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Tuesday December 11, 2018

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Three Ways to Cut Hearing Aid Costs

I have heard that hearing aids may soon be available over-the-counter and may be much cheaper than they currently are. What can you tell me about this? My husband desperately needs hearing aids but we simply can't afford them.

Unfortunately, for many years the high cost of hearing aids has kept millions of Americans with hearing loss from getting hearing aids because they cannot afford them.

Hearing aids are typically sold through audiologists' offices and can be quite expensive. The cost usually ranges between $1,000 and $4,000 per ear and is not typically covered by private insurance or traditional Medicare.

However, there is good news on the horizon. Last summer, President Trump signed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 into law. This will allow people with mild to moderate hearing loss to buy hearing aids without consulting an audiologist. These over-the-counter (OTC) devices could sell for between $250 and $300 at drugstores and other retailers.

The problem, however, is that it will be a couple more years before these OTC hearing aids are available to consumers. In the meantime, here are some tips that can help you find some affordable options.

Check Your Insurance


While most private health insurance companies do not cover hearing aids, there are some that do. For example, Aetna members can purchase aids at a discount through certain suppliers. United Healthcare offers hearing aids through hi HealthInnovations for $799 to $999 each.

Some federal workers, as well as residents of Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, can get their hearing aids covered by health insurance. Eligible veterans may also be able to obtain hearing aid coverage through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

About half of all Medicare Advantage plans offer at least partial coverage or discounts on hearing exams and devices. If your husband is a Medicare recipient, be sure you check his coverage to see if it offers any type of hearing aid benefit.

Shop Around


Consider shopping at Costco, which offers no-cost screenings at certain locations. The company offers competitive prices on hearing aids, which range between $500 and $1,500 each. You can also shop online at websites like EmbraceHearing.com and Audicus.com, where you may be able to save up to $2,000 per pair. Once you receive your device you may need to visit a local specialist to make any necessary adjustments.

Another option is over-the-counter personal sound amplification products (or PSAPs). Unlike hearing aids, PSAPs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. PSAP manufacturers are not allowed to call these products hearing aids or claim that they help hearing. Nevertheless, these devices are very effective for people with mild to moderate hearing impairment and typically cost between $350 and $450 each. To find a wide variety of PSAPs, see assistive listening sites like Harris Communications (HarrisComm.com, or call 866-476-9579).

Look For Assistance


If your income is low, there are a number of national, state and independent groups that can help you pay for hearing aids or offer discounts. To find them, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website at ASHA.org/public/coverage/audfundingresources or call the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at 800-241-1044, and ask them to mail you its list of financial resources for hearing aids.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published February 23, 2018
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