covers it and if there is a way to include it for an additional premium. This add-on will still be much cheaper compared to the discount you can get.
Aetna, an insurance provider also has insurance plans that may cover a portion of the cost for hearing exams and hearing aids. If you are currently a policyholder, you may want to verify if your plan covers it.
Stick to the Features That You Need
Many hearing aids will entice you with its advanced features and connectivity like app controlled volume, Bluetooth connectivity for direct-on-hearing-aid listening experience and personal alerts but each and every additional feature translates to additional costs. Comparing hearing aids in the market, the basic ones with built-in physical buttons are around $300 less than the ones controlled by an app, so do the math. That is a minimum of $600 savings on both ears.
The type of hearing aid has an impact on the price as well, the smaller it gets, the higher the price. For mild hearing loss sufferers, you do not necessarily need the smaller ones like in-the-ear (ITE) or in-the-canal (ITC) unless you can better function or perform your job by using one. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are still the most economical option and the easiest one to maintain and repair.
Companies may offer the same technology, same features but there will always be one that offers the least cost for the same functions. Take your time researching and comparing different brands. Take note of occasional promos that come up with and the freebies that come with the purchase. There are hearing aid companies that offer free batteries and that can save you a lot too.
There are also partner websites that offer discount codes and discount coupons, these websites are usually resellers, hearing specialists and hearing loss blogs. Your audiologist may also have a partner and preferred brand where he has special discounts and privileges.
Check Out State-based or Nationwide Hearing Support Centers
Since the government provided medical insurance for low-income citizens and generally, most insurance does not cover the full amount of hearing aids, there are state-based hearing centers which have partnered with hearing aid manufacturers. For example, Minnesota Benefit Association is a non-profit organization that offers exclusive benefits programs for their members who are public employees and elected officials, current and retired, in the state. Other states have the following organizations you can explore discounts from:
State-based support organizations
California Department of Social Services
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services – California State Department of Rehabilitation
Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California
Central Oklahoma Association for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired
Cleaveland Speech and Hearing Center
Colorado Center for Hearing, Speech and Language
Heart Springs – Kansas
Idaho State for the Deaf and the Blind
Maine Center on Deafness
Nationwide support organizations
Lions Club International
Starkey Hearing Foundation
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Consider Buying Refurbished Hearing Aids
If you want to go for a really cheap option without compromising the quality, then refurbished hearing aids might be the best option for you. Refurbished hearing aids are those that have been used for a short period of time during demonstrations or those that have been returned within the trial period for any reason. These hearing aids undergo thorough cleaning of its electronic parts, replacement of plastic casing and it can still be adjusted to the new owner’s requirements and needs.
There are companies who specialize in distributing refurbished hearing aids that can save you around 50% to 70% of its original cost. Hearing aids like behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver-in-canal types are the best options and the most widely available refurbished hearing aids. It is obviously easier to replace the earmolds or receiver plugs of these types and custom fit to the new user.
From $1000 for a basic brand new hearing aid, a piece of a refurbished one costs $300.00 and up, that saves you $700 per ear while addressing your hearing problems. Your top considerations when purchasing a refurbished hearing aid are as follows:
Reliability of the distributor
Go to a reputable refurbished hearing aid store or hearing loss organizations, they have plenty of hearing aids to choose from.
Coordination with your Audiologist
If you intend to purchase online, make sure you coordinate the specifications of the hearing aid you intend to buy with your Audiologist to make sure that he can calibrate to your needs.
Are you willing to settle for an older model with an older technology for a lower price? Or are you willing to pay a little extra if a refurbished one is more advanced? With the ample options you have even with the refurbished ones, you still might get your self a hearing aid with nice features at a cheaper price.
The most important thing that should not be compromised when buying a refurbished hearing aid is the warranty. Unlike brand new ones, preloved ones might have unseen (or heard) defects upon purchase. At least 3 months warranty gets you covered.
Become a Member of Hearing Loss Support Organizations
Always acknowledge that help for people with hearing loss is around and available and the best place to seek help from are the organizations established for them. If you are seeking discount options for hearing aids, becoming a member of such organizations can extend exclusive privileges from social and emotional support, financing and member discounts when you purchase from preferred partners. Discounts start at 20% off on hearing aids, an extended trial period up to 60 days, a supply of batteries, free annual follow-up consultation and exclusive warranty plan on loss and damage. The minimal membership fee that you pay for can give you a lot of perks in return and you have better access to health care professionals in locations near you.
American Hearing Benefits (AHB) is one of the organizations dedicated to providing its members access to free consultation by a healthcare advisor and hearing aid discounts, among others. AHB is supported by Starkey Hearing Technologies, the only American-owned hearing aid manufacturing company and a pioneer in the most advanced hearing aid technologies such as Bluetooth connectivity and app-controlled hearing aids.
There are also other similar membership organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
Regaining the ability to hear and communicate normally should never be compromised because of the price tag. With the availability of discounted hearing aids through different avenues, hearing loss sufferers and family members can work together in exploring these options, because restoring the quality of hearing should be non-negotiable.