Times: Push for Less Expensive Hearing Aids

Good New York Times article on need for lower cost hearing aids. Below is my published comment. Click on the link to add yours. Hearing aid companies need to hear our voices.

New York Times: A Push for Less Expensive Hearing Aids.

As a person with severe adult-onset hearing loss (and the author of two books about living with hearing loss, as well as being AARP’s hearing loss blogger), I write and think about these issues all the time. The comments here are spot on — hearing aids are too expensive, the process of testing and fitting is too complicated, finding an audiologist is difficult, they often don’t work perfectly, especially for severe loss. They also often need to be supplemented by other assistive-listening devices, which may cost another $1000. But I’m surprised that no one (or no one I saw) mentioned PSAP’s — personal sound amplification products. Top cost $500. Excellent for age related mild to moderate hearing loss. The sophisticated ones do everything a hearing aid does at a fraction of the cost. Audiologists won’t sell you one because they can’t make enough of a profit on them. But you can read about them in the New York Times (google Soundhawk, or Etymotic Bean) and how to buy them. You can also read about them on the website of the Hearing Loss Association of America. hearingloss.org. They may be a stepping stone to a hearing aid. Or they may be all you’ll ever need. Katherine Bouton — “Shouting Won’t Help” and “Living Better With Hearing Loss: A Guide to Health, Happiness, Love, Sex, Work, Friends … and Hearing Aids.”

Add your comment by clicking on the link in the post below.

10 thoughts on “Times: Push for Less Expensive Hearing Aids

  1. I’ve had a progressive and now profound bi lateral sensori neural hearing loss for 50 years.
    I’ve worked with the same audiologist at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New
    York City for 30+ plus years and have been very satisfied. My audiologist has worked hard to
    accommodate the unusual pattern of my hearing loss. It took three years of experimentation
    before we found the Oticon Chili aids I wear now. I started using an FM assistive listening device when I was a convention and meeting planner in the 1980s and have never been without one because they make hearing in noisy places much easier for me. Living with a hearing loss is socially stressful and physically tiring because the brain works very hard to understand what it is hearing. Your brain needs to be able to hear to give you the maximum amount of accurate feedback. If it doesn’t get amplification, it will start to lose the signals it needs to function properly. Everyone with a hearing loss should have their ears checked by an ENT to make sure there are no physical problems, have ear wax removed, which can impair hearing, and have a baseline audiogram. Using PSAPs can be a good introduction to hearing amplification for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. If they don’t work, don’t give up! Consult a qualified audiologist and work with them until you are satisfied. As noted in the New York Times article, there are different price points from different suppliers, which should be researched before purchasing PSAPs or hearing aids.


  2. Personal Assistive Listening devices are reasonable compared to hearing aids and help a person identify their hearing loss and able hear one on one in a restaurant or family gathering. I have a problem with those very expensive tiny in-the-canal hearing aids with their small batteries that are sold to seniors with arthritic fingers and vision loss. So many of them end up in the draw because these seniors are not savvy enough to return them and receive a full refund. I do think if you need a hearing aid and have no idea where to go a university or hospital with an audiology department is a good place to start. I have been going The Ohio State University Speech and Hearing Clinic in Columbus, OH for the last 40 years. This is where there train budding audiologist and they will not rip you off. They actually want you to be satisfied with your hearing aid.


    • I didn’t know you could use watch batteries. I wonder if they come in the same sizes a hearing aid batteries. It is interesting that a watch battery lasts two weeks –longer than zinc oxide but considerably shorter than the same battery would work in a watch. It shows you how much power the hearing aid takes to keep working. Thanks for the infop.


  3. It is impossible to say if the less expensive hearing aids are as good as the expensive aids since all the manufacturers use proprietary names for the features. Even Consumer Reports can’t compare them. Anyone who tells someone that one aid is better or worse than the other is inaccurate. See my Letter to the President:


    I will be testifying before the FDA on April 21st on this issue.

    Janice S. Lintz, CEO, Hearing Access & Innovations


  4. Hearing loss is like fingerprints. No too people have the same loss, even if they have the
    exact same audiogram. The only way to find out if a hearing aid works for your particular
    loss is to try it out. If you have a mild or moderate loss, a PSAP or an assistive listening
    system may work well for you. You have to allow time,(at least a month), for your brain to adjust to the sounds it is hearing, sounds it may not have for a very long time. Those of us who live with severe and profound hearing loss 24/7/365, need to work with a qualified audiologist to get the best possible result. We also need to use assistive listening devices in certain situations. The hearing aid industry should make those devices non proprietary so we can all benefit from what works best for us.


  5. You can’t really put a price on retrieving a sense. There should be more places like Pacific Audiology (http://pacificaudiology.com/), which provides hearing aids in Salem, Oregon, and treat their clients like family. They care more about your ability to hear than earning an extra buck.


    • Thanks for writing. Sometimes going to a university medical center with an audiology department is the best bet. The Pacific Northwest has a number of good organizations. In your previous comment you said one hearing aid cost $8000! Which was that? That’s astounding.


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