HearUSA Experience

I presently have Oticon Alta Pro ITC aids purchased in June 2013. I am considering new hearing aids for better performance in noise(restaurants) and speech recognition in general. I also sing in the choir so hearing tones as well as the conductor’s instructions are also factors to consider. My insurance requires that I go through HearUSA for a free hearing test and $500 toward hearing aid purchase.This post is about my experience and impression of HearUSA.

The actual test was fairly standard except the lowest frequency was 500Hz instead of 250 Hz. The audi then recommended the Signia Pure Primax 7 px for me and had me try on a pair of the RIC style. She said that the RIC would perform better in noise than the ITC which I preferred. The price for one aid was $4295. However they are having a two for one special until September that results in a price per pair of $4295. This special also applied to the Insio primax ITC style. Of course an ear impression would be required for the ITC version.

I then asked about $500 insurance allowance and was told that the price would remain at $4295. I may need to ping the insurance provider about this. I then specifically asked her about making adjustments to optimize performance in noise. Her response was something to the effect the performance in noise is always an issue but did not indicate she knew how to make adjustments to achieve the best performance in noise. Also she was not a hearing aid user which according to other posts might be another negative.

I asked if they carried other brands such as Resound, Rexton, and Oticon. She said they did not have an arraignment with Resound or Oticon and she preferred Signia over Rexton even though they are owned by the same parent company. It appears that this HearUSA location is a one brand shop.

In conclusion, I left feeling I would be better off dealing BuyHear or FactoryDirectHearing , both for price and service.

Hi, Evan.

May I ask why you think you might need ITC’s? Sure, the Alta Pro’s might whistle like mad in a RIC with your loss, but newer aids (OPN, and equivalent from other manufacturers) should be just fine as RIC’s. BuyHear can do molds, I know, but why?

Just to be clear, the $500 allowance from your insurance company means that they give you $500 to pay toward the purchase of your HAs from HearUSA? Or do you pay your insurance company $500 out of your pocket and they pay the remaining balance of whatever it is to HearUSA? I’m assuming it’s the earlier but I just want to confirm. If the earlier, then it’s a racket between HearUSA and your insurance company because for all you know, HearUSA could just rack up their (real) price by $500 and after your insurance company gives you the $500 allowance toward the purchase, HearUSA can simply reimburse that $500 to your insurance company under the table and your insurance company doesn’t lose a dime and HearUSA gains a customer. If it’s the later then it’s a very sweet deal, but then it’s too good to be true and no way your insurance company would fork out $8,100 to pay for 2 HAs priced at $8,600.

In general, the RIC can have more than 1 mic per HA and can do better directional pickups with multiple mics, and also take advantage of having 2 mics to do a better job of noise reduction than a 1 mic ITC. So your audi has a valid point in recommending RIC over ITC for you if your goal is better performance in noise. You can also avoid needing molds so it’s just easier to trial different RICs because there’s no cost/investment for custom molds if you’re not sure if you’re keeping the HA or not. RICs can also house bigger circuits so the more premium HAs that need the space for bigger circuits due to more powerful processing tend to be in RICs and not ITCs.

Thank you chatteremail. One reason I prefer ITC’s is the interference with my glasses with the RIC style. The other reason is because my previous Audi (Doctor of Audiology) was promoting OPNs but said I should wait for Oticon to come out with custom styles which he thought would be better for me. Maybe he was wrong. In any case I am becoming more open to going with a RIC style.

The way the insurance(Anthem Senior Secure HMO) worked in the past the HA provider quoted a price (say $6000) and the insurance paid them $500 leaving a balance of $5500 for me to pay.

My current ITC HA has two mics per HA as do the Signia Insio 7 px ITC. The ITC version is definitely lager than CIC or IIC styles that usually have one mic. I agree it is more hassle to try and buy custom styles. I am becoming more open to the RIC style even though I don’t like the interference with my glasses. Thanks for your response.

The OPN relies on having 2 mics on each HA, one for an omnidirectional view and the other for a back facing cardiod beam, to do two types of noise reductions: 1) the balancing of the sounds around you (using a minimum-variance distortionless response or MVDR beam forming using both mics) so that noise is attenuated to improve speech signal to noise ratio, and 2) use the back facing cardiod beam to create a noise model to feed into its noise removal module for a secondary noise removal system that’s fast enough to remove noise between words. So it’s fundamental to the OPN strategy to have 2 mics on the HA in a very well placed position, and usually that’s on an HA that sits behind your ear.

The bottom line is that I’m not so sure if having 2 mics in an ITC or CIC configuration can implement this noise removal strategy as effectively as its current OPN RIC configuration or not. The positioning of the 2 mics in the current OPN RIC configuration may be critical and the positioning of the 2 mics in an ITC may be less than ideal to be as effective for the OPN strategy to work. Maybe that’s why Oticon hasn’t come out with an ITC configuration for the OPN yet, even a year later after its introduction already. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the ITC version of the OPN if I were you, unless your audi has it from good authority somewhere from the Oticon channel that there really is going to be an ITC version coming out soon. Don’t just take your audi’s wishful thinking opinion on it.

Another thing I wonder is because its Velox platform is so processing intensive, they may not be able to really miniaturize the chip small enough to package it into the tiny space of an ITC yet. Of course eventually they may be able to get there, but the question is how long do you want to wait for it? As of today, Oticon is not even able to release something as simple as the long promised ConnectClip streamer for its Android phone using customers yet. So I wonder if Oticon is even thinking about miniaturizing the OPN into an ITC at the moment.

Getting a pair of PX 7 from a b&m instead of mail order is IMO a decent deal. Those with custom molds would give you a much better out come. Don’t worry over the 500 somehow the insurance companies never really pay it.

Thank you for the reply Volusiano. This certainly gives me a lot to think about

Thank you Doc Jake. I appreciate your input.