ATLANTA — According to the CDC, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States.
Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard explains that despite their popularity, hearing aids are rarely covered by insurance.
Michael Rosenberg said he started noticing a hearing problem years ago.
“I can hear people talking, but the speech isn’t clear enough for me,” he said. “The audiologist said that for some reason you lost 30% of your high frequencies.”
Rosenberg shopped around for hearing aids and found that most hearing aids cost just over $2,000 per ear.
“The cheapest I could find at Sam’s or Costco was about $635 each,” he said.
Next, Rosenberg heard Clark talk about iHear Medical, an FDA-approved home hearing testing and hearing aid company.
Adnan Shennib is the founder and CEO of iHear. He says their goal is to make hearing healthcare accessible to everyone who needs it.
“What’s unique about this, in addition to being very affordable, is that you can actually customize your setting yourself at home,” Shennib explained. “We’re delivering this technology directly to the consumer online so that when you go through the process, you can actually hear male speech and female speech and even birds chirping, and we make sure you’re able to hear those sounds based on your individual abilities.”
The cost of iHear is $349 per ear, but this cost decreases after discounts.
Shennib told us that iHear has partnered with Ameritas Insurance to cover their customers’ devices.
“For most of them, it will probably be 100% covered because of affordability,” he said.
He thinks that as the cost of hearing aids goes down, more insurance companies will cover them.
Jodi Seligman is a Doctor of Audiology at the Auditory Verbal Center in Atlanta and admits cost is a barrier for many people with hearing loss.
“We try to help people hear better, if we could give away these hearing aids for free we would,” she said.
Although she applauds new technologies, she worries that do-it-yourself hearing aids do not meet the specific needs of each individual.
“I went to school and learned how to program a hearing aid more effectively and check and validate people’s results with all my equipment and those are things that make fitting a hearing aid more efficient. “said Seligman.
Shennib says effective care shouldn’t be a concern for anyone considering iHear.
“We’ve demonstrated that our accuracy or variability is very consistent with the test results you get from a hearing healthcare professional,” he explained. “We have audiologists as hearing care professionals, licensed professionals who are available to help consumers with any issues we have.”
Clark says there are other ways to find affordable hearing aids.
“Think of how many people we know who have trouble hearing but won’t spend money on hearing aids,” he said. “So even the cheaper PSAPS are personal hearing aids that aren’t considered medical, and they can cost as little as $99.”
Cox Media Group