Can you get a great deal buying hearing aids online?

These days, hearing aids are available everywhere you look. You can buy them from your trusted audiologist, in big box stores, from hearing aid dispensers in retail locations, and even online. But all these places and experiences are not created equal. Let's compare them and see what each has to offer.

Service

Audiologist

A doctor of audiology will have at least 8 years of formal education in the biology, biomechanics and chemistry of the ear, and in hearing loss and rehabilitation. An audiology practice is staffed with healthcare professionals who are formally trained to know and understand the ear and all its complexities. The service you receive from an audiologist will include a hearing test, various treatment options, hearing aid trials and follow up care.

Dispenser

A hearing aid dispenser employs people who may have some experience fitting people for hearing aids - and they may even have a special license to do so – but they are not audiologists, and they don’t hold the same level of education and expertise as a doctor of audiology. While a dispenser may have a variety of hearing aids to choose from, once you’ve got them, you’re on your own. Dispensers typically don’t have follow-up programs to help you get used to your hearing aids, and adjust them specifically to your needs.

Big Box Store

These stores employ salespeople, not trained audiologists. They are often serving multiple customers at once, with a focus on selling hearing aids by volume, not necessarily providing the best hearing aid option for your specific needs. They don’t offer follow-up services, making it difficult for the customer if the hearing aids need adjusting, or if there are problems with static or feedback in the first few weeks.

Online

When you buy hearing aids online, all you get are hearing aids delivered to your door. There is no way for an online retailer to check your hearing, or help you determine which hearing aids are best for you. There is no follow-up program, and no service beyond delivering the hearing aids to you.

Price

Big Box Store

The prices of the hearing aids at a big box stores are generally less than they would be at an audiologist’s office, because the models they sell are often older or outdated.

Dispenser

The prices of hearing aids at a dispenser usually falls somewhere between those of a big box stores and audiologists. Because a dispenser will have a little training in fitting hearing aids, the cost for that service is added to the overall price tag. But because you don’t get the same level of service and expertise that you do with an audiologist, that lack of service is reflected in the price.

Audiologist

Working with an audiologist, you get top-of-the-line hearing aids, with a large variety of devices to choose from to meet your specific needs. The price you pay will also include fitting, adjustments, cleaning, repairs, batteries, and a host of other services that are unavailable to you anywhere else.

Online

Buying hearing aids online is the cheapest way to get them, because an online retailer can buy hearing aids in bulk from various manufacturers, and sell them at a low cost because there is no pre-care or follow-up service once you buy your hearing aids.

Selection

Big Box Store

Your choice is limited at a big box store, because they don’t stock many options. With minimal connections to hearing aid manufacturers and limited inventory, you simply have to take what you can get.

Dispenser

Dispensers often have limited choices, much like big box stores. In trying to keep costs down, the models are often not the latest ones available, and because you’re not working with an experienced audiologist, you can’t know if what you have is the best available hearing aid for you.

Audiologist

A reputable audiologist works with various hearing aid manufacturers to offer patients the latest, most technologically advanced hearing aids on the market. While having so many options may seem overwhelming, the audiologist will work closely with you to find the right hearing aid suited specifically to your needs and lifestyle.

Online

Buying hearing aids online will give you almost unlimited options, because you can buy anything from anywhere. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Given all the different manufacturers, styles of hearing aids and features available, there are thousands of options to choose from. When you are looking at them at home alone on your computer screen, how will you know which option is best for you?

Overall Hearing Health

Big Box Store

Big box stores aren't in the business of caring for your hearing health. They don't have the resources, education or expertise to properly diagnose or treat your hearing impairment, or to help you rehabilitate your hearing over time. Their salespeople are trained to simply sell hearing aids, but not more. They will happily sell you hearing aids even if your hearing impairment is due to earwax buildup, which can be eliminated with a simple ear flushing.

Dispenser

Like a big box store, the primary reason dispensers exist isn’t for your hearing health. They are there to fit you with and sell you hearing aids. They lack the resources and expertise to diagnose and manage any major hearing issues, and may miss critical components of your hearing health as a result.

Audiologist

An audiologist will test your hearing and learn about your overall health and quality of life. They understand how your hearing can impact your life, and will take your needs, activities and lifestyle into consideration when laying out the best options for your hearing health. An audiologist has the education and experience to know that hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and will find the best solution for your specific hearing needs. And after you get your new hearing aids, the audiologist will continue to work with you, making tweaks and adjustments over time as your hearing changes, to ensure that the new devices continue to work effectively for you and your lifestyle.

Online

Buying hearing aids online not only doesn’t necessarily help your hearing health, but it may harm it. If you are wearing hearing aids that are inappropriate for your ears, it could result in a worsening of your hearing.

Conclusion

There are lots of options when you want to buy a hearing aid, but the best place to get them is through an experienced audiologist. An audiologist will not only be able to correctly diagnose your hearing impairment, but offer you the best hearing aids for you, give you access to a good aftercare program, and make sure you have the resources you need to use your hearing aids successfully