Can someone help the new guy with the hearing aid world?

63 YO old male who has decided to ignore the vanity and get some aids. Running a RnR club for years where the minimum amp output was dialed to 10 has finally caught up to me; I’m tired of saying, “repeat?”

I’m not looking for brand recommendations here (yet), but rather some general direction. From my limited research, it appears that HA pricing is akin to the Wild West. I will be a private pay customer and have the money, but, have no plans to lay out 4 grand or more for a set of hearing aids. I am one of the 2 lone people in the world who are no longer part of Costco, so, don’t see that as an option currently. (Costco is ok, they just aren’t the end all for me as they are for a lot of people.) My healthcare provider did my testing but is backed up for a few weeks on consults. My insurance partners with Ampliphon, but, I am increasingly seeing that as kind of a gimmick. I am not afraid to negotiate pricing and feel I can go anywhere and get Ampliphon pricing if I drive a hard enough bargain.

My questions here: How many models should I test before choosing? Should my consults be with an audiologist or with a hearing aid specialist? What is the average usage life (not lifespan , rather how long do you keep a set of aids) before getting another set?

thanks for any help.

I’d say 3-7 grand is pretty standard pricing for a set of hearing aids, with the higher end simply buying you more features. Comparable to trim levels on a vehicle. Bear in mind that this is what they call “bundle” pricing, which includes a lot of additional service. My audiologist will provide twice yearly adjustments and cleanings for the life of the aids. Make sure you find out what is included in the bundle.
You can unbundle and save some money if you’re prepared to self program your aids. There is a whole subsection of this forum dedicated to that.
My experience has been that audiologist vs. HAS makes very little difference. The provider can make all the difference in the world, and is more important than brand, but the certificate or diploma they hold is of little consequence.
I replace my aids every three years, but only because that’s what my insurance covers. There are some here who have had their aids for much longer.
And finally, welcome to the forum! If you stick around you’ll certainly learn a lot here. I know I have.

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Also, don’t write off Costco. The savings on the aids will more than offset the membership fee.

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Thank you for the info.

My apologies in advance if I offended anyone with my original wording. I received a private message that I came across as arrogant about Costco and the term “private pay”. My meaning was I am no longer a member of Costco; they were fine, but with just my wife an myself, I no longer buy the quantities of stuff they offer and didn’t see that as a current option.

“Private pay” was just that, no insurance. Believe me, I am not loaded and trying to save some money. If Costco fits my budget, Costco here I come.
.

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Be very careful what you say about Costco. Some people find that to be a sensitive subject. So that’s lesson number 1. So your next step would be a hearing test usually given by an audiologist. If you can get a copy of your hearing tests, audiogram, and post it on this forum, that will make it easier for people to guide you to certain aids. I’d like to say trial as many aids as you can but some audiologists will charge for that. I usually trial at least 3 and my audiologist has offered more but he doesn’t charge for that. Don’t be surprised if each aid sounds quite a bit different. That’s the way it works with heating loss. And don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on someone with a similar loss to yours raves about a particular aid. That’s not how it works in the hearing world. You’re at the beginning of what may seem like a tedious adventure. But if you take your time and come back here and ask questions and don’t rush, you’ll be happy with the results. Also the first time you try on a pair of aids it will sound like the whole world is screaming at you. The brain needs time to adjust. It’s been ruining for years at louder than normal volume to try to compensate for your loss. It wii now need time with the new aids to tone it back down

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Baloney. Obviously you meant no offense - and objectively, your words were not offensive. But many folks these days have the proverbial hair up the proverbial back side location. It’s gracious of you to acknowledge, but probably better just to ignore.

Everybody’s experience will be somewhat different and so the opinions will also be accordingly. You will notice though that there are some common themes. The first is that you need to be working with someone who is highly competent, and those people are sometimes hard to find in the maze of options. A very significant number of folks just accept what is recommended, without realizing that there are actually distinct differences between instruments and that often patients are “first fit” at ~80% of their target and not taken any further because fitters/manufacturers know how long it can take to actually acclimate. But the patients are happy with their result anyway because of the comparative improvement they initially experience; that’s fine and good but there is value that was paid for being left on the table. This also points to the inherent risk with strictly buying on price, when full value potentially involves much more.

You will also find that various instruments have a different “sound” that goes beyond simply gains to meeting your audiogram targets; there is a subjective experiential dimension that can make the sound of an instrument be very different for two people with the same loss on paper. That is why it can really pay off in satisfaction and value to trial several HA’s.

If you have a technical bent, it can also be quite beneficial to learn about the fitting process and tools and even accessories for the HA’s you’re interested in. Not necessarily to the extent of DIY, but a grasp of what the Audi is doing makes you a more knowledgeable patient and can make your Audi/trial more productive. For myself, this helped me to determine I needed to fire my Audi and find a new one.

Next, really think through your needs and expectations, and be prepared to clearly articulate those to whomever you consult. A good HIS/Audi will listen carefully, can make suggestions and will explain why - if all three don’t happen, find someone else. The typical 4-week trial period is often really not enough to reach a best conclusion (let alone 2-weeks which is ridiculous). So think about representative test cases where you can experience the instruments in all the situations most important to you. Keeping notes can be useful when you need to compare different HA’s.

I’ll add one note about Costco, because as you’ve already gleaned there are a lot of happy Costco patients (my first HA’s were Phonak’s from Costco) and it offers the distinct advantage of a 6-month no-questions return policy which nicely facilitates having a good trial. The downside is that the HIS may have limited training and experience, so sometimes it’s necessary to find another HIS in that store or even another store. What you save in the price may need to be compensated for somewhat with a larger investment of your time.

Finally, as @hass5744 advised, be patient. You’ve begun what is probably for most the first time out, a steep climb. The cliche about “it’s a journey” often applies with HA’s and providers.

HTH. Good luck!

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You said nothing offensive in your original post, and I find it interesting that someone private messaged you rather than posting their opinion for all to see. But this is the internet and you’ll meet all kinds.

I’d like to add that I usually recommend first timers visit an ENT (otolaryngologist). They will make sure that your hearing loss is not related to some larger problem that would otherwise go unnoticed.

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@Clayman: You didn’t say nuttin wrong! Welcome to the forum.

@hass5744 and @mingus have pretty well summed it all up. Don’t underestimate how much relearning the part of your brain that hasn’t been receiving auditory signals will have to do!

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Thanks for the support Gang. I am in sales and have thick skin. It didn’t bother me, but, I thought being the new guy here I didn’t want to start out on the wrong foot. I’m not anti-Costco. they simply no longer meet my needs. (I know I am in the minority!)

I did see an OTO and got the audiogram. Now, the challenge is to find someone who can fit and recommend the right appliance. My healthcare group is backed up on appointments due to staffing shortages, so, am looking at independent audi firms. Again, pricing is a factor, but, I have no problem saying, “No, that’s too much. I will give you this much.”

We all have to make a living; I just want to make sure that I am not paying for someone to make the equivalent of 3 livings.

Well we don’t know what your hearing loss looks like or what your needs are but don’t be surprised when you hear the term thousands of dollars for a pair thrown around. As was stated previously. Yes those numbers are pretty scary but that’s the reality of hearing aids. Which is why many go to Costco. They have the lower prices and 6 month trial period. But if Costco is out try looking for an audiologist. Usually a consultation is free

If you go the Costco route, sign up for the Executive member. It’s an extra $50, but you get a check back at the end of the year that will pay for the membership with a purchase as lasagne as hearing aids.

Also, look into Internet providers, such as ziphearing.com. That’s how I got mine and I saved about $2K.

Depending on your hearing loss and your preferences, you may want to stream directly to your hearing aids from your phone and/or your TV and/or other devices. So connectivity may factor into your choice.

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Imo, it’s not so much of the brand or how much cost is involved, I’ve been wearing ha’s for 12 years now, I have been to 5 different audiologist before I found one that was genuinely concerned about my hearing loss , “ALOT of white coats out there” He took the time to fit the right ha and adjusted them to my specific loss. Finding the right audiologist is much more challenging than searching the brands, which is quite challenging because of all the secrecy behind their products, it also depends on your life style as to what selection is YOUR personal best for you, so what’s good for some may not be the best choice for you.

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They Live among us…They correct our spelling, grammar and punctuation. They get offended easily. Hopefully, they get offended and leave…anyway, ignore the B.S.
Welcome to the forum. There is a ton of information here.
I’ve been using hearing aids over 40 years and am learning all the time on this forum.
Best wishes,
Dan

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I live alone, and my nearest Costco is a 45 mins drive one way. I have no need of a membership. EXCEPT it is well worth it for hearing aids! $1499 for a pair, vs. over $4000 elsewhere? No question, best deal around, for me.

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Clayman, my one thought here is that you clearly are into music and so while you may not want to shell out a ton of money for the best HA, but your music listening experience be dramatically better or worse depending on what you choose. I’d recommend trying a nice high-end HA as you look around, just so you’re aware of the difference between the lower and higher ends.

Hi Clayman, welcome to the forum. There is a lot of knowledge and experience people have here, I am sure you will find the answers you are seeking.

My thoughts about your questions are the following: depending on your loss, you may be a candidate for frequency lowering technology. Different manufacturers use different ways of doing this to enable folks who can’ hear high frequencies to still get the information. For example, Phonak and Oticon use different methods–some folks prefer one, some prefer the other. The exact training of your fitter is less important than their ability to listen to your needs and their ability to incorporate this information into how they set up the aids. With your background in Sales, you probably can tell in a heartbeat about this. I think average usage life in hearing aids is like cars (but shorter in elapsed time). Some buy new hearing aids every couple years to take advantage of the newest developments. Others keep aids for a long time. I read once that 5-7 years is the average, but the range is very wide. Mine are going on 8 years old and I have no plans to upgrade yet–they still work well. Good luck in your research and all the best when you start trialing hearing aids!

Yup, nailed it:

  1. Work out where you need help - in the car, on the phone, in a restaurant, at a meeting etc.
  2. Find a supplier, Audio or HAS that has a range of aids from more than one manufacturer.
  3. Are you comfortable with them? If there is no empathy look elsewhere.

@BlueCrab
“…I’d like to add that I usually recommend first timers visit an ENT (otolaryngologist). They will make sure that your hearing loss is not related to some larger problem that would otherwise go unnoticed…”

I think this is pretty good advice. Everyone’s hearing loss is different. I switched from my original provider who kept pushing products on me. Don’t be afraid to look around. I would rather have a bad hip than bad hearing. I think having a good rapport with your audiologist is very important. Just my .02 cents.
HTH
JMH

Am I missing something here?

I go to a hearing aid specialist’s office this morning, she looks at my audiogram, “educates” me on the hearing aid manufacturer consortium, makes a few general observations, and thinks I would be a candidate for a pair of Starkey $4800 Livio HA’s. I get a brochure, told that the next step is to shop around, but come back, tell her I want the Starkeys, she will have them in 7 days, we can do an hour long orientation fitting appt. and I will be good to go. No, “well, here is why I recommend these or this is how they can help.” Shouldn’t I expect to actually try some differnet hearing aids on to sample what I am missing before even committing??

I note one of the features of the Starkey Livio is a language translation app. As I revelaed here earlier, I am in sales. One language I easliy recognize and don’t need an app for is doubletalk.

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