First HAs: Questions and Some Info on EPIC Hearing Services

Thank you to everyone for this great resource, I have rapidly progressed from total ignorance to a healthy level of confusion by reading the archives this past week!

My employee insurance policy provides financial assistance when hearing aids are obtained through EPIC Hearing Health Care. I searched for EPIC within the forums, and did not find much, so I posted another message with an explanation of how their program works. Basically, my employer pays for a chuck of the cost, and they use EPIC to administer the process. EPIC gets bigger discounts with some manufacturers than others, so all things being equal the brand of hearing aid can have a huge effect on the final cost.

EPIC referred me to a local audiologist who has a very strong relationship with Starkey. He dispenses other brands, but does not hide his long term relationship with and affection for Starkey, and a lesser degree of familiarity with other brands.

Question 1: from reading the archives, it seems that having an audiologist who is very familiar with the programming of a specific hearing aid is a big advantage. Is this true, and if so, is it enough of a reason to seek out another audiologist if I cannot go the Starkey route?

Question 2: it seems that the way EPIC works, the trial begins after the patient purchases the HA. Is this buy and try approach normal, or is this due to working through EPIC?

Question 3: This one might be the most naive, but the EPIC prices on Resound Dot2 30 and Live 9 are much lower than similarly retail priced units from other manufacturers. Has Resound lost standing since their attempted sale, and should there be any concerns about going with the brand? Do some wearers with similar hearing loss to mine find enough of a difference with Oticon, Phonak, or Seimens RICs to justify a $1,000-$1,500 difference in price for a pair?

Thanks in advance for help with navigating through this…


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Hi Michael,
I went through EPIC for these last pair of HAs and my findings are that EPIC is great on price, but a problem with the audiologist. My story is very long because I used EPIC to buy my Phonak Smart IX core HAs. The problem started when I began looking for audiologists that accepted EPIC; most in my area did not. I guess it’s because EPIC drives a hard bargain on pricing with the audis; not clear how much the insurance company picks up.

Either way I finally found an audiologist that accepted EPIC and she was 30 minutes away. She turned out to be middling audi and one who became very frustrated with my when I had problems with my HAs very quickly. I started out with the Audeo YES Vs and they were working ok but I wanted to try the Smart IXs since they had more features and had the on-board buttons.

I had lots of early problems with them, partly the complexity of the HA themselves and partly because my audi was incompetent. But after awhile I couldn’t work with her anymore, yet I felt like the Smart IXs were top of the line and, with the right audi, they could be made to work great. Also, she (or EPIC) wouldn’t let me try additional HA models. So here is another downside to EPIC, though to this day I’m not clear if that’s due to EPIC or the audi.

I decided, because these were supposedly top of the HA, that I only needed a competent audi to make them work great. So I bought them from the audi (after my trial period) and went and found an audi highly recommended by Phonak that was in my area. But I went to him for about 7 visits and while he improved their operation they still didn’t work great. I’ve since been to another audiologist who has done further adjustments. Ultimately, I think the problem is with these Phonak Smart IXs, which is why I’m now looking at the new Spice HAs. I’m also considering other HAs.

So overall my experience has actually been quite negative. I got the Phonak Smart IXs at a great price, but I don’t have a pair of working HAs that I’m really happy with. So now I’ve considered selling them on ebay and buying another pair. Or maybe negotiating with Phonak to give me a discount for the new Spice.

Michael, if you are able to find an audi you think is good and you can buy it through EPIC then you’re in good shape. Find out if he/she will let you try various brands and models to find one you like, or whether they limit you. That can be a real problem. But maybe the audi fits you with a model that you like…if so, you are way ahead of the game.

I had no other choice at the time since I couldn’t spend the $6000 on a new pair of top of the line HAs.

Let me know what you decide and how you make out.