Hearing aids are one of the biggest expenses – and biggest decisions – facing older adults. As hearing grows worse, a set of hearing aids could be the perfect solution. But unfortunately, hearing aids are incredibly expensive, costing thousands of dollars per pair. And seniors living on fixed incomes can’t always afford these high costs.
Yet hearing loss is a real, common problem. More than two out of every three Americans age 70 and older experience “meaningful” hearing loss. But only 20 percent of those people actually buy hearing aids because of their cost.
But there are ways to save money on hearing aids. In fact, you can buy affordable hearing aids. You can even choose budget-friendly hearing devices that may be able to help you. Here are a few different types of hearing devices and hearing aids, with tips you can use to find more budget-friendly options.
Personal Sound Amplification Products
Many people with hearing loss can consider personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. These devices, which are not hearing aids, can amplify sounds and help the wearer better hear conversations, TV shows, and other important sounds.
PSAPs look similar to hearing aids, and they’re also worn inside the ear. They often feature adjustable settings, which you can customize to hear whatever’s happening around you. Some also include directional microphones or adjustable frequencies.
And while personal sound amplification products aren’t the same as hearing aids, they can be a helpful substitute. A research study compared PSAPs to hearing aids and found that hearing aids were only a bit more effective. The researchers tested over-the-counter PSAPs against hearing aids that cost thousands of dollars, only to discover that there’s only a small difference in sound quality when you opt for hearing aids.
While PSAPs aren’t approved by the FDA and cannot be marketed as hearing aids or devices that improve hearing, they may be helpful to some individuals. The National Academy of Sciences and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology support PSAPs for mild to moderate hearing impairment.
And PSAPs are significantly cheaper – personal sound amplification products cost about $300 to $350 per pair. That’s a huge price difference compared to hearing aids!
Here are a few examples of PSAPs you can purchase, which are available without a prescription:
- Sound World Solutions CS50+: $350 for a pair. This PSAP can reduce background noise, be adjusted for different settings and environments, and even offers Bluetooth capability and a smartphone app.
- Etymotic Bean: $214 individually, or $399 for a pair. This PSAP runs on disposable batteries, features an omnidirectional microphone, and can pick up nearby sounds. You can control volume levels and other adjustments.
Hearables are one of the newest advances in hearing device technology. Like PSAPs, hearables are not hearing aids – but they may offer benefits for those who are struggling with their hearing.
Hearables got their start as a type of wearable technology. Commercial electronics companies, like headphone brands, began creating in-ear buds that can measure biometrics, play music, and amplify sound. Recently, hearing aid companies have also begun creating hearables of their very own. And certain hearables can now amplify sound, sync with other tech devices, and perform more functions.
Right now, hearables are new technology. But they may become a realistic option for those with hearing issues or impairment. Doppler Labs is working on hearables that will augment and aid hearing, and currently available hearables can improve sound quality.
While hearables are still in early stages, there are a few options available. One hearable that you can try right now is Nuheara IQ Buds. This product, which costs $299 per pair, looks like a regular pair of earbuds. They can stream music and sync with a smartphone app, but most importantly this hearable can dampen ambient noise, help the wearer hear others while talking, and can be purchased without a prescription.
Remember, hearables aren’t hearing aids, and they offer many features for those without hearing loss. But, with research and the right features, they may also offer some benefits for those in need of sound amplification or adjustment.
Hearing aids are the only hearing loss product that’s approved by the FDA to help improve hearing. They are only available via prescription, and you’ll need a hearing test in order to be able to purchase hearing aids.
When you purchase hearing aids, you can choose between digital or analog options. You’ll also choose which type, or style, of hearing aid works best for you. You can pick:
- Canal hearing aids, which fit inside your ear and is typically hidden from view.
- In-the-ear hearing aids, which fit into your outer ear and are more visible.
- Behind-the-ear hearing aids, which are fitted into both the outer ear and around the back of your ear.
However, these factors don’t mean that hearing aids have to cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. There are a few ways you can get affordable hearing aids – and it all depends on the brand and retailer you choose.
These are a few options of how you can find a pair of affordable hearing aids:
- Costco: Costco offers hearing services, including hearing tests and audiograms. And you can purchase hearing aids that start at $1799 per pair.
- HearTek Leasing: If you don’t want to purchase hearing aids, you can lease them at a more affordable price from HearTek. This company offers hearing aids for up to 30 months at a time, with monthly payment prices starting at $49.99 for different hearing aids.
- Audient.com: Audient is a nonprofit hearing care group in the U.S., and it offers deeply discounted hearing aids for the hearing impaired. Low-income individuals can qualify for its guidelines – and if you qualify, you can get hearing aids discounted in the price range of $990 to $1575 per pair.
Find the Right Hearing Aids or Device for Your Budget
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you don’t have to pay the high prices you see at the doctor’s office. You can find affordable hearing aids – and you may even be able to consider other types of hearing devices. PSAPs, hearables, and traditional hearing aids can all be options if you’re aware of what’s out there.
Before you begin shopping for hearing devices or hearing aids, make sure to speak with an audiologist. You want to find the right option for your needs and your specific hearing situation. And while the right device will be within your budget, it should also help you hear the world around you better.
Don’t forget to shop around. You can consider options beyond what’s offered by one company or one doctor’s office. You can also look online and compare different devices, their prices, and their benefits. That’s the best way to ensure you’re considering every affordable choice.