How Hearing Aids Work
Hearing aids use small microphones to collect sounds. A computer chip then converts the incoming sound, analyzes it and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss. Then you hear the audio signals through miniature speakers in your ears.
Which hearing aid is right for you? It depends on the severity of your hearing loss, the environments where you want to hear better, how active you want to be and which technology you are comfortable with.
At the time of your hearing evaluation, we will take a case history to determine the type of hearing problem that you have. We’ll ask you questions about the onset of your hearing loss, and whether you are experiencing tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and/or dizziness.
Based on the results of the hearing test and the answers to these questions, our highly trained hearing experts may make a referral to a medical doctor for an examination and possible treatment. If the testing reveals a sensori-neural hearing loss, we may recommend hearing aids.
There are literally thousands of hearing aids from which to choose. Our highly trained staff will use the information that in your case history and in the audiological evaluation to help narrow those choices for you. You will make the final decision on which hearing aid to purchase. The two main types of hearing aids available today are conventional analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids.
Hearing Aid Fitting
During the hearing aid fitting, we program the device to meet your specific needs. We’ll give you instructions on how to put the hearing aids in your ears and remove them, how to change batteries and how to care for and clean the devices. We’ll also review with you the function of your hearing aids as it relates to your lifestyle, and how to get the most benefit from wearing your hearing aids. You can read more about hearing aid fitting here.
Digital Hearing Aids: 21st Century Solutions
If you plan to only use your hearing aids at home, the more basic units may suffice. On the other hand, if you want to enhance your hearing at home, in the car, at the supermarket, at restaurants, and at the concerts and football games you attend — in other words, across a wide variety of listening environments, then you’ll want a more full-featured advanced digital hearing aid.
Of course the more you use your hearing aids, the more they will help you, the more you’ll be engaged with your friends and family and the more you’ll get out of life.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY FOR HEARING AIDS?
How much you should spend to enhance your hearing with hearing aids or assistive listening devices depends on many factors. If you live alone in the woods, rarely talk on the phone, never listen to the radio or watch TV, and rarely venture out, then your hearing aid use will probably be low and it doesn’t make sense to opt for “top shelf” hearing aids.
On the other hand, even if you live by yourself, if you spend time in meetings at work, or like to watch TV, talk on the phone or listen to the news on the radio; if you enjoy socializing with friends and family, your use is going to be high. In fact, you’ll probably wear your hearing aids for 12 to 16 hours a day. You’ll want hearing aids that consistently perform well.
Given your high use, paying for high quality hearing aids is a good investment in your quality of life, in your ability to stay connected and to communicate well.
The Price and Value of Hearing Aids
Cost and value are two different things. Take out a piece of paper and make a list of how many times each day and each week you could benefit from using hearing aids. What are situations where hearing more clearly would help you enjoy life more? Look at your list and calculate what it would be worth to you, per day, to be an active part of the conversation. That’s the value to you of wearing hearing aids.
What Determines the Cost of Hearing Aids?
Cost is determined by features and function. The more features you want and the higher level of performance you’d like, the more you’ll pay. Almost-invisible hearing aids that work well across a broad spectrum of listening environments and are designed for someone with an active lifestyle are likely to be more costly (and work better) than cheap imitations.
Like any other technology, your hearing aid price depends on which features you choose and, more importantly, what your hearing healthcare professional recommends for you. The more features you receive, the more the hearing aids will cost.
For example, if you live a very active lifestyle, we may recommend dual microphones to help you hear better in noisy environments. Our patients are typically very satisfied with this feature.
All hearing aids come with an adjustment or trial period, typically 30 days from date of purchase. During this adjustment period, you’re welcome to visit us for any necessary fitting issues. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the hearing aids you buy, you can return them for a refund minus a small fitting/restocking fee.
Does Insurance Cover Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are generally not covered by health insurance companies, with some exceptions. For eligible children and young adults ages 21 and under, Medicaid will pay for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids, under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) service. Also, children may be covered by their state’s early intervention program or State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Medicare does not cover hearing aids for adults; however, diagnostic evaluations are covered if they are ordered by a physician to assist in developing a treatment plan. Since Medicare has declared the bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) a prosthetic device and not a hearing aid, Medicare will cover the BAHA if other coverage policies are met.
Some nonprofit organizations provide financial assistance for hearing aids, while others may help provide used or refurbished aids.
We’ll help you make the right choice for your hearing needs, lifestyle and budget. Call us today at 325-695-1133
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU BUY
Before you buy a hearing aid, ask us these important questions:
- What features would be most useful to me?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
- Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
- Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? (Most manufacturers allow a 30-to 60-day trial period during which aids can be returned for a refund.)
- What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
- How long is the warranty?
- Can it be extended?
- Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
- What service do they provide after the sale? Can the hearing aid specialist make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs?
- Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
- What instruction does the hearing aid specialist provide?