My experience with TruHearing

I apologize in advance for the length of this but I think the lessons learned are worth sharing.

I lost hearing in my right ear around 2009 but delayed doing anything until 2015. My insurance doesn’t provide coverage but partners with a firm called TruHearing. I consulted TruHearing and they referred me to a provider near me.

I was fitted with a Starkey Z series i110 in canal device but I never really cared for it as the device kept falling out. I did return to have several modifications performed on the device, however the fit was always poor.

During this sales process, I learned that service after the sale as a TruHearing client is less than desired. While a provider may offer different packages to include free batteries, wax guards, cleaning and hearing aid adjustments, whena customer is referred to a provider by TruHearing, that provider is bound by contract to discuss only the TruHearing package with the customer. This is a scam. When a customer is spending a great deal of money on an appliance the customer should be afforded all options whether or not True Hearing sends that customer in the door. I found this out after I went to the provider for a third hearing aid program adjustment and the vendor wanted $75.00 for this and subsequent visits. When I pushed back is then that I learned of TruHearing’s policy. For this reason I would not recommend TruHearing.

There are a lot of mentions of Costco and the device they sell that is made by Phonak. That may be true however the aid is not made to Phonak standards. It’s like going to Walmart to buy a tire for your car. The salesman may offer you an off brand tire for $20 that he says is made by Goodyear (that sells for $30) but the tire is not made to Goodyear standards. You get what you pay for. I did visit Costco for a fact finding mission and was not impressed. You get what you pay for.

Just before 2019 I suffered an overnight loss of hearing in my left ear. I visited Northwestern Memorial Hospital Department of Otolaryngology in Chicago and received treatment over 2 visits of a steroid injection through the eardrum. The treatment unfortunately did not work.

I purchased a pair of Phonak V50-13 aids from the secondary market. I was fearful my hearing would again change and didn’t want to invest big money into new aids. The devices helped but I needed something more.

I visited Bellevue Nebraska the week before Thanksgiving 2019 to visit family. Since I had time I decided to shop some hearing specialists in the area, merely as fact finding. I sought out American Hearing in Bellevue. They provided, free of charge, no money up front, a pair of Phonak Audeo Marvel -70 rechargeable aids for 7 days. This is unheard of. Every provider I dealt with locally required me to pay for new aids up front but offered a 60 to 90 day money back For this reason I would not recommend TruHeari - less set up charges. I had the loaners for 4 days and new these devices greatly helped my severe hearing loss. Upon return to American Hearing, I was quoted the price and offered financing of 18 months and 0 APR. YES!!! 0% APR financing. What??? Again this is unheard of.

I wish you all the best of luck. This condition is a bitch to live with - and up until now the purchase process has been just as frustrating.

While my company Hear It All is a start up and only in one location in Texas, we are seeking to address exactly this issue! We offer unlimited trials on any brand or type of hearing aids you want to try and we would never ask the patient to pay for something they haven’t taken home yet, that combined with our low pricing is shaking things up. The industry will soon realize this is the only way to do business, let patients take whatever product they want home and experience the difference themselves without making them buy it. It just makes sense.

It appears that you never actually tried a hearing aid from Costco. What is your basis for the statement that the aid is not made to Phonak standards? Are you saying that the quality is less than Phonak or that it has fewer features than the Phonak?

Do you have any evidence to support your claim? It does not make sense that Costco would pay Phonak to make “off spec” hearing aids. I find the hearing aid business about the poorest example out there for the “You get what you pay for” claim.

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Unfortunately, many insurance providers are going with firms like Tru Hearing. I know of many providers who will not work with Tru Hearing because with a fitting through them, the provider has limited instruments to choose from, the instruments themselves are provided by Tru Hearing and the provider is paid a minimal amount for fitting the hearing aids. The limited number of adjustments is also because of the minimal fitting fee paid. Ironically, when I was consulting in Georgia one time, a patient was referred to the practice through Tru Hearing and the price they were charging was actually more than the practice would have charged without Tru Hearing. Yet if the practice would have fit the referral directly, they would have had to pay Tru Hearing $600 per heraing aid for not going through them. Unfortunately, what looks like a good deal does not always work out that way.

No I never tried them and I never would. Period.

Less features - yes - information communicated by a provider and Phonak.

If you want to buy CostCo merchandise and it works - great.

My point is that I was not impressed overall by the CostCo experience

I don’t have a problem with anyone using whatever provider works best for them. Costco didn’t work for you and that’s fine. I understand.

My question was regarding your statement that the aids weren’t made to Phonak standards. That seemed to imply that they were an inferior product. Now that you’ve clarified that your issue was not that the quality was inferior, but that they are a different model (less featured than other Phonaks) I understand. Those features are important/necessary to some people. Those of us who don’t need the features have no need to pay for them. Like buying a smart TV when you have no need for apps on it. Some would rather pay less for a TV without the features that they don’t need/want. Choices are wonderful!

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I think it’s a YMMV issue. And it’s an issue of a package deal ("~all-you-can-eat") vs. going a-la-carte and “gambling” you’re not going to need a bunch of special services.

I had a very good experience with Tru-Hearing and got connected with a very competent, very experienced and efficient audiologist. I’m happy to pay that audiologist a la carte for an annual hearing exam and REM adjustment of my HA’s. Haven’t tested my insurance coverage with her yet but an annual hearing test is covered under Medicare, AFAIK. (not so the REM). I’ve had my ears cleaned every 6 mo and had a ear infection treated at a local state medical university facility and they accepted my Medicare and supplemental BCBSTX coverage without asking for co-pay. So if you want to feel “safe,” yes, you can buy a very expensive package deal.

My audiologist has also dealt with several warranty issues or slight oversights (not turning on remote assistance for a refurbished HA) and not charged me a dime, even though I only have the limited follow-ups provided by Tru Hearing’s initial contract.

Strange when people buy cars, many people consider it crazy to ever go back to the dealer for service (although with the complexity of newer cars, it might be foolish to go to a run-of-the-mill repair shop). And I know quite a few people who consider it crazy to ever buy a brand new car but prefer to buy a depreciated one- or two-year old car, ideally one serviced by a car rental company. Yet with HA’s, the only way to go is to buy the full-package offering from “dealerships?!” - a cynical view is it might be like buying a new car with all the dealer packs that can be piled on.

I’ve also found it very economical to buy HA’s accessories for my ReSound Quattro’s through Costco. The only disadvantage there is warranty service for the item can only be obtained through Costco. And Costco will not touch any HA’s themselves not sold by them.

I did not have a good experience with Tru Hearing. The provider did not do a good job handling my complex issues, nor programming the hearing aid. And I was stuck, paying for visits to another provider. At this point I am living with hearing aids that I still think should work better in complex or noisy environments. They are top of the line resound quattros. I think I will do Coscto next time. I wish the industry was not so reliant on sales and marketing. Lesson learned, the provider must know the software extremely well. My husband went to a different provider who had been in the Tru Hearing network in the past, but not anymore. They gave him the same price ( even $100 less) than what Tru Hearing was charging, and they include at no cost all the support you need down the line. There is no limit on visits.

The features that Costco leaves out are typically optional features that the large majority of users do not need or want. Their business model is to serve the very large majority of people, but not everyone.

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Given your low-frequency loss, you probably have a pretty occlusive fit, which helps prevent noise from bypassing your HA processing and going directly to your ear drums - but if you don’t have a very occlusive fit, e.g., custom molds with small vent size, that could be the source of your problems. I have decent low-frequency hearing so my initial fit by my audi was the typical industry “open fit,” well-vented domes that allowed lots of low-frequency noise to go directly to my ear drums. Going to an occlusive fit with custom molds greatly improved my hearing experience in noisy places. Since people with SNHL are typically more sensitive to a given level of noise than normal hearing people, i.e., a hearing aid cannot restore your discrimination ability completely to that of a normal hearing person, increasingly so with increasing loss, typically things that improve signal-to-noise ratio, such as using the directionality capability of your HA’s or using a remote microphone, help you cope better with understanding speech in noise. You don’t say if the Restaurant program (which allows you to specifically invoke directionality under your control in the Smart 3D phone app) or a remote microphone such as the Multi Mic were tried. Since my Quattro’s are my first and only HA’s, I have no basis for comparison but with the occlusive fit, using the Restaurant program and/or my Multi Mic, I’ve gotten by pretty well in very noisy environments. I think because of the amplification factor, high-frequency noises, especially sudden ones, are always going to sound louder than you remember them from your bygone normal hearing past. Another tip to dealing with speech-in-noise, is DO NOT CRANK UP NOISE SUPPRESSION TO THE HIGHEST SETTING. The STRONG setting is supposed to be used in very noisy environments without speech. ReSound in its (free to auditors) Audiology Online courses says that the strongest noise suppression available in the 3D app will begin to degrade human speech understanding. So I never set noise suppression to more than CONSIDERABLE if I am listening to someone in a very noisy environment.

I have a multi mic - I use it one on one ( ie someone wearing it ) but if I lay it on the table it does not seem to help at all. I just cannot sort anything out. The restaurant mode does not seem to improve things either. Mostly I stay with all round.

Thanks for the tips, maybe I need more occlusive domes, at least in restaurants. I use domes that are tulip domes, as they are the most comfortable and I can tolerate them longer.

I think how well any standard dome works depends a bit on the cross-sectional shape of one’s ear canals and also the relative “bore diameter” as the domes are made only in certain sizes - my two ear canals are of different sizes, too. When I was trying domes, it took me a while to realize that a medium dome would work for the right ear but the left ear required a small dome. And then since domes are made in only certain incremental diameters, I had the Goldilock’s problem of finding just the right size for each ear, not too big, not too small. Since some dome manufacturers have diamters that are a bit off the standard sizes, switching brands, if they’ll work on your receiver ends is a way of finding a fit that at least doesn’t allow leakage around the outside of the dome because it’s too small for your ear canal diameter at the point of insertion into the depth of your ear canal. My comment is more of a general one on finding a dome that makes one happy versus a solution to noise problems with the Quattro.

On the Multi Mic, I really appreciated its value after an experiment with my wife in which we stood next to our Jenn Air stove top exhaust fan roaring away. I had the HA’s set to streaming only. But holding the Multi Mic pointed at a 45 deg angle at waist level or so, with her standing about 2 feet away, I could understand her quite clearly with the fan roaring away just to my left (with occlusive custom molds). Not quite a restaurant test as restaurant noise has a lot of sharp sudden noises that aren’t filtered out as well as a droning fan and any loud noises can bounce around even into a unidirectional mic. Someone ought to come up with a Multi Mic-like device that could be in a smartwatch or a bracelet so it’s there, most people don’t realize it’s there, and one could make use of it without being seen to be pointing strange objects at people!

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