How to Save Money on Hearing Aids
Last updated December 2020
Medicare and most private insurers don’t reimburse hearing aid costs or services provided by hearing professionals. For models sold and set up by hearing specialists, expect to pay out of pocket $750 to $3,000 or more per hearing aid. When OTC models become available, they’ll likely cost less than half that.
Taking time to compare prices offered by more than one seller will likely uncover big savings. The figure below reports the range of prices our undercover shoppers were quoted by local hearing centers for illustrative pairs of hearing aids, including any fees for exams and follow-up appointments. Prices varied dramatically from company to company.
Our Ratings Tables will help you find a local seller with good prices. It includes a price comparison score for each company, which indicates how the company’s prices for the 12 models we shopped (including hearing test, programming, and fitting) compared to the average prices for the same aids quoted by all the companies. A price comparison score of $110 means a company, on average, quoted prices 10 percent higher than the average of all the companies on the same models. Price comparison scores ranged from a low of $74 to a high of $122.
A note on prices at Costco: Because it didn’t carry the same hearing aid models as other hearing centers, we were unable to include Costco in our price comparisons. Although selection at Costco is limited, when our undercover shoppers compared the prices of models available at Costco with similar models available at other stores, they found that Costco’s prices were among the lowest.
Because some companies make it hard for their customers to compare their prices by refusing to provide test results or by charging high testing fees to customers who wish to buy their aids elsewhere, get tested by a company that’ll give you a full written copy of your results. And find out what it charges for the test if you decide to buy elsewhere.
If a company offers free hearing tests, first find out what you get and what you don’t get. A free screening may not be equivalent to the full evaluation you need. Also, some “free” dispensers charge “consultation” or “fitting” fees, thereby negating any real savings. And be aware that a dispenser that charges nothing for a test may pressure you into buying something and might withhold a copy of test results.
After getting a hearing test, get that seller’s price for the aid it recommends and its full specifications.
You may save considerably by buying hearing aids online. Internet sellers will soon offer OTC models, but for many years now patients have been able to get tested and obtain fitting measurements from local hearing pros, then buy recommended devices online. But keep in mind that online purchases don’t offer the support you’d get from a top local audiologist or other hearing professional. With a local provider, you get to meet with a specialist before and after the purchase to ensure that your aid works well. Most hearing-aid purchases require several follow-up appointments before customers are comfortable and satisfied, and then periodic reevaluation and adjustments.
If you have mild hearing loss, you may need less support with adjustments and programming, so an online purchase may be fine. But because hearing loss is a chronic condition that usually worsens over time, you’ll still likely benefit from working with a professional.