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Fri Dec 10, 2021, 02:31 PM

What am I actually paying for, and is it worth it?

So I went for my introductory visit with the audiology clinic my ENT recommended yesterday. It was basically gathering information, and trying to figure out what I need to put in my 2022 FSA to help me pay for the deaf aids.

I walked away with a quote of $6900 for rechargable binaural devices, including all fitting, programming, maintenance and repair for three years.

This seemed high.

I checked the manufacturer's website and found that the very top-of-the-line devices they make (I assume these are the ones they're recommending, but I'll need to get specifics, they only gave me a general advert brochure from Phonak) are priced by the maker at $3700.

So... the audiology clinic's share is apparently $3200 over three years? Is this reasonable? Is the fitting, programming, maintenance etcetera really that costly and requiring that much professional expertise? Especially since they offer "extended" services after the three-year warranty is over, for $300 a year for two more years...?

I am tempted to go to Costco and ask if they can match it, but the problem there is that the nearest Costco is about an hour's drive from us. I understand that the devices need regular servicing, and it would be a nuisance to have to make that commute. Plus, generally, the services at a Costco hearing aid center are techs, not PhD audiologists.

I can understand the advantage of a highly trained audiologist to do the initial hearing test and analysis of my specific hearing loss, but my ENT already did that, and I have the audiogram and visit notes. And I can go back to her for an annual checkup and a new audiogram and that will be partially covered by my insurance, which covers NONE of the audiology clinic charges.

Am I being bent over, here? Or is it really worth it to have an audiology clinic at hand, doing all that stuff, for the additional expense?

Voices of Experience, please chime in?

bewilderedly,
Bright

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Reply What am I actually paying for, and is it worth it? (Original post)
TygrBright Dec 2021 OP
pandr32 Dec 2021 #1
TygrBright Dec 2021 #2
pandr32 Dec 2021 #5
SCantiGOP Dec 2021 #7
BlueTexasMan Dec 2021 #3
TygrBright Dec 2021 #4
BlueTexasMan Dec 2021 #8
DavidDvorkin Dec 2021 #6
TygrBright Dec 2021 #9
DavidDvorkin Dec 2021 #10
DavidDvorkin Dec 2021 #11
TygrBright Dec 2021 #12
DavidDvorkin Dec 2021 #13
TygrBright Jan 2022 #14

Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 02:39 PM

1. Take the hour drive to Costco

I couldn't be more happy with the hearing aids (Kirkland) I paid $1300 for and I have profound hearing loss.
They will, free of charge, service your hearing aids for you as a customer, too.

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Response to pandr32 (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 02:55 PM

2. Does Costco provide loaners if your devices need to go to the manufacturer for service?

And if you need an 'emergency' re-programming, can you get an appointment quickly, or go to a local clinic that services the brand you bought from Costco?

hopefully,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #2)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 03:31 PM

5. I am in Hawaii

...but, they offer a free replacement one time if anything goes wrong.
If I were you I would call your local Costco hearing center and make an appointment so you won't have to make two trips. They will give you a hearing exam and fit you.
I also learned that Kirkland puts their name on top brands. My devices are a Kirkland 9.0 model, but the newer 10.0 model is in Costco stores now. It is made by Sonova which makes the Phonak brand.
My ENT had referred me to an audiologist who tested me and tried to convince me that the only hearing aids that would work for me would be thousands of dollars. I asked her about Kirkland hearing aids and she told me that they are only for mild hearing loss and would not work. She lied. Also, I could finance my hearing aids if I needed to through her.
I am very happy with Costco. I walk in there to shop and they will clean my hearing aids for me and check them out.
Their batteries are inexpensive there as well.

Best of luck

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Response to pandr32 (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 05:04 PM

7. I'm a huge fan of Costco

Except the last glasses I got. Had my exam with the ophthalmologist, but took the prescription to Costco (doctor office cost for lenses and frames were 3-4?times as much).
Glasses were horrible. Couldnít see well driving at night and right lens wouldnít focus just watching tv.

My problem is I donít know whether the exam or the lens making was at fault. From now on, Iíll have the exam where I get the glasses.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 03:19 PM

3. You dropped the soap

An audiologist can tell what frequencies you are compromised in, therefore creating a prescription for filling in the gaps in the damaged areas. With my supplemental coverage, I got an audiologist with three followup visits if I purchased a hearing aide, no charge. I would be billed $80 if I didn't purchase one. I did buy one and was offered 3 options; $1000, $3000 and $4000. I bought the expensive one with Bluetooth and rechargeable batteries and insurance paid 3/4ths of it.

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Response to BlueTexasMan (Reply #3)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 03:25 PM

4. Yeah, my insurance covers bupkis except otolaryngologist visits.

So assume I'm on the hook for anything else.

I already have the audiogram detailing frequency deficits, immitance, word perception clarity and so forth, I assume that is the basis for the 'prescription'? If I already have that, is there any great benefit to a PhD audiologist doing the 'prescription' versus a hearing aid specialist?

The 'prescription' is basically programming specifications for a digital device, is that correct?

curiously,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #4)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 05:12 PM

8. Yes

That is how they program them to fill in the gaps. Follow ups are for fine tuning and questions you may have while learning how to use them.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 04:11 PM

6. What servicing are you thinking of?

Mine don't require servicing.

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Response to DavidDvorkin (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 06:20 PM

9. They said I'd need to have the programming checked against a hearing exam annually, and

... they should also have professional cleaning and a check to ensure all the parts are working as they should, at least annually.

And that the first three months I should plan on at least two visits for fitting adjustments and to fine-tune the prescription.

It sounds like a lot, but what do I know?

I did find out that the maximum my FSA will let me withhold is $2750, so everything above that is tax-deductible, anyway.

confuzzledly,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 07:12 PM

10. Nah

You can have a hearing test free at Costco whenever you think your hearing aids need adjusting, and they'll do any adjusting for free. Same applies to software updates.

I've never heard that about the professional cleaning.

Go to Costco.

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Response to DavidDvorkin (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 07:18 PM

11. Added to the above:

I buy my hearing aid batteries at Costco. They cost about half of what you pay in the drugstore.

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Response to DavidDvorkin (Reply #11)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 08:32 PM

12. I was gonna go for rechargeable. Why not? Apparently the devices wear out before the batteries. n/t

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #12)

Fri Dec 10, 2021, 09:06 PM

13. Depends on what's available at various prices

But if the numbers are okay, rechargeable would certainly be more convenient.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Fri Jan 7, 2022, 09:45 PM

14. I ordered a set of Rexton aids from Costco today.

They are rechargeable and what is called "open fit". They have a telecoil, and allow direct connection to any Bluetooth device.

And best of all - Costco can now do adjustments and programming REMOTELY.

So we will not have to drive to Albuquerque any time the aids need servicing or adjustment.

They'll arrive next week.

I still have mixed feelings about the whole deal, but I realized the last few days that having to pay such close attention, and put so much effort into hearing clearly, has been having a slow and rather subtle negative effect on my mental health and energy levels. So we'll see how this goes.

hopefully,
Bright

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