Hearing Aid Buyer’s Guide
Buying a hearing aids can be daunting if you’re a first time hearing aid wearer. There are 3 factors which go into selecting which is the most appropriate hearing aid for your specific needs.
Your Level Of Hearing Loss
A hearing care professional will conduct a hearing test which will help you determine the extent of your hearing loss, the type of hearing loss you’re suffering from as well as whether your hearing loss is in one ear (monaural) or both your ears (binaural). Your level of hearing loss will determine the most appropriate style of hearing aids, generally speaking:
Mild hearing loss:
- Symptoms: Ok in one on one conversation but have some difficulty in background noise.
- Hearing Threshold Level: 26 – 40 dB
- Hearing Aids: May be of assistance
Moderate hearing loss:
- Symptoms: Asking people to repeat themselves during conversations, especially bad with background noise.
- Hearing Threshold: 41 – 55 dB
- Hearing Aids: Very helpful and strongly recommended.
Severe Hearing Loss:
- Symptoms: Can’t hear conversation without hearing aids. .
- Hearing Threshold: 70 – 90 dB
- Hearing Aids: May require a super-powered hearing aid to get benefit.
Profound Hearing Loss:
- Symptoms: Will have trouble even with hearing aids.
- Hearing Threshold: 71 – 90 dB
- Hearing Aids: May require a cochlear implant.
In summary the hearing aid styles are:
- Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss – IIC or a RIC hearing aid
- Moderate to Severe Hearing Loss – RIC Hearing Aid
- Severe Hearing Loss – RIC or Super Powered BTE
- Profound Hearing loss – Super Powered BTE or Cochlear Implant
Your Lifestyle and Budget
After determine the most appropriate style of hearing aids, the next is to determine what is the most appropriate level of hearing aid technology. Generally, the more active of a lifestyle you lead the more technology you will need to deal with the background noise and get a good outcome with your hearing aids. The price of hearing aids is determined by the hearing aid technology rather than the hearing aid style. Most hearing aid manufacturers have between 3 and 5 levels of technology for each model and style.
Hearing Aid Prices
Generally hearing aid prices are determined by the technology level of the device:
- Quite Lifestyle – Essential or Standard technology levels – Prices From $1,300
- Casual Lifestyle – Advanced Technology – Prices from $2,400
- Active Lifestyle – Premium Technology – Prices from $3,500
It’s important to choose hearing aids which match your lifestyle. If you buy a technology level that does not have the features required you’ll most likely be frustrated with the hearing aids as they won’t perform well in noise. Features like Bluetooth streaming and rechargeable batteries are becoming more common and don’t significantly increase the cost of the hearing aids.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to the technology level that matches your lifestyle, hearing choices offers up to 12 months interest free finance to help spread out the costs. Hearing aids are by no mean a small investment but it’s an investment into your quality of life and getting back to the activities you enjoy.
Government Subsidised Hearing Aids
If you are an eligible pensioner or concession card holder you may be eligible for Government Subsidies for hearing aids under the OHS program, or more recently, the NDIS which is in the process of being rolled out across Australia. Under the OHS voucher scheme you are eligible for fully subsidised hearing aids, or if you want a better technology level, you can use the voucher and “Top Up” to more premium technology.
Private Health Insurance For Hearing Aids.
You can also claim hearing aids if you have an appropriate level of private health insurance. Most funds have a 3 year waiting period for hearing aid cover and offer between $8,00 – $1,500 every couple of years towards hearing aids. While private health insurance generally won’t cover the whole cost of a hearing aid, it can certainly help in bringing the price down.
Medibank Private Health Insurance
Has a waiting period of 36 months for hearing aids and allows you to claim the following for hearing aids every 5 years depending on your cover.
- Ultra Health Cover – $1,600 towards hearing aids
- Top Extras 85 – $1,200 towards hearing aids
- Top Extras 70 – $800 towards hearing aids
- Top Extras 55 – $400 towards hearing aids
Has a waiting period of 12 months for hearing aids and allows you to claim the following for hearing aids every 12 months depending on your cover.
- Platinum Extras – $1,200 towards hearing aids
- Gold Extras – $1,000 towards hearing aids
- Silver Extras – $800 towards hearing aids
The Process Of Buying Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are not an off the shelf product that you can buy online, or just walk into a hearing clinic and purchase. The process for buying a hearing aid is generally as follows:
- First you will have a comprehensive hearing test and consultation with a clinician who will take a comprehensive examination of your ears, lifestyle and conduct a hearing test.
- Depending on the results of your hearing test, your clinician will recommend and appropriate device suitable for your needs.
- After choosing a device, your clinician will order the device from the hearing aid manufacturer and program the device to your hearing loss and lifestyle needs. You’ll be invited back into the clinic around a week later to be “fitted” with the hearing aid and the clinician will explain how to use hearing aids and answer any questions you have.
- Generally you should have a trial period of around 30 days whereby you can test the hearing aids in your normal listening environments and ensure that they have been programmed correctly and are effective in helping you understand speech in noise.
- After around 2 to 3 weeks of wearing the devices, you’ll be called back in to the clinic and the clinician can fix or re-program the hearing aids based on your experience and feedback during the initial couple of weeks of wearing the hearing aids.
What should be included when buying hearing aids:
There are a number of things that should be included when you buy hearing aids.
- Make sure you understand what you are purchasing and have been given the exact model and brand of hearing aids.
- You should be given a copy of your Audiogram and test results for your records.
- You should have at least 30 days to try the hearing aids before fully committing to them, not all hearing aids are effective for everyone and a trial period is important to ensure you get the correct outcome.
- You should be provided with some batteries or care products, they are generally included by the manufacturer.
- Your clinician should explain how to use the hearing aids and be open and willing to answer any questions you have about the devices.
- All hearing aids sold in Australia come with a minimum of 3 years manufacturer warranty, you can extend the warranties by paying a fee.
- You should have at least some aftercare included with your hearing aids so you can deal with any issues or adjustments that need to be made after the initial trial period.
Choosing Hearing Aids
If you have any questions about choosing hearing aids or need a second opinion or quote, please get in touch with hearing choices on 1300 848 335 or by submitted a form on our website. We are independent of the hearing aid manufacturers and have clinics located around Australia to provide service and advice.