Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
According to Consumer Report’s Hearing Aid Guide, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $6,000 for a pair of custom-made hearing aids. While it might be tempting to purchase a less expensive pair online or from a big box store, the best way to improve your hearing is to work with a hearing healthcare professional who can test your hearing, recommend the best hearing device for your type of hearing loss and provide the follow up care necessary to keep you hearing your best.
If discount hearing aids aren’t the answer, how do you pay for the right hearing aids when you can’t afford them? Fortunately, you do have options. First, start with your private insurance company. If it doesn’t provide coverage for hearing healthcare, ask your local hearing center. Many local hearing centers participate in hearing aid refurbishing programs and/or work with local agencies that provide hearing aid assistance to community residents who can’t afford them. At the very least, these centers may be able to offer you a reasonable payment program to help spread the cost of your hearing aids over a longer period of time.
If your local hearing center can’t help you, contact your local United Way office and ask if there are any community organizations that provide hearing healthcare assistance. If this avenue is a dead end, seek help from one of the following organizations.
U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs: Are you a veteran of our armed forces? If so, you may qualify for financial assistance from the VA. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website, veterans must register for assistance at the health administration/enrollment section of your VA Medical Center. Once registered, you can request a referral to an audiologist from your assigned VA Primary Care Provider. The audiologist will complete an evaluation and determine if you need hearing aids. If you qualify, your hearing aids, repairs and batteries will be provided at no charge to you.
Social service organizations: Other service organizations, such as Kiwanis and Optimist Clubs, often offer financial assistance for hearing health for low-income residents in their respective communities. Because eligibility for these programs differs from chapter to chapter, contact the local clubs in your community to see if you qualify.
Audient: Audient helps low-income people in the United States access quality hearing aids and related care at significantly lower prices. Candidates must qualify for assistance, based on their household income. All of Audient’s hearing aids are new, digital hearing aids supplied by top manufacturers and, while they aren’t provided free of charge, the discount is significant. Contact your hearing healthcare provider to see if they work with Audient. If not, Audient will refer you to a provider in your area that does work with their program once you are qualified.
Medicaid: If you have low income, you may qualify for hearing aids through Medicaid. To find out if your state participates and if you qualify, visit the Medicaid website. Medicare does not cover hearing aids and most hearing tests.
Vocational Rehabilitation: Are you a prospective or current college student? Or are you still employed? If so, you may qualify for hearing aids through your state’s vocational rehabilitation program. Hearing Loss Association of America has a list of agencies by state which provide financial assistance, assistive technology or rehabilitation services.
As you can see, help is available to those who struggle with the cost of hearing healthcare. That’s good news because healthy hearing contributes to better relationships with family and friends, more income in the workplace and better physical and mental health. If you think you may have hearing loss, schedule a hearing test with your hearing healthcare professional immediately. Don’t let financial difficulties keep you from preserving your hearing and leading a happy, healthy and productive life.