Author’s note: This post was created a fair few years ago, so some of this data is out of date, but still holds true today.
I am starting to consider the idea of requesting donations for obtaining a hearing aid that allows me to actually communicate with a phone wirelessly, and be able to actually hear people.
As of 2017, I am now a Cochlear Implant user, with a Nucleus 7 implant and sound processor. — Edit in 2022
You know, most hearing aids today have a special mode that supposedly works with phones today. This is true for the most part, but in my personal experience, I’ve always found it unreliable and incredibly inconvenient, to the point where I actually take the hearing aid off to hear on the phone!
Why? Because each time I used the hearing aid in combination with a phone with the HA in its special mode for dealing with phones, I either 1. get horrible feedback, 2. I don’t understand the person enough to make the HA even halfway useful.
More often than not, issue 1 is what I experience. So much feedback that I often choose to take it off. Unfortunately, doing that makes it difficult to hear the person, even when maxing the audio out on the phone and damn near attempting to shove the phone straight into my ear.
My research has narrowed down the many companies available to order hearing aids from to one company that fits the requirements that I have, which is Starkey with their 3 Series line of hearing aids. Another factor of this decision is the fact that the nearest audiology center works with Starkey.
Edit on Friday, April 4th, 2014: I have discovered a company that sells hearing aids at a far lower cost than Starkey and other incumbent hearing aid manufacturers. Thusly I have updated this post and the numbers accordingly to account for this discovery.
Since I only need one hearing aid for my left ear, the base cost is $599, still a hefty amount of money for someone who lives on SSI. I chose to add the Bluetooth controller, at $299 which brings it to a grand total of $900.
The hearing aid does not come with an ear-mold. This means I also need to spend an approximate $105 to get myself a custom-made ear-mold that fits the hearing aid at the local audiology office.
So, how much does a hearing aid cost? Anywhere from $1k to $3k. Most medical companies are required to cover $1,400, and that’s for children under 21. You’re an adult? Good luck getting a hearing aid.
Weirdly, the only exception to this rule is California. California covers any and all adults for hearing aids. This tends to be usually the basic models, though. The problem is two-fold for me. First and foremost is that I’d need to move back to California to get that coverage. Then secondly, I’d have to wait at least a month to be covered fully under California’s medical coverage.
Unfortunately, housing in California is not exactly cheap, so there’s problem three. And then there’s problem 4, pricing.
But what about CareCredit? Not an option, I already tried and I was denied. So that option’s out.
The rough figures for the hearing aid and accessories I would need? Probably $4,397. That’s assuming the provider local to my area tells me that I would need to pay that much for what I want to get. And let’s not forget taxes.
$1,199-$2,999* with payment plans optional. CareCredit required for payment plans. This seems to be a standard range of pricing for the BTE models. $1,697 for all the accessories, which are SurfLink Media, SurfLink Mobile, SurfLink Remote.
Actual prices for accessories:
$399 – $499 SurfLink Media
$799 – $899 SurfLink Mobile
$229 – $299 SurfLink Remote
I don’t need the Remote, really. But it’s a nice-to-have. The major accessories I would need is SurfLink Media and SurfLink Mobile, in addition to the hearing aid.
If you’re looking for Part Two where I go deeper in detail as to why hearing aids are expensive, there you go.