I will be returning my trial TruHearing HA’s next week, for which I have coverage in a Humana Medicare Advantage plan. Here is what I learned. This is a very long post, but it covers about all the TH bases one needs to know . . .
First, just to get this detail out of the way, “Average savings of $1,100 per hearing aid”, from the TH site. Per aid pricing appears typical in the industry.
Second, there are two categories of insurance coverage, Choice and Select. I have the Select plan, with “Advanced” (tier 2) aids being $600 per and “Premium” being $1000 per; these HA’s are re-branded Signia. Their RIC (which I have) are exactly the X which was the newest tech Signia offered until a few months ago. They are not locked. The full line of Signia HA’s are offered, but only Signia.
The Choice plan is offered thru insurers that provide a certain amount of coverage for anything in the TruHearing catalog, at the discounted prices shown. I.e., you save a lot compared to typical retail, but still pay more than Select while getting much wider brand choice.
TruHearing uses a network of private providers. Because I’m in my 70’s now and am replacing old Phonak Brio’s from Costco, I am well overdue for a quality test, and my TruHearing price is in the Costco price range, I decided to give this a try. I was offered 4 names within ~30 miles, just one of which is an experienced Audiologist and she is attached to an ENT practice. I was able to research the other HIS names and was left very unimpressed. Because my experience with Costco was uneven and again my age, I thought it wise to see the Audiologist at least for the testing.
So far, all looks pretty good, including the value, i.e., tier 1 Signia X aids at an excellent price. BUT . . .
Audiologists in private practice should provide the highest level of service; theirs is a labor-intensive business model and plenty of this along with deep knowledge of the technology and brands is what you are really paying for with the extra $. An Aud in an ENT practice has a similar but different business model in that they bring new patients into the practice and help retain them as yearly return patients; this is the case with the Aud I saw. So . . . I got tested, fitted, and have had a couple return appts. Each appt I could feel eyes on the clock. I know my TH/Signia aids need a lot more tuning, but even though I have a strong tech background I’m still new to HA science and so struggled with how to best work with someone who is obviously time-pressed. I asked her which HA’s she mostly prescribes; they are Phonak and Resound, with TH being ~half-dozen of new patient candidates a month. She does not prescribe Signia otherwise. My test showed a WRS in one ear half that of the other; even she was puzzled by this, but she did not re-test. She does not do REM or speech-in-noise or tympanometry. When I asked how to mute the HA’s, she did not know. She struggled some with the app. When I asked why the Noise program was of so little help, she explained that smarts/speed between aids vary considerably and by level (although these are premium), all of which is true but with the obvious implication that you get what you pay for.
Now, don’t get me wrong. She is probably a good Audiologist on average. But she is under heavy pressure for her time, and really can only manage deep expertise with two prominent brands. TH is probably close to break-even for her and only justified by the follow-on business to the practice or providing Phonak/Resound to TH customers like me who don’t like what we got. I suspect that getting the max benefit out of HA’s is an impossibility for one individual across 4-6 brands. So something’s got to give, and that something is time.
So after working my HA problem now for several months, I have an appt with a highly-regarded Audiologist farther away who performs Best Practices. Her reviews are replete with patients who have seen her for many years; she has a large number of reviews, averaging 4.9 stars. Reviewers praise her for recommending the right HA’s for their problem, even if for a lower price. My conclusion is that if you want the best that HA’s can provide, see someone who has the expertise, communication skills, and patience that such requires. Buy the best technology you can afford from the best provider you can find. That takes homework, and great providers are in the minority, so don’t be surprised that this takes a good while.
Hopefully this is useful info for you (and others).