Thinking of buying hearing aids online? What people routinely do for prescription eyeglasses is a lot trickier for hearing aids!
What you need to know about buying hearing aids online
Buying hearing aids online can be convenient and cost-effective. But you’ll find you’re wasting money instead of saving it unless you do two things in concert when buying a hearing aid online:
- Get an in-depth hearing screening before you buy.
- Have a proper fitting for your ear canal after you buy.
We’ll discuss a bit later how to get free hearing screenings before you make a purchase. But the point we want to stress is that buying hearing aids online involves some substantial homework on your part — so it’s not for everybody.
In addition, there are other possible limitations with online buying that you need to be aware of. For example, you don’t necessarily get access to follow-up appointments as necessary for adjustments, to change the batteries when required and other maintenance.
So, the first thing to understand about buying hearing aids online is that this is not like buying a pair of glasses online. You don’t get to just slap them on and forget about them!
That said, there are still some viable options out there for buying hearing aids online. You’ve just got to understand the complete picture before you go down this path.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what you need to know about purchasing hearing aids online and a few places you might want to shop if you decide to go in this direction.
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Top places to buy hearing aids online
When you’re thinking about buying hearing aids online, the trick is to find an online retailer who will give you some level of service after the sale.
To do that, you might ask an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor who isn’t necessarily looking to sell you a hearing aid where he or she recommends you buy online based on their experience.
Or, you could check out these options…
Most hearing aids purchased through Sam’s Club have a 30 to 90 day money-back guarantee. But be sure to call your local club to confirm before purchase.
The warehouse club also offers a number of online-only deals on hearing aids. As always, you’ll still need to get a hearing screening before buying and an initial fitting after the purchase.
iHear claims to be the world’s first high-quality invisible hearing aid that allows you to select settings at home for $499 per ear. Around major holidays, iHear will typically cut the price by a hundred dollars or so, making it just $399 per ear to buy.
The patented iHear device — which is advertised as being the size and weight of a kidney bean — fits discreetly and safely inside your ear. This is a new, cheaper, FDA-approved hearing-aid alternative.
If you’re thinking about getting one, consider taking the optional FDA-approved test for $69 that iHear offers online. (Requires a personal computer with an Internet connection.)
“We can fine-tune your hearing aid with your test results or a recent audiogram,” Tony Sodano, Chief Information Officer at iHEAR Medical, Inc., tells Clark.com. “You have the option to buy the hearing aids out-of-the-box with presets that covers 80% of hearing loss types.”
If you do complete the optional FDA-approved test, you’ll get an iHear Hearing Number which can be used to monitor your hearing annually.
Here’s the proprietary scaling system:
- 5 – Good hearing
- 4 – Slight loss
- 3 – Moderate loss
- 2 – Severe loss
- 1 – Profound loss
Meanwhile, all iHear products come with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
HearingDirect is an online-only business that’s located in Great Britain but ships to the United States. This service offers a wide variety of ready-to-wear hearing aids that don’t require fitting or a hearing test.
To be clear, we’re not recommending that you buy a hearing aid without a proper hearing test first. But we do want to present this as a possible option that’s out there for you to consider.
All hearing aids sold through HearingDirect come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
While this online seller doesn’t necessarily offer service after the sale, you do get access to an online audiologist who promises to reply to your questions within 24 hours.
Free hearing tests and more
Throughout this article, we’ve stressed that you’ve got to get your hearing checked before you buy a hearing aid online. Fortunately, there’s a great way to do that for free!
Costco offers free hearing tests — even to non-members. So it’s easy to check that requirement off your list! However, just keep in mind that you’ll still need to be a member if you want to buy a hearing aid through the warehouse club.
Meanwhile, if money is tight, you may be able to get a free reconditioned hearing aid from a local civic organization.
Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club and others do this periodically based on your income. Reach out to your local organization for further details.
With an aging population, more and more of us are suffering from hearing loss. The extent of that loss can range from mild to moderate to extreme.
No matter where you fall on the hearing loss spectrum, you want to get your hearing issues addressed. Buying hearing aids online is an easy way to accomplish that. Above all else, you need to understand that hearing aids are not a one-size-fits all proposition.
So, while buying hearing aids online can save money, you really should have your hearing properly tested first and a proper fitting once you get the device.
That’s why there’s no substitute for getting professional advice from someone who specializes in hearing issues — an audiologist, an ENT doctor or a hearing aid specialist — at least once before you try buying online.
Be sure to pay special attention to the trial period offered by online sellers, too. The longer you have to test the hearing aid you buy online, the more likely you are to be happier with it in the long run.