Hearing Aids

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barber
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Hearing Aids

Post by barber » Sat Jan 19, 2019 4:17 pm

I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe loss of the high frequency sounds. I feel like I'm shopping for a car. My insurance will fully pay for a basic 3 channel set(both ears) and then we proceed to the 6,9 or 17 channel. I could afford any of them so what or how does a person do that would allow for satisfaction. Trial periods are short and reviews of most firms are on the negative side. I would like advice from anyone that wears hearing aids,brand,private retailer or chain, channel numbers, etc. Thanks in advance. Please no medical advise as I have been that route getting here.

Gill
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Gill » Sat Jan 19, 2019 4:33 pm

Costco not only has good prices but they allow a six month trial period.
Gill
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mrc
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by mrc » Sat Jan 19, 2019 4:48 pm

There have been several fairly recent threads on HAs, and the utility of Costo. Try searching the board to find them. Lots of good info there already. +1 for Costco.
Science is about the pursuit of truth. That always threatens someone.

Barkingsparrow
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Barkingsparrow » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:06 pm

I know you said "No medical advice" - but have you considered a cochlear implant?

Topic Author
barber
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by barber » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:40 am

Will talk to Costco
NOT a candidate for the cochlear Thanks

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JPH
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by JPH » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:21 pm

There are so many models, types, manufacturers, etc. that you will go crazy trying to sort out advice from individuals. I have no experience with Costco, but I like the individual attention I get from my audiologist. That route cost more initially, but I have gotten good value over time. For instance, a few weeks before the warranty was to expire she noticed a slight cosmetic defect in the plastic body. She returned them to the manufacturer (Widex) and they sent me 2 brand new ones. I don't know if Costco would do that. My advice is to take your time, try several, and don't be pressured. She first presented me with the top of the line model. I asked to try a cheaper one with fewer tuning channels. She had to order one for me to try, but I could not detect any difference. Also, don't hesitate to negotiate on price. The asking price on mine was $8,890 for the pair but I paid only $4,500. Check your health insurance. Mine had only a small allowance for hearing aids. But they also had negotiated discounted rates with some other providers. I printed out those rates, and my audiologist immediately matched her price to theirs.
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baritone
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by baritone » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:33 pm

barber wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 4:17 pm
I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe loss of the high frequency sounds. I feel like I'm shopping for a car. My insurance will fully pay for a basic 3 channel set(both ears) and then we proceed to the 6,9 or 17 channel. I could afford any of them so what or how does a person do that would allow for satisfaction. Trial periods are short and reviews of most firms are on the negative side. I would like advice from anyone that wears hearing aids,brand,private retailer or chain, channel numbers, etc. Thanks in advance. Please no medical advise as I have been that route getting here.
I have, and highly recommend, the Audibel brand that broadcasts to my iPhone. Hearing phone conversations in both ears is a big help. Also most of the device is behind the ear. My previous 2 pair were worn in-ear and were never comfy.

mortfree
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by mortfree » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:36 pm

JPH wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:21 pm
She first presented me with the top of the line model. I asked to try a cheaper one with fewer tuning channels. She had to order one for me to try, but I could not detect any difference. Also, don't hesitate to negotiate on price. The asking price on mine was $8,890 for the pair but I paid only $4,500.
How much were the top of the line hearing aids??

I got mine at Costco and paid about 2200-2400 for the pair.

HIinvestor
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by HIinvestor » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:54 pm

The pairs I got for my folks were top of the line for $2600 (including tax) per pair. Insurance sent a reimbursement check for about $2000. They can get new medical insurance-covered hearing aids every 60+ months under their policy.

I was told other companies want 2x or more for similar devices. They are rechargeable and you can return them for a full refund in the 1st 6 months. You can also get a free replacement if you lose one or both sides within some time period.

If you charge it with the Citi visa and gave Executive Costco membership, you get 2% back for Exec and 1% back on the Citi visa (or higher percentage on whatever other card you use).

For them, it has been wonderful that these aids no longer swapping out batteries every week. The model we got comes with the chargers included.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Doom&Gloom » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:55 pm

I bought my first pair at a university medical center associated clinic this past summer. I paid $2600 for the HAs and the audiologist's time. I opted not to have all the bells & whistles as I knew that I would not use or appreciate them.

I do not know how many channels they are, but I would guess ~9 from viewing the graphs on the audiologist's display as he was making adjustments. For the first few months I was quite dissatisfied and suggested returning the HAs multiple times, but he kept adjusting and even extended my return window so that he could keep working to try to satisfy me. The final (so far) adjustment (in October) that sealed the deal for my keeping them was lowering the very highest frequency channel in one ear to reduce an amplification that sounded like hissing to me. I now have two settings--one with that frequency amplified higher than the other. Now when I am in an environment that becomes intolerable due to an excess of that frequency, I can switch to a setting that reduces it even farther. I am very happy with the HAs now.

Your hearing is obviously different than mine, but I doubt that I would have ever been satisfied with a 3-channel HA due to that idiosyncratic issue with my hearing. But as my audiologist kept telling me, everybody's hearing is different and requires different adjustments to achieve the optimal settings.

Good luck in your search. It can be overwhelming. My primary piece of advice would be to find a good audiologist in whom you have confidence.

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barber
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by barber » Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:56 am

Thanks for all the info. I am shocked at pricing. My insurance carrier, Federal BCBS, recommends Beltone and that was my initial contact. Basic 3 channel units $2599 per pair, fully covered.. The mid range 9 channel are $4500-$5200. The rechargeable 17 channel are $6500. These are all after my insurance discount. I am seeing a private audiologist this week and also contacting Costco.

Nowizard
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Nowizard » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:35 am

As a recent purchaser of Kirkland 8.0 at Costco, here are comments:
A close friend recommended a hearing center where he saved substantial amounts from his first two sets. My hearing aids are the same as his though labeled under the Costco brand. Mine were $1,599 a pair, and there was no tax since they are medical devices. His were $2,599, a substantial savings from his previous ones that were over $4,000. However, he also paid $200 for the hearing evaluation and $400 for follow-up adjustments. Costco charges nothing for this, offers full replacement if lost within two years and 180 return without charge for any reason. In short, it is extremely doubtful that you can beat Costco's pricing other than in a secondary market such as eBay. Costco sells, at least mine does, four brands, and the Kirkland 8.0 is their most expensive. The initial evaluation is extensive, and they use HIS (Hearing Instrument Specialist), a licensed employee, rather than audiologists. Mine told me she had worked at Sam's but preferred Costco's benefits and salary, but mainly liked Sam's and Costco because she was salaried rather than on commission. She had also worked with a private office and said the pressure to upsell was significant. The private agencies are concerned about new regulations allowing HA's to be sold OTC, and they tout the necessity for a qualified audiologist. My physician suggested that an audiologist, perhaps associated with an ENT, was desirable if there were physiological issues other than hearing loss or if there was more than the typical high frequency, moderate hearing loss. However, in most cases, he felt that was not necessary. My personal belief is that a person who evaluates, recommends and fits HA's as a licensed professional can be compared to the optometrist/Opth. and physician/pharmacist relationships. I would prefer the knowledge of the "lesser trained" one over the other depending on circumstances.


There is an adjustment period to hearing sounds not heard in a long time, some of which are annoying (Crinkling of paper, a rather "tinny" sound at first), etc. My advice would be to purchase the aids and an accessory, mine is Perfect DryLux, that you use at night. It dehumidifies the aids, something that is important during warmer months (Cost $40). Other aids such as ones that you use to stream television directly can wait until you determine if needed. The type will depend on your hearing loss, but with moderate loss you can probably use those that fit entirely in the canal. You also have to choose between two sizes. One takes a slightly larger battery that last a day or so longer and requires a slightly larger aid. You can also get an aid with rechargeable batteries. Changing them is very simple but an advantage if your hands are arthritic or you have the preference to just not change batteries. I believe that model or the accessory is approximately $300-400. Other than that, you can obtain a significant amount of information from a web site called hearingtracker.com where there are discussion groups. I found it to be a little wonky for me, however.
Good luck.


Tim
Last edited by Nowizard on Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:40 am

barber wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:56 am
Thanks for all the info. I am shocked at pricing. My insurance carrier, Federal BCBS, recommends Beltone and that was my initial contact. Basic 3 channel units $2599 per pair, fully covered.. The mid range 9 channel are $4500-$5200. The rechargeable 17 channel are $6500. These are all after my insurance discount. I am seeing a private audiologist this week and also contacting Costco.
i have no experience directly with this, but Clark Howard has talked about this site in the past as an alternative to expensive hearing aids. It's called ihear medical:
https://www.ihearmedical.com/

You can apparently do a diagnostic test from home and do adjustments to the device from home as well. If you try it, please share your experience with the group so we can learn whether it's a viable alternative to the next best option which seems to be costco.

Apparently due to new legislation regarding hearing aids over the counter (https://www.google.com/search?client=fi ... aring+aids) in 2017 the cost of hearing aids should be coming down over time. This coupled with the use of technology (like ihearmedical uses) should continue to drive prices lower. That's the hope anyway.
"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live" -- Irish Blessing | "Invest we must" -- Jack Bogle

MarkerFM
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by MarkerFM » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:28 pm

I went to Costco for hearing aids and was fitted with some that turned out to be inappropriate for my type of hearing loss. Also, the technician could never get them adjusted so they were not annoying. I returned them of course for a full refund. The somewhat scatterbrained assistant (basically just made appointments and greeted people) confided to me that she herself was going to get training to fit hearing aids!

I then went to a guy who is a Doctor of Audiology and also has a Masters in Audiology. He's board certified, and has other related qualifications. His prices were higher than Costco, but they include free lifetime care, and free batteries. He also fit me with hearing aids that work for me, and explained the difference in features, quality and cost of various models. Zero pressure to spend more than I wanted. He said, "tell me what you want to spend and I will find the best ones I can for you." I see him twice a year (could see him more if I wanted), and he replaces bits that need it and gives me batteries. He does annual hearing tests to determine if my hearing has changed. No charge at all.

So, obviously not a vote for Costco. Given that I wear the hearing aids quite a bit, the difference in the cost per unit of satisfaction is negligible.

mrc
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by mrc » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:57 pm

MarkerFM wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:28 pm
I went to Costco for hearing aids and was fitted with some that turned out to be inappropriate for my type of hearing loss. Also, the technician could never get them adjusted so they were not annoying. I returned them of course for a full refund. The somewhat scatterbrained assistant (basically just made appointments and greeted people) confided to me that she herself was going to get training to fit hearing aids!

I then went to a guy who is a Doctor of Audiology and also has a Masters in Audiology. He's board certified, and has other related qualifications. His prices were higher than Costco, but they include free lifetime care, and free batteries. He also fit me with hearing aids that work for me, and explained the difference in features, quality and cost of various models. Zero pressure to spend more than I wanted. He said, "tell me what you want to spend and I will find the best ones I can for you." I see him twice a year (could see him more if I wanted), and he replaces bits that need it and gives me batteries. He does annual hearing tests to determine if my hearing has changed. No charge at all.

So, obviously not a vote for Costco. Given that I wear the hearing aids quite a bit, the difference in the cost per unit of satisfaction is negligible.
Yikes. That sounds like a car salesman's pitch:
tell me what you want to spend and I will find the best ones I can for you.
My mom liked her free batteries that went with her $6K HAs. Turns out she doesn't mind buying batteries for the new Costco $2K pair. Free cleanings, tune ups, and follow up exams.

Individual results at individual stores will certainly vary. Even among techs your experience can vary. We were not happy with the first Costco exam, so we went to a different Costco. Later, we found the problem tech was no longer working at the closer Costco.
Science is about the pursuit of truth. That always threatens someone.

123
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by 123 » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:14 pm

Nowizard wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:35 am
As a recent purchaser of Kirkland 8.0 at Costco, here are comments:
...
Tim
Thank you Nowizard/Tim that was an excellent write-up on how the hearing aid process works at Costco.

We have a family friend who is a hearing aid user who really gets into the bells and whistles (excuse the expression) of the various hearing aid features. I think some of the technology available, like adjusting your own hearing aid frequencies via blutooth, is likely to turn-off some potential users. Some of the features that are touted make some of the devices seem too complex.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

MarkerFM
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by MarkerFM » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:19 pm

mrc wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:57 pm
MarkerFM wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:28 pm
I went to Costco for hearing aids and was fitted with some that turned out to be inappropriate for my type of hearing loss. Also, the technician could never get them adjusted so they were not annoying. I returned them of course for a full refund. The somewhat scatterbrained assistant (basically just made appointments and greeted people) confided to me that she herself was going to get training to fit hearing aids!

I then went to a guy who is a Doctor of Audiology and also has a Masters in Audiology. He's board certified, and has other related qualifications. His prices were higher than Costco, but they include free lifetime care, and free batteries. He also fit me with hearing aids that work for me, and explained the difference in features, quality and cost of various models. Zero pressure to spend more than I wanted. He said, "tell me what you want to spend and I will find the best ones I can for you." I see him twice a year (could see him more if I wanted), and he replaces bits that need it and gives me batteries. He does annual hearing tests to determine if my hearing has changed. No charge at all.

So, obviously not a vote for Costco. Given that I wear the hearing aids quite a bit, the difference in the cost per unit of satisfaction is negligible.
Yikes. That sounds like a car salesman's pitch:
tell me what you want to spend and I will find the best ones I can for you.
My mom liked her free batteries that went with her $6K HAs. Turns out she doesn't mind buying batteries for the new Costco $2K pair. Free cleanings, tune ups, and follow up exams.

Individual results at individual stores will certainly vary. Even among techs your experience can vary. We were not happy with the first Costco exam, so we went to a different Costco. Later, we found the problem tech was no longer working at the closer Costco.
Car salesman's pitch? Not at all. He said, and meant, that I needed to tell him how much I wanted to spend, and he would get me the best model that fit my needs. No pressure to spend more, no upsell on the ones that connected to my phone but would cost just a little bit more, etc. Think CarMax instead of a typical car dealership.

likegarden
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by likegarden » Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:32 pm

In a recent luncheon one friend handed out copies of a printout from Scientific American which states that only 20 % of all Americans with hearing loss actually are able to buy hearing aids. The average cost is $4,700. Deregulation in hearing aids passed last year with bipartisan support. It requires that the FDA develop a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids, including safety and reliability standards.
I have Siemens hearing aids which did cost me $3,900 several years ago. My health insurance now offers to let me buy top hearing aids (2) for less than $2,500 or so from a local provider. I might do that.

GrowthSeeker
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by GrowthSeeker » Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:37 pm

Not sure what evaluation you have had, but I would think an evaluation by an Audiologist and ENT doctor would be preferable to just being evaluated by a hearing aid salesman.
But I have no personal experience; what say those who have?
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Theseus
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Theseus » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:07 am

When I took my mother to a good friend who is ENT for hearing loss, he said if he was in my shoes he would take his mother to Costco. The purchasing power Costco wields brings their price to the consumer less than the ENT's actual cost. And the quality is topnotch.

Got my mom the top of the line (then) HAs for about $2600. She has been extremely happy.

Rupert
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Rupert » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:45 am

likegarden wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:32 pm
In a recent luncheon one friend handed out copies of a printout from Scientific American which states that only 20 % of all Americans with hearing loss actually are able to buy hearing aids. The average cost is $4,700. Deregulation in hearing aids passed last year with bipartisan support. It requires that the FDA develop a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids, including safety and reliability standards.
Yes, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids (HAs) will likely be available sometime in 2020 for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The electronics company Bose is well-positioned to dominate this new market initially, as they already manufacture a product (with FDA approval) that is likely to serve as a model for the new OTC HAs. It is hoped that the new OTC HAs will exert downward pressure on the now-exorbitant costs of traditional HAs.

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flossy21
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by flossy21 » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:52 am

OP -- You should think of hearing aids as a service...not a product. The skill, or lack thereof, of the person who fits your aids and provides your follow up adjustments is the most important factor by a wide margin. It's a hearing instrument that is specifically tuned to your hearing loss and it needs to operate well in all the environments you will encounter; noisy, quiet, speech, music, etc.

You can get the best hearing aids that money can buy and have them fit by a lousy provider and those aids won't serve you near as well as a cheap set of aids that are fit by a skilled provider.

As with any profession some Audiologists are great and some are not. Just like some non-Audiologists.

The question you need to answer is how do I find the most skilled provider whether they be at Costco or in private practice because comparing the aid just based on price is not the best solution.

Rupert
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Rupert » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:59 am

flossy21 wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:52 am
OP -- You should think of hearing aids as a service...not a product. The skill, or lack thereof, of the person who fits your aids and provides your follow up adjustments is the most important factor by a wide margin. It's a hearing instrument that is specifically tuned to your hearing loss and it needs to operate well in all the environments you will encounter; noisy, quiet, speech, music, etc.

You can get the best hearing aids that money can buy and have them fit by a lousy provider and those aids won't serve you near as well as a cheap set of aids that are fit by a skilled provider.

As with any profession some Audiologists are great and some are not. Just like some non-Audiologists.

The question you need to answer is how do I find the most skilled provider whether they be at Costco or in private practice because comparing the aid just based on price is not the best solution.
This is an important point. Part of the reason HAs are so expensive is because you are not buying just the aids. You are also buying a bundle of audiology services with the aids. It's the same business model that orthodontists use. Personally, I believe this is a business model ripe for disruption and hope the new OTC HAs have that effect. I prefer to choose the services I want and pay for them on an as-needed basis, as opposed to having someone else choose them for me and make me pay for them whether I use them or not.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:04 pm

flossy21 wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:52 am
OP -- You should think of hearing aids as a service...not a product. The skill, or lack thereof, of the person who fits your aids and provides your follow up adjustments is the most important factor by a wide margin. It's a hearing instrument that is specifically tuned to your hearing loss and it needs to operate well in all the environments you will encounter; noisy, quiet, speech, music, etc.

You can get the best hearing aids that money can buy and have them fit by a lousy provider and those aids won't serve you near as well as a cheap set of aids that are fit by a skilled provider.

As with any profession some Audiologists are great and some are not. Just like some non-Audiologists.

The question you need to answer is how do I find the most skilled provider whether they be at Costco or in private practice because comparing the aid just based on price is not the best solution.
This implies, or at least I read it that way, that the most skilled provider would not be at Costco.

I look at it differently. After a doctor, an ENT, has verified that you may benefit from hearing aids, the best solution is one that combines service with product. With Costco's return policy on hearing aids, and prices, it cannot be beat.

I can tell you that my MIL got a very expensive hearing aid from a private practice, then muttered about them until well past their very-short return period. More than once. Multiple sets. Went to multiple locations to have it adjusted, each time providing very poor feedback. We directly contacted one provider and got him to agree that she 1) Provided poor feedback, 2) was shopping providers until she found one that told her what she wanted to hear, which was NOT what was fact, and 3) did not wear the hearing aid in a way that benefited her. So he refused to adjust them for her.

Hearing aids train the brain. Just like wearing glasses. If you wear it all the time, your brain gets trained and it works as well as possible. If you wear it just for going to say a small group meeting, and don't wear it the rest of the day, it won't work well at all.

In addition, you benefit by telling people to speak towards you, so that you can see their lips moving, and to sit directly across from someone so they can do that. My MIL refused to tell anyone (deaf in one ear, 60% at best in the other), and then couldn't hear anything. She solved that by never going out, after spending close to $10,000 over the years on hearing aids.
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chazas
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by chazas » Tue Jan 22, 2019 12:33 pm

Costco is a good option.

Another option is to use a referral service like hearingrevolution.com. That's what I did, because I wanted a hearing aid (Oticon OPN1) where Costco doesn't carry an equivalent. You call, they refer you to a local audiologist, then you get significantly discounted pricing. A pair of OPN1s was $3700 vs. a $6500 quote from the first audiologist I consulted. Not as price efficient as Costco, but still a "good" deal.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:26 pm

flossy21 wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:52 am
OP -- You should think of hearing aids as a service...not a product. The skill, or lack thereof, of the person who fits your aids and provides your follow up adjustments is the most important factor by a wide margin. It's a hearing instrument that is specifically tuned to your hearing loss and it needs to operate well in all the environments you will encounter; noisy, quiet, speech, music, etc.

You can get the best hearing aids that money can buy and have them fit by a lousy provider and those aids won't serve you near as well as a cheap set of aids that are fit by a skilled provider.

As with any profession some Audiologists are great and some are not. Just like some non-Audiologists.

The question you need to answer is how do I find the most skilled provider whether they be at Costco or in private practice because comparing the aid just based on price is not the best solution.
I think this is an excellent post. And IMO it is particularly applicable for a person's first set of HAs. After going through the entire experience once, most consumers should be able to tell whether their future shopping should be prioritized by cost or service.

Nowizard
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Nowizard » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:15 am

Yes, the technology does overwhelm many, but a competent person selling them will sort that out. For example, mine overtly stated that one of Costco's choices was based on those who used technology heavily. It had 20 different programs a person could tweak, for example, to set up the HA for specific places such as a church where they typically sat in the same place. However, there is another choice that is fully "automatic," adjusting to the environment with no/minimal choices for adjustment by the wearer. For those who want the choice of adjustment in certain settings, the Kirkland 8.0 has a number of different programs for different settings such as restaurants, while driving, etc., but there is also an automatic setting if a person does not want to make changes or determines that the automatic setting is generally satisfactory. The technician will ask questions and suggest that certain programs be set up with the HA based on your responses. For example, mine has activated only automatic, cinema, restaurant and driving. You simply install the related app, open it and select the program you want, try them out and determine if they are beneficial. The app also allows you to change the tenor/bass, and whether you are focusing on sound coming from all around or from a certain direction. For example, you can set it coming straight at you while watching television. You can also set it up so that you can change from one program to another by using the buttons on the aids themselves if you prefer. It also involves simply pressing a button on either aid to increase/decrease volume. One rather interesting thing that has occurred is that people are now asking me to speak louder on occasion. Since starting to wear the aids, I apparently speak in a softer voice, and I ask my wife about television volume since what is fine for me is typically a little low for her (She has no need for aids). PM if you have specific questions.

Tim

neilpilot
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by neilpilot » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:23 am

Anyone have experience with the Eargo line of hearing devices? They range from $1500-2500, and don't include personal fitting.

https://eargo.com/products-hearing-aids

westie
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by westie » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:36 pm

FYI, nursing homes won't be responsible for hearings aids, if you're considering buying some for an elderly family member.

Jg muskie
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Jg muskie » Thu Jan 24, 2019 7:23 am

I suggest not having $cost be the priority. I’m on my 3rd pair and don’t hesitate to put them on 1st thing every day.
With my first 2, price was a concern but appearance was priority (complex). Both times I shopped for “specialists” and found very nice people that guided me through the options that would work best for me, then spent several weeks “tweaking” the devices for optimum performance. As time went on, the aids spent more time on the sink than in my ears. It had been a couple of years since I last wore aids and I decided to ask my family dr. for a reference. He sent me to an audiologist and I’m a changed man!
First the audio test in the sound booth, by a professional. My hearing loss was defined (high end frequency) then the devices / brands that best fit my needs were discussed.
I went with the Widex brand, behind the ear. Because of the extensive audio test, the aids were dialed in to my exact needs saving me many weeks of frustrating efforts. I no longer have a complex because these devices are a joy to wear. Bluetooth and phone app are awesome. Phone calls are clear, streaming music (which I originally mused at) is great (sounds i’v Never heard). The phone app allows me to adjust to various environments without anyone knowing. I also have the rechargeable batteries that recharge every night. No more issues with a dead battery at the wrong time.
This is actually my first post on boglehead, I hope my experience helps someone improve their life sooner rather that later!

chazas
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by chazas » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:36 am

Also there’s a good hearing aid forum. Go there. https://forum.hearingtracker.com/

spectec
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by spectec » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:37 am

Another vote here for Costco for the devices and hearing tracker.com for lots of useful info. My first pair of top-of-the-line HA's about 8 years ago cost me well over $6,000 when purchased through the audi at my doctor's office. Last year they needed replacement, and by this time I had heard of Costco. Total Costco price was under $ 2,000 for a set that made the previous HA's look like horse and buggy technology. The examination and fitting were better at Costco, and I had 6 months to be sure they were the best for me. Warranty is exceptional at Costco. Like the OP, my problem is high-frequency hearing loss.
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

mortfree
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by mortfree » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:07 pm

Regarding the free batteries from audiologists.

Costco has batteries.

48 for $9

That’s 24 weeks assuming two HAs and one week battery life.

So basically $20 per year.

Is it worth the premium the Audi charges to get the free batteries?

And Costco gives free domes and earlocks as needed.

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barber
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by barber » Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:48 am

UPDATE After consulting a major retailer and a private audiologist and never having any hearing aids I have opted for the audiologist. The explanation and added testing of my hearing loss made my decision easier. I do believe that had I been using hearing aids I may have tried Costco. I also would need to drive about a half hour to reach nearest warehouse. Pricing was higher , as expected, but my insurance coverage will be over 50%. I have a 75 day trial and as many visits as I feel needed to make adjustments. I'm thinking that my expectations might be misguided and I will end up at Costco. Thanks for all the advice and ideas.

spectec
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by spectec » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:43 pm

Nothing wrong with that decision - you need to do what's in your best interest all around. Whatever you do, be sure to visit hearingtracker.com. You'll find a wealth of information and excellent advice on that site, both before and during your search for the best solution to your problem. If you post your audiogram, the quality of the advice is outstanding.
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

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heartwood
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by heartwood » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:28 am

OLD THREAD

There are several hearing aid threads here. I picked the latest, from January 2019.

There was a segment on CBS News Sunday Morning today (8/11/19) on hearing aids. Only 20% of people who would benefit from hearing aids actually buy them.

It mentioned the changes in federal law that will allow OTC hearing aids sometime in 2020 which might allow Sony, Apple, Bose, and others to enter the market currently globally controlled by 6 companies selling in the $5k per pair range, except at Costco.

The segment also highlighted a few products in the less than $500 range available now, including Bose Hearphones ($500 at Best Buy and at Amazon).

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/reviews/bo ... ck/5886100

https://www.amazon.com/Bose-Hearphones- ... B06XYPJN4G

I've been waiting for Moore's Law to catch up in hearing aids for years. We have smartphones that can do so many things. The price for conventional hearing aides might be attributable to the need for doctors, audiologists, etc, and the 6 company monopoly.

They're not hearing aids but are intriguing. Probably not worn 24/7. Not custom fitted as actual hearing aids are. Generally get high review ratings except for inability to replace batteries after 500 recharges (2 years?). Anyone here have experiences with them?

Arlington2019
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Arlington2019 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:41 am

Noting this is an old thread, but count me in as another satisfied Costco customer. I was born 60 years ago with a significant bilateral hearing loss. I have never had insurance coverage for aids and was used to spending several thousand dollars out of pocket every 3-5 years. I started going to Costco about ten years ago and much prefer spending a bit under $3000 for better quality aids. Costco is the second largest hearing aid dispenser in the US, behind the Veterans Administration. I will be interested to see what OTC aids do to the price and features of prescription aids.

cbeck
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by cbeck » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:35 pm

The economics of hearing aids are particularly interesting. Unlike virtually every other consumer electronic device the price of HAs has been going up steadily for years, as much as 8%/year. How is this possible? HAs are unique, but not in technology. They use digital signal processors which are widely used in headphone, cell phones, and other devices whose costs have been going down. What is unique about HAs is the distribution channel. Users buy them from a white-coated audiologist with an MS or PhD in audiology. The audiologist is a commission salesperson who makes her money from the markup of the HAs, not from performing audiograms. Users are uniquely unable to make the purchasing decision on their own because they don't know how to evaluate HAs and it takes a month or more to get used to wearing them. So, a newbie trying out various models in the audiologist's office is not likely to make a better decision.

Consumer Reports did a study of HA users and found that although 40% of the devices were actually not correctly fitted, nevertheless 75% of users liked their HAs. Furthermore, there is a well-known audiology study that found that 95% of users do not benefit from having more than 4 channels. The result is that the consumer is more likely than in most buying situations to be steered toward a product by the salesperson/audiologist. No matter how much the consumer is overcharged he or she is very likely to be satisfied with the product. So there is a perfect storm for price gouging.

The companies that produce HAs are competing for the business of audiologist, not the consumer. Therefore they have an incentive to produce more expensive products which offer a higher profit to the audiologist than cheaper ones. One of the ways that they justify increasing the cost is by adding ever more channels even though these do not enhance the performance of the product for most users.

The future of HAs is in bluetooth devices controlled by smartphones. The user takes his own audiogram using the phone as often as he likes. Then he applies the result of the latest audiogram directly to the HAs he is wearing. After all, the adjustment to the HAs is the same as using an equalizer, i.e. boosting the signal in each band to compensate for the loss. I expect these products to come from China. Bose has a self-adjustable hearing aid in the works, but it looks like a pretty clunky first-generation device.

squirm
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by squirm » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:42 pm

I have moderate hearing loss too. I've been wondering who has trial periods too. I like to try them out and see if it helps or makes my annoying tinnitus worse.

jerryk68
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by jerryk68 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:13 am

cbeck wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:35 pm
The economics of hearing aids are particularly interesting. Unlike virtually every other consumer electronic device the price of HAs has been going up steadily for years, as much as 8%/year. How is this possible? HAs are unique, but not in technology. They use digital signal processors which are widely used in headphone, cell phones, and other devices whose costs have been going down. What is unique about HAs is the distribution channel. Users buy them from a white-coated audiologist with an MS or PhD in audiology. The audiologist is a commission salesperson who makes her money from the markup of the HAs, not from performing audiograms. Users are uniquely unable to make the purchasing decision on their own because they don't know how to evaluate HAs and it takes a month or more to get used to wearing them. So, a newbie trying out various models in the audiologist's office is not likely to make a better decision.

Consumer Reports did a study of HA users and found that although 40% of the devices were actually not correctly fitted, nevertheless 75% of users liked their HAs. Furthermore, there is a well-known audiology study that found that 95% of users do not benefit from having more than 4 channels. The result is that the consumer is more likely than in most buying situations to be steered toward a product by the salesperson/audiologist. No matter how much the consumer is overcharged he or she is very likely to be satisfied with the product. So there is a perfect storm for price gouging.

The companies that produce HAs are competing for the business of audiologist, not the consumer. Therefore they have an incentive to produce more expensive products which offer a higher profit to the audiologist than cheaper ones. One of the ways that they justify increasing the cost is by adding ever more channels even though these do not enhance the performance of the product for most users.

The future of HAs is in bluetooth devices controlled by smartphones. The user takes his own audiogram using the phone as often as he likes. Then he applies the result of the latest audiogram directly to the HAs he is wearing. After all, the adjustment to the HAs is the same as using an equalizer, i.e. boosting the signal in each band to compensate for the loss. I expect these products to come from China. Bose has a self-adjustable hearing aid in the works, but it looks like a pretty clunky first-generation device.
+1000
I have a 76 year old friend that paid in excess of $7k for her hearing aids but at least she has a life time guarantee.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by Rob5TCP » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:17 pm

A review of Costco from an admittedly biased source (an audiologist)
Yet - he still raises some valid points:
I am right on the edge now -- just moderate but considering buying in the
not too distant future

https://hearinghealthmatters.org/theaud ... -bad-ugly/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... GoOYSR1L7U

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CABob
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by CABob » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:08 pm

Rob5TCP wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:17 pm
A review of Costco from an admittedly biased source (an audiologist)
Yet - he still raises some valid points:
I am right on the edge now -- just moderate but considering buying in the
not too distant future

https://hearinghealthmatters.org/theaud ... -bad-ugly/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... GoOYSR1L7U
Very interesting, thanks for posting. I got HA from Costco a couple of years ago and returned them after almost 6 months because I just could not see they were helping me that much. I went to Costco because of price but had also received a number of recommendations from friends. I later had testing done by another HA dispenser and am considering going with him at probably twice the cost. His "opinion" was that Costco had the major brands of HA but not necessarily the top of the line within the brand.
After reviewing the video I am as confused as ever.
Bob

spectec
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by spectec » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:51 pm

My first pair of $6K+ Phonak hearing aids purchased from an audiologist worked very well for about 6 years or so. They gave excellent performance and were loaded with features. When it came time to replace them, I bought a pair from Costco for just under $2K. The Costco HA's are light years ahead of the old Phonaks of course, because of advances in technology. But the latest Phonaks which are comparable to the Costco HA's still cost about $6K or more, with no appreciable difference in qualify, features, or benefits. Plus the Costco HA's have a 2-year warranty and I had an initial trial period of 6 months.

To this experienced user, buying from Costco vs an audiologist is a slam dunk decision. One question to ask an audiologist is whether they do a Real Ear Measurement when fitting the HA's. I've read that only about 30% of them do, whereas Costco does it as a routine part of the fitting. And anyone who claims the REM is unnecessary is just making excuses.
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

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heartwood
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by heartwood » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:17 am

I see that I should have started a new thread on Personal Hearing Devices (PHD) rather than tagging onto an old Hearing Aid thread. From the lack of responses to my specific question (Anyone here have experiences with them?) I guess no one's tried the Bose Hearphones? Or similar PHDs?

I'll start a new thread. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=288055&newpost=469 ... ead#unread

montanagirl
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by montanagirl » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:42 am

Has anyone tried Eargo as a hearing aid?

My husband bought Costco aids, touted them to me and then stopped wearing them after a month.

I would like something in-ear because behind-the-ear gets hung up with my hair and glasses

MarkerFM
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Re: Hearing Aids

Post by MarkerFM » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:55 pm

montanagirl wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:42 am
Has anyone tried Eargo as a hearing aid?

My husband bought Costco aids, touted them to me and then stopped wearing them after a month.

I would like something in-ear because behind-the-ear gets hung up with my hair and glasses
You might end up not using them. The type of hearing aid should be chosen based on your hearing loss, not other factors. I had in-ear from Costco and they didn't ever work for me. Turns out, I need the over the ear type for my hearing loss.

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