Find a hearing care professional
There are both audiologists and hearing instrument specialists (HIS) who can sell you a hearing aid. You will want to look for one who is knowledgeable, educated and has a good reputation in the community. Audiologists are doctorate level professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of hearing losses as well as other medical issues. HIS are licensed to provide testing for the sole purpose of purchasing a hearing aid and typically do not have any advanced schooling or training.
Take a test
There are some online hearing tests that can be done in the comfort of your home as a screening tool. However, in order to be fit with a hearing aid, all states require a complete hearing evaluation performed by a hearing care professional. These tests are good for 6 months and some insurances cover the cost of the testing. Medicare will cover the cost of the testing as long as your primary care physician has referred you to the facility and the testing is performed by an audiologist.
Hearing aids come in many prices and technology levels. There are two main ways to buy hearing aids. The first is considered a bundled pricing model. This is the most common option. The purchase price includes the cost of the hearing aids as well as service on the hearing aids for 3-5 years. The second option is to purchase the hearing aids and then pay as you go or buy a short-term service package of 1-3 years.
Fitting of the hearing aids
During the fitting of the hearing aids, the hearing care professional will program your prescription into your hearing aids. The prescription is verified by using “Real Ear Measurements (REM).” Consumer Reports issued an article stating that 70% of hearing aid fittings were inaccurate. Many clinics do not use REMs so find one that uses this technology routinely.
It typically takes our brain 45 days to adjust to new hearing aids. It is important to be patient and go back to your hearing care professional for adjustments and follow ups. These should be included in part of your service package.
Return and Exchange Policy
It’s important to know the return policy on your hearing aids and to GET IT IN WRITING. Many states do not require a return policy, however, it is typical to see a 30 day return window with a reasonable restocking fee. Most clinics also allow exchanges during the return window and most do not charge for exchanges. Again, it is important to understand what the charges are and get it in writing to avoid any miscommunication.
All hearing aids come with a manufacturer warranty. They cover repairs during that time period as well as losing the aid one time during that timeframe. It’s important to remember that the manufacturer warranty is separate from the service package that you have with the hearing care professional. They most likely will charge you a handling fee to send your hearing aids in for repairs if you do not have a service package set up.