I was given a pair of barely used hearing aids from a generous heart who now has a pair of cochlear implants. I was thrilled the day they arrived, happy to move on from my 10 year old aids, (which were also pre-owned and came to me courtesy of the Coos Bay Lion's Club in Coos Bay, Oregon).
Fabulous Husband made an appointment for me over in Lancaster with an audiologist to get the hearing aids fitted and reprogrammed for my particular hearing loss. When he called and inquired about the fee for reprogramming a pair of hearing aids, they told him it would cost $200.00.
We ran through the standard hearing test, I learned nothing new. However, I did ask if the hearing aids worked. The audiologist told me we would not know until the ear molds were made.
I had to have custom ear molds made with vents to keep the air flowing into my ears. I have chronic ear disease and this is a must. This pair of ear molds cost Fabulous Husband $175.00 on the spot.
When the ear molds were ready, we went back to begin the process of getting the donated hearing aids reprogrammed. We were absolutely ecstatic that I would soon be hearing better than I have been been with my old hearing aids. I have them turned all the way up these days. I desperately need more volume because I'm loosing clarity of sounds. I'm not able to distinguish words or sounds as well as I used to.
When we arrived, we were told that we had been quoted the incorrect fee for reprogramming the hearing aids. It would not be $200.00 for the pair, but $200.00 per hearing aid. to reprogram both would be $400.00.
I saw a different audiologist at this appointment. He was very kind, and genuinely tried to do everything he could to get the hearing aids working. One did not work at all and would need to be sent in for repairs. That would cost an additional $200.00.
We tried the other hearing aid. It was awful. I could hear myself, it was fuzzy and barely could hear anyone else. The audiologist tried everything he could think of. He was on the phone with the company helping with downloading the program, but nothing was working. I was beginning to think they just didn't believe me about how bad these were sounding. My old hearing aids were far clearer than this newer one.
The audiologist stepped around from behind the desk and asked if he could listen to one of my old hearing aids. I could tell by the surprised look on his face that he was not expecting such a difference between my old hearing aid and this much newer one. He picked up the phone and told the person from the company that makes these new hearing aids that my "about 15 years old" hearing aids were better than these newer ones.
It was suggested we send that hearing aid with the other one to be repaired, at a price of another $200.00.
The tally at this point for my donated hearing aids would be $200.00 repair per hearing aid = $400.00
Reprogramming each hearing aid would be $200.00 each = $400.00
Hearing aid molds = $175.00 (they later refunded half of our money for these when we were in dispute)
Total = $975.00
No thank you. btw... those ear molds were NOT needed to test the functionality of the hearing aids. So we now had a pair of ear molds that were not going to be used at all. We spent $175.00 for nothing.
As we were preparing to leave, they told us that a representative from Starkey Hearing Aids would be visiting their office the following week. They suggested that the ear molds would work well with those. We thought it would be a good idea to at least check out the other technology.
The Starkey representative was VERY informative. I am losing my ability to understand or distinguish sounds I used to hear. My left ear has the same amount of loss as my right ear, yet my right ear distinguishes sounds better, although not perfect, and I have lost a serious percentage of that ability. The scientific name for losing the ability to distinguish sounds is "phonetic regression."
With a new pair of hearing aids and a training program, I would be able to train my brain to "hear" better and more accurately than my current condition.
At this point, we were told by the Starkey representative that I could try a demo pair of hearing aids. However, that was not the case. That was only if we paid in full for a new pair.
Fabulous Husband was told about a year ago that our insurance would reimburse him $800.00 per hearing aid. AFTER the purchase.
This day, we were told hearing aids are not covered because the online form posted on the insurance's website had the box unchecked. Fabulous Husband had the receptionist call the insurance company and they told her that hearing aids aren't listed on the website because they are a supplement. How many people have looked online to see if hearing aids are covered by insurance only to see they are not... not realizing that there is a supplement program and they must call the company in order to access the program.
Insurance companies need to be more forthright regarding hearing aid coverage, AND they need to provide coverage BEFORE people spend their retirement, or family vacation money for hearing aids just so they can hear and function in the hearing world.
DEAF TAX. We have to pay a very steep price to take part in the hearing world, to experience what hearing people take for granted..daily.. (I'll step off the soap box now and get back to what happened next).
The cost of a NEW pair of hearing aids functional for EVERY part of my life would be $6,000.00.
SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS TO HAVE THE
So, that was that. No new hearing aids for me. We just spent and enormous amount last December flying home when my mother unexpectedly passed away. This is an expense I don't want to saddle my family with right now.
The ear molds are totally useless. They did refund us half of the money we spent for them. I am now the owner of a pair of absolutely useless ear molds.
Fabulous Husband had quite a bit to say over this entire process, how we were quoted one thing, and it end up being much more with each added $200.00 as we moved from one item to the next. He was also very upset that the first audiologist did not test the functionality of the hearing aids and told me they couldn't be tested without the ear molds. That was not true; they can test the functionality without the ear molds.
In addition to all of this, Fabulous Husband lost 2 days of work over this entire process.
I contacted the lovely person who donated these hearing aids, and she was "shocked, just shocked." They were in working order before she shipped them to me. She requested I return them so that she can send them to an organization that fixes and donates them to others who need them. I love that!
After our email convesation, I learned that someone from the audilogists office called and said they would reprogram the hearing aids and whatever else we needed for $200.00. That window is closed and quite frankly, that is not a hearing aid dispensary I ever want to return to because I have lost trust with them through this whole process.
TIPS WHEN VISITING THE AUDIOLOGISTS OFFICE
1. Go only to an audiologist that comes highly recommended by someone you know. Don't go to just a hearing aid dispensary, but go to an actual Doctor of Audiology. It was an astute audiologist, Dr. Debbie Frey who quite possibly saved my life.
2. Call your insurance company and don't just ask about hearing aids.. ask about the supplement program for hearing aids.
3. Ask for pricing BEFORE you make the appointment, and hold them to that quote. If they begin to tack on fees for every thing through the process, tell them you'll think about it and leave. Go compare prices.
4. Never go to the audiologist alone. Take a witness with you and have them jot down notes for you. They may come in handy later.
5. If you find a great audiologist, stick with them... even if you have to wait weeks, or longer to see them.