I think it’s essential to understand that hearing aids provide the patient with a better quality of life. It’s therefore relevant to wonder why pricing is so important. I have patients who wear their hearing aids for some 12 to 15 hours a day, every day. Even if certain patients only suffer from mild or moderate hearing loss, they’re more at ease during a conversation and they feel safer. Indeed, after experiencing all the benefits of a good fitting, patients often hesitate less when it comes to investing in their hearing health.
Additionally, hearing health professionals have essential training and expertise in using hearing instruments properly. We’re trained to protect the hearing health of our patients. On the recommendation of a doctor, an ENT specialist or an audiologist, we can adjust hearing aids to suit the patient’s hearing loss. That’s why it’s preferable to purchase hearing aids from hearing health professionals.
Here is a summary of what a hearing aid acoustician does during a new patient’s fitting: case history, otoscopy, evaluation of hearing aid needs, interpretation of the results for the fitting, selection of the hearing aid, ear imprints, programming of the aid and follow-ups. During the follow-up period, it can take many appointments to properly adjust the hearing aid and explain how it works, among other things.
I often say that our work starts as soon as the patient gets home with his or her new hearing aids. Several follow-ups will be necessary to ensure the patient is pleased for the whole service life of his or her hearing aids.
A warning needs to be made at this time. I must recommend buyers not to purchase hearing aids on the Internet, through online catalogs. It isn’t safe to take chances with your hearing health. I so often meet patients after they’ve purchased unsuitable products in the United States or elsewhere. Unfortunately, in most cases, there’s little I can do. By trying to save money in one place, you lose it in another…
A hearing aid’s high-end technology is another factor that influences its price. For several years now, manufacturers have been putting a lot of effort into research and development of this technology. Patients that used analog devices in the past often complained of their poor quality. We knew there was little we could do to improve those hearing aids. However, for the past ten years, hearing aids are all digital. It is therefore possible to constantly update everything that’s “inside” the hearing aid. We get less and less negative feedback from patients, because the performances are better. And these hearing aids can be connected to the TV, cell phone or iPod via Bluetooth™.
In conclusion, purchasing a hearing aid should be done wisely and with the assistance of a hearing health professional. Yes, the pricing is important, but it should not be the central concern of the patient. After all, it is an investment in your quality of life. I suggest choosing a hearing aid acoustician you trust. Do not hesitate to meet more than one hearing health professional. Ask your hearing aid acoustician about government financing programs like Veteran Affairs, CSST or RAMQ, and find out more about the coverage you get from your private insurance company.
Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think!
Annie Bouchard ap.
1Reference: Code of ethics of hearing aid acousticians, Hearing-aid Acousticians Act (R.S.Q., c. A-33, s. 3) Professional Code (R.S.Q., c. C-26, s. 87) DIVISION V: RESTRICTIONS AND OBLIGATIONS RELATING TO ADVERTISING