Faced with new problems in hearing over the past 6 months, it was a hassle to arrive at a resolution.
With this posting I may be able to help others avoid at least some of the hassles. It is frustrating to be faced with up to a $7,000 cost for something tiny which may or may not work.
That may or may not be necessary
The high cost results from regulations requiring qualified experts to fit hearing aids and the support which is sometimes necessary and for those with limitations
The cost also reflects the ability in digital hearing aids to deal with sound issues using digital programs in many different ways, and the cost of those efforts.
The effect is that most of the 50% who are hard of hearing at 75 simply do not get hearing aids.
Now that it is understood that dementia goes along with loss of hearing, this is unacceptable
Regulations are now therefore loosening through bipartisan effort.
At the same time new players are entering into provision of self-programmable hearing aids at low cost, such as Bose and Zounds
The hardware for a hearing aid is very inexpensive. Again, what is expensive is the programming logic which is Incorporated in it and the fitting to a particular customers needs
I went to an ENT physician and four hearing aid providers, all of whom were most helpful and gracious in trying to help me find a solution.
Surprisingly, all of them indicated that Costco's least-cost Kirkland KS8 Signature hearing aid ($1,600 for two) should be able to restore my moderate to severe inability to hear most normal conversation.
This Costco hearing aid, which is essentially the Signia NX, is the basic hearing aid which is sold elsewhere for as much as $7,000.
It took me a while to learn that.
The problem is that there are no metrics (numbers) for us to compare the functionality of various hearing aids.There is no Consumer Reports evaluations in lab tests.
The only way to compare was to visit four major hearing aids vendors.
One of them said “it hurts me to say so” but the Kirkland hearing aid is the best of them.
Here in this community we have an audiologist who can support this hearing aid at a fee-for-service cost for those who are not able to get to Costco. That is invaluable.
Costco can be intimidating. It is often crowded. It is large. Getting around might be difficult for those with mobility problems. Parking can be a problem. Costco does have motorized carts.
At the prices that Costco offers, Costco does not have the ability to assist you before you buy, but it offers a 180-day trial once you buy the hearing aid. So you go there and purchase up front. A short demo will prove nothing anyway. (Costco does everything possible to keep prices to a minimum and does a major business in hearing aid sales. You need to become a member, and you will save by getting a Costco credit card and thereby exrend your warranty from three to five years.)
Now those with severe to profound hearing loss may do better to go to a provider who can offer more bells and whistles than come with the Costco hearing aid. Such providers may offer service where you live or on a walk-in basis at any time.
Costco will supply the minimum start up for you but with ongoing but limited support.
Inpurchase considering the Kirkland hearing aid, it first seemed to me that the ability to use the iPhone was really just a frippery. I learned very quickly that it is absolutely essential to have an iPhone to support their hearing aid
The price of the iPhone at $175 plus $25 a month service from Consumer Cellular is trivial compared to the cost of the hearing aid