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Thread: Hearing Aids – What do I need to know?

  1. #1
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    Hearing Aids – What do I need to know?

    I have finally accepted the fact that I may need hearing aids. There are so many scammers out there that I don’t know where to start. Should I just walk into Costco’s hearing center and trust them? I am much more interested in quality than in a bargain.

    I would love some advise from those that have been down this road.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    You will get very good hearing aids at Costco and you'll pay a LOT less. I bought my aids at Costco and paid about $2,500 for the two. Those EXACT same aids at the ear doctor would have been $7,000.

    Costco gets the aids at a good price from the manufacturer and pays their audiologists a salary instead of a commission. They sell the aids for a reasonable markup. Other advantages:

    1. You have 6 months to try the aids out. Any time within 6 months you can take the aids back and get your money back. The ear doctor usually gives 30 days.

    2. Your aids are guaranteed for 5 years (if I remember correctly - check with them). If you have problems it will not cost you anything to get them repaired.

    3. You get free insurance against loss. So you could go in and tell them you lost your aids and you'd get new ones free. But if you show up with your original aids, you won't get them back. They have the serial numbers.

    The cost to build hearing aids is very low. What you're paying for is the engineering and marketing cost. That's why they can give you new aids if you lose yours. And the hearing aid companies sell through Costco for the same reason. Costco has high volume and if the hearing aid company makes $100 per aid, that's a $100 that they wouldn't have gotten if they didn't sell through Costco. They make much higher profit selling to the ear doctor (but much smaller volume per doctor).

    The issue, to me, is whether the audiologist at your local Costco is good. Some are better than others so ask friends who have experience there.

    Mike

    [P.S. I've worn aids since I was in my 30's so I have a lot of experience. I've also purchased three sets of aids from Costco. One set I wasn't satisfied with and returned. They gave me all my money back.
    One other piece of advice. They will try to get you to use what's called "domes" in your ears. You'll do better with a custom ear mold. They charge $75 at the Costco here to make them and you can't return those. This is for over the ear hearing aids.]

    [P.P.S. The ear doctors and their audiologists hate Costco (for obvious reasons) and will say all kinds of bad things about them. Take it with a grain of salt.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 02-02-2019 at 8:28 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
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    Thank you Mike, that's what I was hoping to hear. I would prefer in-ear over over-ear. What are the advantages/disadvantages between the two?
    Please help support the Creek.

    My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

    - Steven Wright

  4. #4
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    Some high school kids are now using the wireless earbuds and their cell phones as hearing aids. They think it is "cooler" then wearing a hearing aid.
    Bill D.

  5. #5
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    Bruce,

    Sorry to read about your need of hearing aids!

    Mike is right about Costco hearing aids and audiologists in general. Some of their hearing aids are just a slightly different packaged respected major manufacturer hearing aid.

    The cost of a hearing aid from an independent retailer varies. 2 years ago today I got a new model sound processor for my cochlear implant and was fitted for a new ear mold for a new hearing aid for my left ear. The new hearing aid was the same as the one I had EXCEPT it could communicate with the sound processor for my CI, it runs similar programs and I can adjust programs or volume from either device which results in changes to both devices. Medicare doesn't pay for hearing aids so I had to buy this one and it was $1,000 cheaper than it's very similar, same manufacturer, predecessor that I purchased at another ENT clinic. This latest HA was purchased from the audiology group associated with my CI clinic.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 02-03-2019 at 12:07 AM.
    Ken

  6. #6
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    Thanks Ken. I was at our monthly retired old farts lunch yesterday and between the background noise of the delicatessen and the ten of us all talking I could barely hear a complete sentence. My tinnitus doesn’t help either. It’s time to get it checked out.
    My frugal FIL went through cheap hearing aids like candy. It seemed like every time I talked to him he had a new pair. I don’t want to deal with that.
    Please help support the Creek.

    My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

    - Steven Wright

  7. #7
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    It sometimes frightens me to realize what one looses as deafness sets in.
    It's the closeness to family and friends that is perhaps the greatest loss.
    I wear very hitech hearing aids and my experience is that ringing in the ears is not fixable.
    Mine work in some situations, not others. With certain types of voices I hear perfectly. Other voices at differing frequency are barely understandable.
    All in all, beneficial.

  8. #8
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    Bruce,

    My left ear is dead, it's the one that has the CI and I am profoundly deaf in my right ear. I was told that my hearing aid for my right ear is the most powerful one manufactured. With the aid of the HA that right ear measured 6% in my last sound booth test. I can't function with just the HA. But I can function quite well with just my CI. Until recent model changes, Costco sold the identical hearing aid to my previous HA. I'm sure it was much cheaper than the over $3,000 that was paid for my initial hearing aid. My latest hearing aid is identical except as I stated it can communicate with my CI sound processor. This HA can only be purchased at a cochlear implant clinic. A change in programs or volume to either one will initiate the same change in the other device simultaneously. That is a software option that can be turned on or off. To be able to balance my hearing between my right and left ears, I wanted to be able to control the volume of the hearing aid independently from the sound processor so the HA audiologist turned that option off but any program changes I make does effect the other device. Thus if in a noisy hearing environment, I switch one device to a noise program, the other device switches to it's noise program too.

    It's amazing how far hearing aids have come! Now they have the ability to tune (mapping it's called with a CI) narrow frequency bandwidths by adjusting the gain for that bandwidth. Thus if you have a hearing deficit in a certain frequency range, they can adjust the gain for that range to try to balance or compensate for your ears deficit. My hearing aid can have up to 5 different programs. I only use 3. I have a "normal" program for every day use. I use a "noise" program for noisy audio environments as in my shop when the DC is running or a restaurant and a "music" program that I use when I listening to music. The music program is raw, it uses no special frequency compensations. The other programs can cause me to miss subtle weaker sounds that in music give it more depth.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 02-03-2019 at 12:27 AM.
    Ken

  9. #9
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    I have to turn nearly all the bass off to enjoy music. Otherwise it drowns out instruments I'm fond of....piano, violin and drums.

  10. #10
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    Ken, this is probably a stupid question but how do you make these program changes, is it an app on your phone?

    Bill, as far a I know there is no cure for tinnitus. I have tried a few over the counter wonder treatments to no avail.
    I did read somewhere that too much salt in your diet makes it worse and alcohol makes it better. Go figure..
    Please help support the Creek.

    My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

    - Steven Wright

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Page View Post
    Thank you Mike, that's what I was hoping to hear. I would prefer in-ear over over-ear. What are the advantages/disadvantages between the two?
    I actually prefer the in-ear aids but I specifically wanted the aids that had Bluetooth in them so that I could connect them to my smartphone. It's made a world of difference in being able to use the phone. When I use my phone, the sound is right there in my ears. I can actually understand what people are saying when they call me.

    I would HIGHLY recommend that you get aids with Bluetooth - it's really worth while.

    Beyond that, in-ear or over the ear, your choice. They both work but I somewhat prefer in-ear. I think the in-ear aids have Bluetooth now. Not the little aids that they call in-canal aids, but the larger in-ear aids.

    Mike

    [I'll also add that with Bluetooth, I can listen to music on my smartphone and it's amazing how clear it is. The aids have a frequency response curve that compensates for my hearing loss (most people lose high frequencies) so I hear music "normally", adjusted to my hearing loss. Of course, hearing aids are not like normal hearing and in high noise situations, it's very difficult for me to understand speech.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 02-03-2019 at 1:02 AM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Page View Post
    Ken, this is probably a stupid question but how do you make these program changes, is it an app on your phone?

    Bill, as far a I know there is no cure for tinnitus. I have tried a few over the counter wonder treatments to no avail.
    I did read somewhere that too much salt in your diet makes it worse and alcohol makes it better. Go figure..
    Maybe with enough alcohol you just don't notice the tinnitus

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  13. #13
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    I got mine just over a year ago at Costco. Senior discount (Alberta $800 off the top) and walked out at around $1200 for the pair. They're fairly small, silver colour, and had them for a bit before people noticed. Some still never have, or maybe just polite!

    The girl at Costco (ear lady) said they were cheap (in price) because of Costco Memberships, and that was a way the passed the lower cost on to members.

    I have been very happy, got the app on my phone for adjusting volume, that's handy.

    My experience is that I can walk in at any time, they will clean them, replace the wax guards and domes, give me a supply of each of them, and when I ask how much, they say $0.00. Where do you get that kind of service anymore.

    I made the right choice - for me.
    Funny, I don't remember being absent minded...

  14. #14
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    I think about this more and more and would also likely entertain using Costco for all the reasons stated. My right ear has had issues for many, many years (sclerosis of some kind) and my left has degraded a bit. Speech discrimination in noisy environments is very difficult as a result of all of this and when I was still working full time (technical sales) it was not uncommon for me to have to turn my head to favor my left ear during some conversations...which also required me to explain why I was doing that since it might seem like I was staring off into space rather than paying attention. LOL
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
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    50 years of hearing aid need has given me a cynical opinion of a lot of the consumer sales end of the industry. I'll leave it at that as I could rant for pages about some of what I perceive as marginal ethical practices in an effort to maximise profits at a customer's uninformed disadvantage. Rant off. I have never dealt with Costco but find them generally well regarded on a few forums I read. Given options of where to purchase aids I would go to Costco then a non profit medical organization and absolutely last to a retail distributor.
    Never run with bagpipes. You might put your aye out. Or worse, get kilt.

    The problem with humanity is: we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and God-like technology.

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