When you purchase hearing aids it is important that you understand the long-term costs of running and maintaining them. While the upfront cost is by far the biggest expense, keeping the aids functioning well costs time and money. These costs vary greatly depending on the make, model, and technology level of the aids, and the policies and protocols of manufacturers and providers. Let’s take a look at the average cost of maintaining your hearing aids.
The main ongoing expense when it comes to hearing aids is the cost of the batteries. Every hearing aid needs a battery to run. Some newer hearing aids use rechargeable batteries, but even these need to be replaced from time to time. If you use a standard hearing aid with non-rechargeable Zinc Air batteries, they will need to be replaced regularly. The size of the battery, as well as your use of the hearing aids, influences how often they need to be changed. The smallest batteries, size 10, need to be replaced every 2-5 days, 312 batteries need to be replaced every 5-10 days, 13 batteries need to be replaced every 10-14 days, and 675 batteries need to be replaced approximately every 2-3 weeks. If you use your hearing aids for streaming sound and phone calls, you will most likely need to replace your batteries more frequently.
The price of hearing aids depends on the brand and the mark-up the supplier adds. Most batteries come in packs of 6 or 8, and the price works out from about 50c to $1,50 per battery. This table shows the average monthly cost per hearing aid for each battery size:
|Size||10 (yellow)||312 (brown)||13 (orange)||675 (blue)|
|Average battery life||2-5 days||5-10 days||10-14 days||14-21 days|
|The average cost per month (at $1 per battery)||$6-$15 per month||$3-$6 per month||$2-$3 per month||$1,50 – $2,00 per month|
If your hearing aids have rechargeable batteries, they may be covered, or at least partially covered by your manufacturer’s warranty, which is usually from 2-3 years. Sometimes rechargeable batteries are not covered, which means there is a cost should they need to be replaced. The cost of rechargeable batteries is approximately $25 per battery, and they would need to be replaced approximately every 18 months to 2 years. This would be done either in-house by your audiologist, or at the manufacturer’s lab.
In addition to batteries, there are a few other consumables that need to be replaced from time to time.
All hearing aids need to be kept dry and, unless you have an electronic dryer or rechargeable hearing aids, most people use drying capsules to dry their aids overnight. These orange tablets draw any moisture out of the hearing aids so that they are completely dry before you put them on in the morning. Drying capsules typically need to be replaced every 2-3 months, you’ll know when because they become a very pale yellow or off-white color. The average cost is about $2 per drying capsule.
If you have an In-The-Ear or Receiver-In-the-Canal hearing aid you’ll need to exchange its wax guard to clean it. The wax guard is a tiny filter that sits on the end of the hearing aid inside your ear. This filter stops wax from entering the receiver, or speaker of the aid, and damaging it. If this gets blocked, the sound will not be able to leave the hearing aid. It will sound muffled, soft, or even dead. Most people need to change their wax guard about every 2-3 months, but some people may need to do it more often, even up to once a week or more, depending on their personal wax production. Wax guards need to be purchased for your hearing aid specifically, as they are brand specific. They usually come in packs of 6, 8, or 10, and the cost usually works out to be about $1,50 per wax guard. This makes the average monthly cost of wax guards about 75c.
If you have a Behind-The-Ear hearing aid, you will have a slim tube that enters your ear. This slim tube is also a consumable, and needs to be replaced if it becomes hard, brittle, or if it tears or snaps. On average, this happens about every 6 months, but again, it differs from person to person. A replacement tube ranges from $3,50 to $6 per tube. You need to purchase the right kind of tube for your hearing aid and your acoustic needs.
Domes are small round tips at the end of some Behind-The-Ear and Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aids. These typically need to be replaced every 6 months. The average cost for hearing aid domes is about 50c per dome, but this can differ from brand to brand.
The final consumable is the receiver. For Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aids, the receiver, or speaker unit, is the most important, but also the most vulnerable part. This thin wire makes the aid almost invisible but can break, especially if the user is not gentle when inserting and removing the hearing aids. On average, receivers need to be replaced every 1 to 3 years. Sometimes this is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, but if not, it can cost between $150 and $400.
Most hearing aid companies and audiologists will supply users with batteries and consumables, to last the first few months. Some will even top up your stock as needed within the warranty period. Make sure to ask what is included with your hearing aid purchase.
Repairing the hearing aid
Your hearing aid should come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This is usually two or three years, and generally covers repairs to the hearing aids and (usually) one full replacement should the aid be beyond repair. While under this warranty, the cost to repair your hearing aid should be low, or perhaps even free. However, once you go out of warranty you will have to pay for any repairs or replacements. The cost of these repairs differs drastically from brand to brand, but on average repairs cost between $200 and $400 for electrical components (typically a microphone, receiver, or amplifier), or $500-$600 if the aid needs to be re-shelled or remade (most common if it was stepped on or bitten into by the family pet!). The price for either type of repair dramatically increases once the aids are over 5 years old, as parts become more difficult to find.
You may choose to extend your warranty to cover you should something happen to your hearing aids later. Adding a year to your warranty can be done upfront, and sometimes can even be done just before your hearing aids go out of their standard warranty. The cost differs from brand to brand and practice to practice but usually ranges between $150 and $400. Most audiologists will allow you to keep adding a year at a time for the full life of the hearing aid. If you consider the cost of repairs, this may well be worth it, especially if you are a person who produces a lot of wax or sweat, or if you are highly active. This cost also increases substantially once the hearing aids are more than 5 years old.
If you don’t want to extend your warranty, the other thing to consider to protect you in case of loss or damage to your hearing aids is insurance. A lot of people go through their normal household insurance broker, but there are companies that allow you to take out specific Loss and Damage insurance for your hearing aids. The prices vary depending on the type of hearing aid and it’s technology level, but insurance costs between $124 and $280 for loss and damage, and $216 and $390 for loss, damage, and repair per year. Remember, even with insurance you may have to pay a deductible, especially if your aid is lost or cannot be repaired. This deductible can be as low as $150, or as high as $1000 depending on your policy.
While all these amounts might sound like a lot, many of them are not regular expenses. On average, most hearing aid users will spend around $60 per year on batteries and consumables, and around $300 on either a warranty extension or a repair once the aids are out of their standard manufacturer’s warranty. Ask your audiologist or a Lexie hearing expert to break down the costs of your specific hearing aids before you buy them. This will prepare you for any expenses down the road.