According to the World Health Organization close to 466 million people around the world have disabling hearing loss. Many of these people, just like you, find themselves exploring different hearing devices after diagnosis. This could be a daunting process as there are so many options available. The accompanying price of hearing technology should, however, not add unnecessary stress. The cost of one, and in some cases two, hearing aids can set you back a fair amount financially. However, is it necessary to break the bank? This article will help you understand why hearing aid prices may vary, how cheap and more expensive hearing aids differ, and guide you to pick the right device for you. You must select a hearing device that is best suited for you and your lifestyle, otherwise, the device might end up stored away in its box somewhere in a cupboard with no benefit to you whatsoever.
All hearing aids have the same basic purpose: they improve your hearing experience so that you can hopefully hear the sounds you could before. Similarly, all hearing aids have the same basic components. Before exploring what influences the cost of a hearing device let’s look at the device itself.
A hearing aid consists of three main parts: a microphone; an amplifier; and lastly a speaker. How does a hearing aid work? Sounds are received through the microphone and proceeds to be transferred into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the strength of the sounds, making them stronger and louder. Once the sound has been amplified it is sent into your ear/s through the speaker. However, despite all devices having a similar makeup, not all ears and hearing losses are the same. A hearing aid needs to make certain frequencies louder and needs enough power to do so. The primary goal of a hearing aid is to allow a hearing aid user to have access to “lost” sounds, therefore, most basic hearing aids can amplify sounds.
4 Factors that influence the price of a hearing aid
Apart from additional hearing aid features (such as Bluetooth functionality) influencing the price of a device, there are four other factors.
1. Type and degree of your hearing loss
This is one of the most crucial factors when selecting a hearing device. The type and severity of your hearing loss will determine the suitable hearing aid options your hearing health professional may discuss with you. How your hearing loss plays a role in the decision-making should be understood in three parts i.e. according to type, laterality, and degree/severity. Firstly, you may either have a sensorineural or conductive hearing loss, which will influence how your hearing impairment will be managed. Secondly, you may only have one ear that is affected and only require one device. If you have hearing loss in both ears you could benefit from one device, but it’s recommended to purchase two hearing aids. Having two hearing aids allows you to have better sound-locating abilities. Lastly, the degree/severity of your hearing loss is also a factor. Some hearing aids are designed to help people with mild to moderate hearing losses and others are specifically designed to provide people with more severe hearing losses with enough “power”. Hearing aids that need to provide more “power” tend to be more expensive than hearing aids for individuals with milder hearing losses.
2. Your lifestyle and hearing expectations
Your everyday lifestyle will play an important role in what kind of technology you would like your hearing aid to have. If, for example, you’re a bookworm and you prefer one-on-one social settings you wouldn’t necessarily want advanced features such as automated directional microphones or advanced noise-canceling technology. You might want to rather focus on improving the quality of natural sound or the clarity of conversational speech in quiet settings. On the other hand – if you’re a businesswoman/man you might find yourself constantly juggling business calls and socializing at business dinners. In that case, you might be interested in having better noise-canceling features which will help you better function in noisy situations, and even access Bluetooth Technology for your business calls. Your lifestyle might expect you to travel regularly and living a fast-paced life might make you forget to check your hearing aid batteries. In this case, you might prefer having rechargeable batteries instead of using standard non-rechargeable Zinc Air batteries.
3. Hearing aid size and aesthetic
Just like with reading glasses many people are self-conscious when it comes to wearing their hearing aids. Hearing aids have many colors, shapes, and sizes that determine their pricing, and also when customized to your liking could make them easy to hide from the naked eye. When exploring your options you might come across terminology like ‘slim tubes’, ‘in-the-canal’ (ITC), and ‘completely-in-the-canal’ (CIC). ITC and CIC hearing aids can go unnoticed, but when considering these devices you must also be conscious of your dexterity and fine motor abilities. If you struggle to hold and manage smaller items with your fingers you might need to consider a behind-the-ear (BTE) device. If you’re not worried about being discrete, i.e. using a color matching your skin tone for your hearing aid casing, you can find hearing aid casings in a wide variety of colors to match your personality and embrace your hearing loss.
4. Hearing Aid Features and Programs
Hearing aid features are selected not just based on your lifestyle, but also on what would suit your hearing loss best. When you purchase a standard entry-level hearing aid you may have limited choices specific to the range of programs available to you. Most entry-level hearing aids can improve your hearing when you need to hear clearer in quiet, one-on-one situations and when watching television. A more advanced entry-level hearing aid may offer higher-quality sound and advanced noise-reduction. Expensive hearing aids can offer a lot more to make your hearing experience better and broaden your access to sounds in your environment. Other functions expensive hearing aids may offer include automated background noise reduction features, adaptive directional microphones, digital feedback (the high pitched whistling sound a hearing aid makes) reduction, self-learning features that allow the device to pick up and automatically adapt to your most frequent listening situations, wireless and Bluetooth connectivity and remote control. Remote control implies that you can control the different programs on your device through your smartphone.
The good news is that with advances in technology, many more affordable hearing aids, like the Lexie Lumen hearing aid, now offer the same features as expensive hearing aids.