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Thread: New to all of this, need just a little advice

  1. #1

    Default New to all of this, need just a little advice

    Hi Everyone. I'm venturing into the area of hearing loss for the first time and talking with my doctor and audiologist about getting hearing aids. I have a couple of questions for some objective but knowledgable bystanders (you guys):

    1. My intuition could be wrong, but I got a little bit of vibe that the audiologist might be steering me to the most expensive options. Perhaps not; she did say it was up to me to set my budget and then she'd work with that. But she is steering me to the mid-high range hearing aids as far as features go, in the price range of around $6,000/pair. Is that the right way to go, or should be be very cost conscious?

    2. On the other hand, my insurance company (united healthcare) has a program where they offer HI HealthInnovations hearing aids for under $1000/ear. Are those the cheapest possible options, as in you-get-your-money's-worth-cheap?

    3. The audiologist (from question 1) recommended to me these hearing aids: Oticon OPN or the Starkey Muse. I know you guys can't advise me on which to get because you don't know my diagnosis or financial status. I'm just wondering if you could guide me a little in a "buyer beware" kind of way... let me know if I should steer more toward the cheap or more toward the higher price, more toward one brand name versus another. Thoughts?

    I will definitely continue to do my own research, but would like to hear your thoughts as well.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    362

    Default

    You're right. I know nothing about you other than you're new to hearing aids. Assuming you don't have something exceptional going on with your hearing or want some special feature and that saving money is a good thing, I'd encourage you to check out Costco. You could get a pretty decent aid (Kirkland Signature 7.0 for under $1700 for the pair. I think they are better aids than the HI HealthInnovations. Of the two other hearing aids you mentioned, there's a lot of buzz about the Oticon OPNs. They claim they're a whole new approach to hearing aids. Whether or not it's marketing hype I don't know. The Costco aids I mentioned are similar to hearing aids that would cost notably more. Costco by the way does a nice solid job. They may not provide a "premium" experience, but they clearly have quality standards in place.
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

    15 15 20 30 30 55 75 90 NR ​KS7
    10 10 20 15 25 35 65 85 95 WRS 100/92@45/40

  3. #3

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    I have the Oticon OPN and it's around $6K/pair through an audiologist. The OPN is expensive because it's the latest technology in HA just released last summer and it gets a lot of attention lately because it's supposed to be the next giant leap in technology for HAs. You can buy it online from BuyHear.com for $3,800 a pair and they'll program it remotely for you. There are many posters on this forum that had reported success via this online purchase model, specifically for the OPN. But as a first time HA wearer, you may probably be better off getting fittings face to face from an audi if you don't know what you want. You should visit the Oticon website and read up on all OPN marketing info to learn more about it.

    Specific to the Oticon OPN, I don't think your audi is trying to push expensive HAs on you. Yes, it's expensive, but she's probably recommending it because it's probably one of the best and most advanced HAs out there, so it's worth recommending. But if you can't afford it, there are plenty of other cheaper brands and models out there.

    If you want to try out the Oticon OPN but don't want to pay $6K/pair for it, you may want to shop around, or try to bargain down with your audi. Here's an add from audiologywny.com where a local audi in New York where they're advertising $4400 for a pair. They're a little more expensive than BuyHear.com because it looks like they're a local dispenser in NY, unlike BuyHear.com who's an online dispenser. But if your audi is willing to give you a discount, I think around $4K/pair for local fitting (not online) would be a good deal.

    How much will your insurance company pay for your HAs? Is there a coverage percentage of the cost and a copay?

    The advice to go to Costco for HAs is a good one. I used to go that route for years when my old insurance didn't pay for HAs. I only went through an audi the last time because I have new insurance that will cover 95% of the HA cost after deductible and I happened to have met my deductible that year.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 01-03-2017 at 06:50 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  4. #4

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    I started with HA's this past July and I went to a local audi who wanted to sell me $5000 HA. I have no insurance so I looked around and found Costco. I have the Signature 6 which was just switching to Signature 7 about the time I was fitted. You get an unheard of 180 day trial money back guarantee at Costco. Most audi are 30-60 days at best. I probably went back 4 times during my trial period for adjustments at no cost and they spent considerable time to insure I was satisfied.

    Costco gives you a two year warranty and I think one year loss protection, something you just won't get with a local audi.

    I am very satisfied with my Costco HA and think the staff at Costco was actually as good or better than the "Dr" at the local audi.

    Just my opinion.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Volusiano View Post
    How much will your insurance company pay for your HAs? Is there a coverage percentage of the cost and a copay?
    My insurance won't pay anything for HA's unless I use their recommended HealthInnovations program/HAs. I'm fortunate enough that I can afford pretty much anything but I don't want to spend foolishly. From what you guys are describing, it sounds like buying HAs are much like buying prescription glasses or contact lenses... although more spendy.

    My hearing loss isn't significant, just hard time hearing people who like to mumble (which is a fair number of coworkers), and it's worse in one ear more than the other with most of the degradation in the mid-ranges where voices are. In terms of perception I would say that I'm on the edge of needing HAs or not needing HAs. So I don't want to go all out with the top of the line, but I don't want to waste money on cheap junk either.

    Continuing my research...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
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    You sound like you are about in the same place I was a couple of months ago. Costco's 6 month return period has a lot to be said for it.
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

    15 15 20 30 30 55 75 90 NR ​KS7
    10 10 20 15 25 35 65 85 95 WRS 100/92@45/40

  7. #7

    Default

    I actually went to three different audiologists and had 3 pairs of HA while testing. Because I seldom keep things hidden for very long, I told the audiologists what I was doing. To a man they agreed that shopping around was the way to go. No irritation, no hard feelings, just plain the way to go about getting new aids. (Of course in all three places the audiologist weren't the store's owners. )

  8. #8

    Default

    Your audiologist can probably offer you hearing aids at less than $1000/ear of comparable (or better) function, but with better services than those offered by HealthInnovations. Costco is also a good option there.

    How much to spend on your hearing aids depends on who you are. If you always like to have the most advanced thing and $6k won't break your bank, then you probably won't be satisfied without the top-of-the-line hearing aids and you'll always be wondering what you missed out on. If you always like to be as frugal as possible and tend to be comfortable putting up with minor irritants, you may be completly satisfied with the budget hearing aids. Today's lower cost hearing aids (e.g. a manufacturer's base model) are still better than hearing aids from 12 years ago, and lots of people were wearing hearing aids 12 years ago and were fine. Keep in mind that if you have significant hearing loss, then almost any hearing aid will benefit you in quiet. No hearing aid will return your ears to normal, particularly in noisier situations and particularly with more severe hearing loss. The bigggest difference between the different levels is going to be how well they do in a noisy situation and how comfortable they sound. That being said, not all users can even tell the difference between the top tech level and the next one down. Benefits tend to be more and more incremental as you go up in tech. Plus, two of the exact same hearing aids fit by two different providers can have different results. And hearing aids alone do not replace good communication skills and good self advocacy.

    Finding the right hearing aid may be quick or it may be a journey. I'd suggest finding an audiologist that you are comfortable with, maybe one who has good local word-of-mouth recommendations, and just jump in at a price level that feels comfortable to you, and go from there.

    If you are interested in the Opn, the Opn 2 and 3 just came out and will be cheaper. I don't know yet what you lose moving from an Opn 1 to an Opn 2, etc.

  9. #9

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    My audiologist, with my new (as of today) Widex Beyond RIC gave me a 3yr warranty, including 3 yr loss warranty, although the loss is only good once. They also gave me 90 days to trial, and I have taken full advantage, this is my 3rd iteration of a Widex Unique product in this time frame. I'll probably keep this one.


    Quote Originally Posted by milkman View Post
    I started with HA's this past July and I went to a local audi who wanted to sell me $5000 HA. I have no insurance so I looked around and found Costco. I have the Signature 6 which was just switching to Signature 7 about the time I was fitted. You get an unheard of 180 day trial money back guarantee at Costco. Most audi are 30-60 days at best. I probably went back 4 times during my trial period for adjustments at no cost and they spent considerable time to insure I was satisfied.

    Costco gives you a two year warranty and I think one year loss protection, something you just won't get with a local audi.

    I am very satisfied with my Costco HA and think the staff at Costco was actually as good or better than the "Dr" at the local audi.

    Just my opinion.
    ..250..500..1000..2000..4000..8000
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    R: no hearing

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    362

    Default

    Costco's warranty is 3 years and 2 years loss protection, at least in the US. Their credit card lets you extend each by 2 years.
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

    15 15 20 30 30 55 75 90 NR ​KS7
    10 10 20 15 25 35 65 85 95 WRS 100/92@45/40

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