Shopping for hearing aids online is a way to potentially save a lot of money versus getting hearing aids at traditional clinics or doctor’s offices. Along with savings, however, you may be sacrificing performance. Read below to learn about the seven most important things you need to know before purchasing hearing aids online.
1. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
When searching for hearing aids online, there are typically three different levels that devices will fall into. These levels are “generic”, “private label” and “name brand.”
Generic hearing aids will cost a couple hundred dollars and are not produced by any of the leading hearing aid manufacturers. These aids tend to lack a lot of key features and technologies.
Private label hearing aids will cost a bit more than generic and are actually manufactured by one of the top six worldwide manufacturers. Private label hearing aids will not include the manufacturer’s top level of technology or performance.
Name brand hearing aids will cost a couple thousand dollars. These hearing aids will be the full-featured aids that are also available at hearing aids clinics and audiology offices.
2. Fit may be difficult to find.
When buying hearing aids online, it may be difficult to find a pair that physically fits into or onto the ear correctly and comfortably. When a hearing aid does not fit appropriately, it can affect how well it helps you hear. When ordering hearing aids, there are a lot of variables such as wire length, ear bud dome size, and so on. These variables will affect your comfort as well as the functionality of the aids.
3. Getting the device programmed well may cost you.
Most likely, when you buy a hearing aid online it will come pre-programmed to whatever standard manufacturer settings best match the hearing test you sent in. While these settings will probably help you, they will never get you to your maximum hearing capacity on their own. Instead, hearing aids need to be finely tuned to match your unique prescription, and the only way to do this properly is through real ear measures. Real ear measures are able to match the hearing aids to your exact needs, and can only be completed when physically sitting in front of a professional.
4. If you’re going to buy online, buy the name brand.
This may seem counterintuitive. Most people go online to purchase hearing aids at a discount, so why would I ask you to purchase the most expensive level available? The reason is simple. With name brand hearing aids, you know what you are going to get, and it will be the highest quality. Also, your audiologist will definitely be able to complete the proper programming with these types of hearing aids. Most audiologists will not be able to do so with private label or generic devices. Unfortunately, private label and generic hearing aids come with their own proprietary adjustment software that most audiologists do not have access to. Also name brand hearing aids will typically come with a warranty making repairs or part replacements much easier.
5. Consider maintenance and repairs.
Unfortunately, hearing aids are exposed to harsh conditions as they live in or on your body for their entire lifetime. Because of this, every hearing aid will require some type of service during its lifetime. When something does go wrong, you are going to want to take your device into a clinic and get it repaired as quickly as possible. Conversely, you could send the device into the place you bought it from online and wait that turnaround time. It is important to remember that you would be without amplification during this wait period. Hearing aids also need periodic service and cleanings done by a professional every three to six months to ensure longevity and effectiveness.
6. You need a hearing test to buy hearing aids online.
An over-the-counter hearing aids act was recently passed and signed into law. In the next few years, we will all be able to walk into a store or purchase hearing aids online without a hearing test. As of now, however, a hearing test is still mandated in order to buy hearing aids. When getting a hearing test, it is important to do so from a licensed hearing aid dispenser or audiologist. Online hearing tests are not calibrated, and there are too many outside factors for them to be accurate.
7. Savings may vary.
People generally buy hearing aids online for two reasons, to save money or save time. In terms of the actual sticker price of the hearing aids, you will most likely save money by buying online. When considering these prices, however, it is important to remember that additional costs will occur. These costs include getting your hearing aids correctly programmed, any custom ear molds you may require or repairs. Perhaps the most important factor when considering cost between online hearing aids and those from a clinic is the continuous care your aids will need. Without continuous care, your hearing aids will not last as long, and you will end up buying a new pair of hearing aids sooner.