Hearing Aid Overview
For people with hearing loss, hearing aids are an essential tool to help them communicate more effectively and enjoy their daily lives. But because insurance rarely covers hearing aids and the cost of cutting-edge technology is high, many people go without.
According to the results of a national study reported by AARP, only one-third of adults age 55 and older with self-reported hearing loss use hearing aids—and the primary obstacle is price.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of hearing aid devices available. These cost anywhere from $99 to $8,000 per pair at full price and can be found online and at brick-and-mortar clinics. In this article, we explore why hearing aids cost so much and how to save money on your next hearing aid purchase.
See our top choices for the most affordable hearing aids.
What Determines Hearing Aid Prices
Technology And Features
As with any tech device, a lot comes into play when determining the price of hearing aids. According to Rudolf Probst, MD, a medical doctor specializing in audiology who works with Audiology Research: “The technology level and features included will affect the purchase price of a hearing aid.”
Leading brands like Phonak, Resound, and Oticon produce some of the most expensive hearing aids because these brands are at the forefront of technological innovations. For instance, the Phonak Lyric is the smallest invisible hearing aid on the market, and Oticon’s BrainHearing technology employs findings from in-house research audiologists to improve the sound.
Other features and technologies that can increase the cost of hearing aids include:
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Directional microphones
- Tinnitus sound therapy
- Rechargeable batteries
- Artificial intelligence
If you want a hearing aid molded to the shape of your ear canal, you won’t be purchasing budget-friendly hearing aids. The reason for the slightly higher price tag is two-fold. First, you must visit an in-person hearing aid specialist or audiologist. Second, only leading brands provide custom-fit hearing aids, so you’re paying for the hearing aid fitting, the brand name, and newer technology.
Where to Buy Your Hearing Aids
“Online and mail order hearing aid purchases tend to be cheaper but have their shortcomings,” explained Dr. Probst. When you purchase hearing aids from online brands and discount retailers like ZipHearing, they usually have a lower price tag compared to in-person hearing aids with similar features.
Unfortunately, there are downsides to shopping online rather than in person. The first shortcoming is that you don’t receive an in-person audiology exam, which provides more benefits than just a standard hearing test. When you work with an audiologist, they can provide medical advice and diagnoses as well as performing a hearing test for you. Additionally, only in-person hearing clinics provide custom-fit hearing aids, which can help with comfort, fit, and hearing quality.
“The other big difference if you see a hearing professional is they can do and should do real ear measurements (REMs),” said Rachel Magann Faivre, Au.D., an audiologist and owner of Oklahoma City-based ASH Audiology. “Research shows REMs are the single most important thing that can be done for best hearing aid outcomes. So, it’s super important. Someone can purchase online hearing aids or amplifiers and then take them to a hearing professional for REMs, but of course they’ll have to pay for the service.”
Service and Maintenance
Hearing services and hearing aid maintenance are significant contributors to cost. Most audiologists and hearing aid specialists have bundled pricing, which means that your hearing aids come with appointments, cleanings, and other maintenance. Some companies even offer unlimited accessories like hearing aid batteries, which can add up over time.
While it can be helpful to have everything included in one price, you might not need all the bundled perks. If you aren’t new to hearing aids, consider unbundled pricing, which can save you money upfront. But keep in mind that you’re then responsible for paying to clean and maintain your hearing aids, and you may need to shell out a per-visit price when you need upgrades or other assistance.
Warranty and Trial Period
Every pair of hearing aids should come with a risk-free trial period and warranty. The more generous these policies—especially the warranty—the more you’re likely to pay upfront. However, a generous trial period and warranty can help save you money over time.
The best warranties cover both defects and loss and damage. Ask about what’s covered, what isn’t, and whether there’s a deductible. You may choose to pay for an additional warranty to extend coverage, which costs more money right away but protects you over time.
Hearing Aid Cost Breakdown
Full-price hearing aids cost around $800–$8,000 per pair. Where you buy your hearing aids, the features, and technology determine the final cost of your hearing aids.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay based on where you buy your hearing aids.
- Audiologist’s office: $2,000–$8,000 per pair
- Online: $800–$3,000 per pair
- Costco: $1,300–$2,500 per pair
Additionally, expect to pay more for:
- Bluetooth hearing aids
- Rechargeable hearing aids
- Accessories and custom earmolds
Are There Sales On Hearing Aids?
Online brands like MDHearingAid, Eargo, and Jabra Enhance (formerly known as Lively) frequently run hearing aid sales. But there aren’t many deals at in-person locations like Costco or audiologist clinics. To save money at these locations, compare prices, which can vary between clinics.