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Purchasing Hearing Aids Online

In my last two blog posts, “When is a hearing aid not a hearing aid?” and  “Personal Sound Amplification Products –  PSAP’s,”  I have been discussing ear-level amplification products that are sold online or over-the-counter.  The products listed below are all FDA approved hearing aids.  I have been researching these products for the purpose of learning about them and sharing this information with you; however, as I stated in my previous post, anyone who suspects they have a hearing loss should see an ENT.  There may be a serious medical condition causing the hearing loss or there may be a simple problem such as wax in the ears.  This should always be the first step in searching for a solution to hearing loss.  I also believe that whenever possible, a hearing aid should be purchased from an audiologist.

The reasons for purchasing a hearing aid from an audiologist are well-stated in this article by David Kirkwood:  “AAA kit helps audiologists make the case against direct-to-consumer hearing aid sales.”

Hearing aids are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be recommended and prescribed by licensed professionals. This standard is in place to protect the individual with hearing loss, as not all individuals are candidates for amplification.

Additionally, an improperly fit hearing aid or hearing aid sold online without a face-to-face evaluation with an audiologist can potentially cause various problems. Without a face-to-face evaluation, the consumer will not have an otoscopic evaluation (have the audiologist look into the ear canal) and medical problems such as ear drainage or ear blockages which can cause hearing loss will not be identified.

Additionally, hearing aids that are not adjusted to the individual needs of the patient have the potential for increasing the hearing loss if the devices are not set appropriately. Lastly, audiologists can tailor a comprehensive treatment plan for each individual patient so as to ensure maximum performance from any device that may be prescribed.”

Having said that, the fact is that hearing aids are very expensive.  People are looking for alternatives.  I have gathered the following information from the websites and talking to customer service representatives.  If you find any information that is inaccurate, please let me know and I will correct it.  I have highlighted some important features in these hearing aids such as t-coils, Bluetooth and analog models (some people prefer analog to digital).  Note that some of these hearing aids are programmed to your hearing loss and others are not.

1.  General Hearing Instruments, Inc. range from $344 – $399 each
1-800-824-3021 (M-F 7:00am – 6:00pm CST)
http://www.generalhearing.com/
No custom programming.
3 digital models – Simplicity (behind-the-ear), Simply Soft (in-the-ear), and Simply Slim (in-the-ear)
Hi Fidelity model is analog.
4 pre-set amplification programs
Sold online at samsclub.com, walmart.com, sears.com
No t-coils.
90-day money back guarantee; 1-year manufacturer warranty, extended warranty available.

2.  Embrace Hearing, range from $400 – $950 each
1-917–830-HEAR (4327) (M-F 9:00am – 6:00pm EST)
http://www.embracehearing.com/
Send your audiogram and they program it.
3 behind-the-ear (BTE) models:  Embrace Base, Embrace X-mini, Embrace Luna.
The Embrace Base is $399, has 2 programs and a t-coil
The X-mini is $599, has 4 programs, and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) technology, No t-coil.  Basic remote available for $99.
The Luna model is $949, has 6 programs, and has a t-coil, receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) technology and Bluetooth connectivity with Bluetooth remote $299.
45-day money back guarantee; 2 or 3-year manufacturer warranty.
One free reprogramming in the 45-day trial period if you are unhappy with the initial programming.

3.  MD Hearing, range from $120 – $350 each
1-888-670-HEAR (4327) 24 hours/7 days/week
http://www.mdhearingaid.com/
No custom programming.
3 behind-the-ear models, Air, Pro, and Max.
The Air model is $399.99, has 4 preset programs including a t-coil, and volume control.
The Pro model is $179.99, is analog, has 2 preset programs, and volume control,
The Max is $119.99, has a volume control and is a receiver-in-the-ear (RIE) model.  Designed for someone who can’t manipulate small controls..
45-day money back guarantee; 90-day manufacturer warranty; extended warranty available.

4.  Audicus, range from $499 – $649 each
1-888-979-6918 (M-F 9:00 – 6:00 EST)
http://www.audicus.com/
Send your audiogram and they program it.
6 models:  “aBlue,”  “aSamba,”  “aPearl,” aNote,” “aSwing,” and “aSoul,”
(and “aJive” which is a PSAP, not a hearing aid)
See their website for features.  Not all models are listed on home page.  Use the search box to find details of each model.  Of note is the aBlue and the ASwing.
The aBlue model is $599, behind-the-ear (BTE) style.  It has Bluetooth connectivity when used with the Bluetooth controller for $299.  The Bluetooth controller comes with a Bluetooth transmitter that may be used on the TV and other audio devices.
The “aSwing” is $499, BTE style and has a t-coil.
45-day money back guarantee; 1-year manufacturer warranty; extended warranty available.
Free programming adjustments for the lifetime of the product.

5.   hi Health Innovations range from $749 – $949 each
1-855-523-9355 (M-F 9:00am – 5:00pm CST)
https://www.hihealthinnovations.com/
Send your audiogram and they program it.
4 models – hi-ITC, hi BTE mini, hiBTE, hiBTE power
Each model has 3 programs and a volume control.
The hiBTE model has the option of a t-coil and the hiPTE power comes with a t-coil.
70-day money back guarantee;  1-year manufacturer warranty.

If you have tried any of these products or other hearing aids sold online, please leave a comment and let us know how you liked them.

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7 Responses

  1. Marilyn, Love your blog posts. Lots of great information.

  2. which did u like ?

  3. I bought two MD Hearing Aid Air hearing aids several months ago and am very happy with them. They are not programmable, but have three programs that accommodate various types of hearing loss. One is for a flat loss, and two are for high frequency losses that start at different frequencies. I like Program 3, which is for high frequency loss starting at about 2 kHz. The programs are intended to compensate for the three most common mild to moderate hearing losses. These hearing aids are NOT intended for severe or profound losses. You can send your audiogram to them, and they’ll tell you if their hearing aids will work for you. All in all, I think they’re great, and they cost about a quarter of what you’d pay an audiologist.

  4. Online hearing aids are definitely the wave of the future. I have very limited experience with them, but have had two of my patients come into the clinic with hiHealth Innovations hearing aids. I was absolutely shocked by the inappropriate programming of these hearing aids. And, unfortunately, not being a UHC provider, I was unable to adjust the hearing aids, just give the patient a printout and tell them they had to send the hearing aids back to hiHealth Innovations to have them adjusted.

    My biggest concern with online hearing aids is that the patient will send the audiogram results and the hearing aids are programmed based on those results. That can be a good starting point. However, for a patient who has never worn hearing aids in the past, they do not know what sounds are “supposed” to sound like and have no verification that what they are wearing is appropriate.

    I have encouraged my patients to purchase online hearing aids if they see an advantage. Then the patient can bring that hearing aid into my office and I will verify the fitting for them using Real Ear Measures (REM). At least with that option, the patient will have verification that the devices they are wearing on their ears are programmed appropriately. If we are able to get the software and programming cables, I can make adjustments. If not, I can still print the results and give them to the patient with suggestions on how the hearing aid gain should be adjusted.

    Unfortunately, there are many audiologists who will not deal with online hearing aids. And many audiologists who do not perform REM on a regular basis (or at the initial fit). Regardless of where you ultimately obtain your hearing aids, I would strongly suggest having REM performed on a new fit or if you have any significant changes made to your hearing aid programming (such as with adaptation to the sound over time or the results of a change in hearing). REM are part of the best practices for hearing aid fitting as defined by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

  5. The information you have provided is really very helpful for me. In my opinion, we should not buy hearing aids online. As hears are very sensitive, so we should buy them from an expert audiologist. Everyone has different requirement and only an audiologist can suggest the right hearing aids for you. Even hearing aids needs maintenance, so if you are buying them online you might face difficulty in getting the proper and timely maintenance. You may refer this source for more information on how to take care of hearing aids- http://hiddenhearing.ie/blog/how-to-take-care-of-your-hearing-aids/

  6. I absolutely love my new aNote hearing aids from Audicus! The entire experience has exceeded my expectations. This is my second pair of hearing aids. In the past 5 years I seen my audiologist 3 times – I paid 1000’s of dollars for that small bit of service! Audicus customer care has been phenomenal! If your hearing aids need “maintenance” your local audiologist will be sending them away – either way, you will go a few days without them. I have a severe reverse slope hearing loss – the most rare and most difficult to program – this has not been an issue at all. I recommend this option to everyone! Hearing should not be a luxury and there is no reason in the world they should cost the same as a small car!

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