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Earlier in the year, we wrote about the basics of insurance and hearing aids. Because this is a popular topic, and one that could use more attention from a source other than the insurance company, we want to touch upon it again.

One thing has remained fairly constant, insurance companies do not provide true “coverage” for hearing aids. However, what we have seen recently is a number of insurance companies who desire to offer a hearing aid “benefit,” and why wouldn’t they? Over 10 percent of the American population has some form of hearing loss and that number is growing.

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.

It is generally at the worst time possible. You are on vacation in a foreign country and your hearing aid(s) stop working! It is a situation that that no one would want to be in. If someone with good hearing suddenly lost their hearing it would be a major problem. We understand what it is like and how much of an inconvenience it can be.

The good news is most issues are avoidable; the bad news is many people don’t take steps to avoid the issues! While hearing aids today are advanced in many ways, they are still electronic and susceptible to the environment they are used in – a fact that is easy to forget. While some people can literally go years without cleaning or needing to repair their hearing aids and there are some who have constant issues and therefore have more maintenance requirements.

To lay out a common situation that occurs in our office, we will tell the fictional but common story of Mr. and Mrs. Canthear who both need hearing aids. Upon testing, we see that both of the Canthear’s have an identical hearing loss, but Mrs. Canthear has an “understanding” level of 60 percent when using both ears while Mr. Canthear has an understanding level of 90 percent using both ears. This means that even with hearing aids compensating for the loss in hearing range, Mrs. Canthear only understands about half of the words presented to her, but it Is a vast improvement over her ability to understand only 25 percent of what is being said without using hearing aids (determined using aided vs. unaided word testing).

We talk so much about the importance of having your hearing checked, and providing help to your hearing when there is the need (with hearing aids) that it is easy to think that once you get a properly fit set of hearing aids that the problem is entirely solved. While hearing aids help immensely, there are still some situations where a hearing aid, no matter how advanced or expensive it was, cannot reproduce certain sounds and make it intelligible for the user.

That is where assistive listening devices and other assistive systems come in. They can provide that extra help when needed and it could mean the difference between the user being included and simply being left in the dark, so to speak. Much of the time, once we can get a patient using that assistive device, they wonder how they ever lived without it (much like their hearing aid!)

If you have been reading past blog posts, you know that we have visited the topic of internet hearing aid sales and its effect on patient satisfaction. As it so happens there are surveys conducted called Eurotrak and JapanTrak which track consumer use of hearing aids in six European countries and Japan. From this we can draw some conclusions which help to support the fact that a hearing aid fit by a licensed experienced professional is often the key to satisfaction.

Note: When we say regulation, we are speaking generally of laws limiting the ability to fit hearing aids to those individuals who have been licensed in their respective state to do so. Despite these regulations, retailers are still able to skirt the rules by exploiting loopholes.

Earlier in the year, we wrote about the basics of insurance and hearing aids. Because this is a popular topic, and one that could use more attention from a source other than the insurance company, we want to touch upon it again.

One thing has remained fairly constant, insurance companies do not provide true “coverage” for hearing aids. However, what we have seen recently is a number of insurance companies who desire to offer a hearing aid “benefit,” and why wouldn’t they? Over 10 percent of the American population has some form of hearing loss and that number is growing.

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.

It is generally at the worst time possible. You are on vacation in a foreign country and your hearing aid(s) stop working! It is a situation that that no one would want to be in. If someone with good hearing suddenly lost their hearing it would be a major problem. We understand what it is like and how much of an inconvenience it can be.

The good news is most issues are avoidable; the bad news is many people don’t take steps to avoid the issues! While hearing aids today are advanced in many ways, they are still electronic and susceptible to the environment they are used in – a fact that is easy to forget. While some people can literally go years without cleaning or needing to repair their hearing aids and there are some who have constant issues and therefore have more maintenance requirements.

To lay out a common situation that occurs in our office, we will tell the fictional but common story of Mr. and Mrs. Canthear who both need hearing aids. Upon testing, we see that both of the Canthear’s have an identical hearing loss, but Mrs. Canthear has an “understanding” level of 60 percent when using both ears while Mr. Canthear has an understanding level of 90 percent using both ears. This means that even with hearing aids compensating for the loss in hearing range, Mrs. Canthear only understands about half of the words presented to her, but it Is a vast improvement over her ability to understand only 25 percent of what is being said without using hearing aids (determined using aided vs. unaided word testing).

We talk so much about the importance of having your hearing checked, and providing help to your hearing when there is the need (with hearing aids) that it is easy to think that once you get a properly fit set of hearing aids that the problem is entirely solved. While hearing aids help immensely, there are still some situations where a hearing aid, no matter how advanced or expensive it was, cannot reproduce certain sounds and make it intelligible for the user.

That is where assistive listening devices and other assistive systems come in. They can provide that extra help when needed and it could mean the difference between the user being included and simply being left in the dark, so to speak. Much of the time, once we can get a patient using that assistive device, they wonder how they ever lived without it (much like their hearing aid!)

If you have been reading past blog posts, you know that we have visited the topic of internet hearing aid sales and its effect on patient satisfaction. As it so happens there are surveys conducted called Eurotrak and JapanTrak which track consumer use of hearing aids in six European countries and Japan. From this we can draw some conclusions which help to support the fact that a hearing aid fit by a licensed experienced professional is often the key to satisfaction.

Note: When we say regulation, we are speaking generally of laws limiting the ability to fit hearing aids to those individuals who have been licensed in their respective state to do so. Despite these regulations, retailers are still able to skirt the rules by exploiting loopholes.

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