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Throughout the past few years there has been a flurry of activity regarding discount hearing aid retailers, online retailers, and the like.
Discount and mail order hearing aids are nothing new. The difference (and challenge) now is that the internet is very widely used and insurance companies are getting into the business of selling hearing aids via the internet. Consumers have their insurance company telling them one thing, Google searches revealing multiple online retailers, local advertising points them in another direction, and maybe their doctor telling them yet another thing. With the abundance of online retailers and large insurance companies promoting discount / internet hearing aids, the lines are increasingly blurred between the best practices of fitting hearing aid(s) and the low cost hearing aids available through different methods.
While all of this is going on…
– Professional associations who represent licensed hearing professionals are condemning avenues of dispensing other than the traditional method. Which is go to a local hearing healthcare professional, get your hearing tested, and if appropriate, fit with hearing aids.
– Groups such as the HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) are in support of methods for obtaining hearing aids which will result in decreased cost and increased adoption of hearing aids.
– Discount retailers advertise the ability to purchase the same hearing aids you get in a traditional office for a fraction of the price. On top of that, they are proud to tell potential customers that they have “cut out the middle man” – implying that hearing healthcare professionals are an unnecessary step in obtaining hearing aids.
Confusion is abound, but we want to help clarify things with this short (we will try) explanation.
We are in support of expanding the reach of hearing aids to those who need hearing help. Many different factors affect why only 20-25 % of those who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them (and believe it or not, cost is not at the top). It has been proven time and again that advanced hearing devices when fit and adjusted properly (acoustically and physically) result in a high level of satisfaction – a level not attainable without professional intervention. These individuals are able to use them all day every day – much like glasses or contact lenses.
One should obtain hearing aids in a way which maximizes their benefit and usability based on a number of factors. If this can be accomplished in a safe manner adhering to the laws governing hearing aid dispensing (by state), then we should embrace it. However, over 40 years of experience and countless surveys and studies have shown us that for the majority, the so called traditional and “costly” way of doing things results in a far better outcome over and over again.