Hearing Loss


I’ve been suffering for many years, 10 at the very least, with untreated hearing loss. I do my best to compensate by reading lips, or mentally filling in the blanks in conversations based on context, but the lack of hearing precision does cause a lot of problems for me at home and at work (not to mention socially!)

My hearing loss has gone untreated largely because most employers provide health care plans that exclude hearing aid coverage, and the way the industry works, hearing aids cost thousands of dollars. But now I work for an employer that provides fairly decent hearing aid coverage in the health care plan, and I’m getting this taken care of.

The process is a little off-putting because I feel like everyone involved is hiding information from me. I’m a tech specs kind of guy. Let me review and see what I’m buying. I’m a smart guy; I can handle it. I initially tried looking into Audicus, who sells hearing aids online, but that experience triggered every fight-or-flight instinct in me. They have so overly dominated the search engines with their astroturfing that I’ve found it very hard indeed to find any kind of honest third party review of their products or services, and their contact management system more or less nags you once you initiate contact with them (in a very clumsy way, mind you). I had to contact them to ask basic things like whether or not their hearing aids included a telecoil.

I’m playing the waiting game now. Some Phonaks are coming my way, pending the approval of my health insurance carrier, to the tune of about $5,000 out of the insurance company’s pocket. Another $200 is coming out of my pocket to add a telecoil, and if I want ear moulds that is going to be another $150 out of my pocket.

I did get to demo a set of hearing aids at the audiologist’s office, programmed to my hearing loss profile but at a conservative sound level to avoid accidental damage without the benefit of a full custom fit. I must say, the quality of sound that I was hearing was remarkably improved. I’m very much looking forward to completing this process so I can have their benefit of the hearing aids for more than 5-10 minutes. πŸ˜‰

Some wireless accessories were mentioned in my first visit, but it looks like Phonak charges an arm and a leg for these. I have a lot to learn about my options.Image

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5 comments

  1. It’s great that you are doing your research before investing. Phonak is a great brand. So glad that you didn’t go with some kind of online purchase, you would not have been happy with the result. A lot of the success that you get with your hearing aids depends on how much experience the person fitting them has. The reason they start you at a conservative level is because it takes several weeks or months for you brain to adapt to hearing sounds that it has not heard in a long time. Then in your follow ups they can bump up the db’s and make other adjustments. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

    1. Actually I ended up going with the Audicus. The audiologist at first told me that the insurance company would cover a good part of my hearing aid purchase but in the end it actually would have cost thousands of dollars out of pocket, even with the insurance company contributing. The Phonaks sounded great in my demo but not great enough to cost 5x more than the Audicus (which, as you suggested, are not as good).

      I’d much rather go the audiologist route but the cost structure does not make sense.

  2. Thanks for posting this blog entry. It quite interesting to me as I am in a similar situation. I have a very difficult time processing language in noisy environments (at a party, etc). It becomes difficult to socialize with a group of people — to the point where I usually try to avoid those situations.

    What made you decide to get tested and treated? How did you start the process? Do you have any good resources on the web to share? I guess I’m looking for a bit of a push to start having it treated.

    Feel free to respond via email.

    Cheers!

    1. Hello,

      I have known for many years that I was hard of hearing, but the way the health care system and hearing aid industry are structured in the USA, hearing aids are not affordable for most people. So I have done without them for a long time, and learned to compensate.

      Last year, I was asked to step up into a leadership position, and it was immediately obvious that I would need to be assured of better comprehension of what the people around me were saying. I couldn’t fake my way through life anymore. πŸ™‚ I went to a couple of audiologists but honestly that was about as silly as going to a Maserati dealership. The only good that came out of it was getting an audiogram done. I ended up ordering hearing aids from Audicus for about USD$1,000. They are ok, not great, but have made a very big difference in my life. When I say “they are not great”, I did get a chance to try some nice premium hearing aids at the audiologists office and the quality difference between the two was pretty stark. The change in my lifestyle, and in my career, has been amazing now that I can hear people again. If you can afford to go the mail order route, please consider it.

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