ASL University


 Things to Consider when Choosing and Buying a Hearing-Aid


By Holly Elder
March 15, 2015
 

Things to Consider when Choosing and Buying a Hearing-Aid

 

The average income for a family living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2012 was $39,884. Hearing-aids, which only last a few years, can be very costly depending on the power, brand, and model of the hearing-aid.  My latest hearing-aids, Phonak Nadia Ultra Power, purchased in the summer of 2014 from UPMC cost a total of $10,137-per hearing-aid.  However, the exact same hearing-aid could cost as little as one to two thousand dollars if purchased directly from a smaller business. Since hearing-aids can be very costly, someone who is getting new hearing-aids must be sure that the model chosen has the functions needed to provide the optimum benefits.

            There are many brands of hearing-aids.  The brands I have used in the past are Oticon, Phonak’s Super, and Phonak’s Ultra Power hearing-aids. However, there are many other brands including Rexton, Siemens, Widex, Unitron, Sonic, and many more as well. Each brand has its pros and cons, such as the number of channels and other benefits available for the aids.   The charts below show the models, the power of the model, and the prices of the model to buy or rent the hearing aids per month.

 

 

Phonak Hearing-Aids

 

Powers

Price to Own

Price per month

Warranty

Audeo V

V30, 50,70,90

$1,699 - $2,899

$47 - $81

3 years

Audeo Q

V30, 50, 70, 90

$1,599 - $2,799

$44 - $78

3 years

Bolero Q

V30, 50, 70, 90

$1,599 - $2,799

$44 - $78

3 years

Virto Q

V30, 50, 70, 90

$1,599 - $2,799

$44 - $78

3 years

Nano

V50, 70, 90

$1,899 - $2,799

$53 - $78

3 years

Naida Q

V30, 50, 70, 90

$1,599 - $2,799

$44 - $78

3 years

Nios Micro

II, V

$1,849 - $2,299

$51 - $64

3 years

Milo

V30

$1,599

$44

3 years


 

Siemens Hearing-Aids

 

Power

Price to Own

Price per month

Warranty

Sirion

 

$1,599

$44

3 Years

Orion

3mi

$1,899

$53

3 Years

Insio

3,5,7mi

$1,899 - $2,999

$53 - $83

3 Years

Ace

5, 7mi

$2,299 - $2,999

$64 - $83

3 Years

Aquaris

3,5,7mi

$1,899 - $2,999

$53 - $83

3 Years

Pure

3,5,7mi

$1,899 - $2,999

$53 - $83

3 Years

Motion

3,5,7mi

$1,899 - $2,999

$53 - $83

3 Years

Eclipse

301  701

$1,899 - $2,999

$53 - $83

3 Years

Pure Carat

XCL 301, 501, 701

$1,949 - $2,999

$54 - $81

3 Years

Nitro

3, 7mi

$1,899 - $2,999

$53  $83

3 Years

Life

3,5,7mi

$1,899 - $2,999

$53 - $83

3 Years

 


 

 

 

Rexton Hearing-Aids

 

Power

Price to Own

Price per Month

Warranty

Finesse 2c

18 2c

$2,499

$69

3 Years

Strata 2c

12, 16, 18 2c

$1,999 - $2,499

$56 - $69

3 Years

Accord 2c

12, 16 2c

$1,999 - $2,299

$56 - $64

3 Years

Charismo 2c

12, 18 2c

$1,999 - $2,499

$56 - $69

3 Years

Onyx

Eco +, 8+, 12+

$1,599 - $1,999

$44 - $56

3 Years

Day

4+, 6+

$1,499 - $1,599

$42 - $44

3 Years

 


Sonic Hearing-Aids

 

Power

Price to Own

Price per month

Warranty

Bliss

80, 100

$2,199 - $2,699

$61 - $75

2 Years

Charm

40, 80

$1,599 - $1,999

$44 - $56

2 Years

Pep

20

$1,499

$42

2 Years

Flip

60, 80, 100

$1,799 - $2,699

$50 - $75

2 Years

Endura

6, 12

$1,999 - $2,499

$56 - $69

2 Years

 


Unitron Hearing-Aids

 

Power

Price to Own

Price per month

Warranty

Quantum² S

E, 10, 16, 20, Pro

$1,499 - $2,799

$42 - $78

3 Years

Moxi²

E, 10, 16, 20, Pro

$1,499 - $2,799

$42 - $78

3 Years

Moxi² Kiss

E, 10, 16, 20, Pro

$1,499 - $2,799

$42 - $78

3 Years

Quantum HP

E, 10, 16, 20, Pro

$1,499 - $2,799

$42 - $78

3 Years

Max

E, 6, 20

$1,599 - $2,699

$44 - $75

3 Years

 


Widex Hearing-Aids

 

Power

Price to Own

 

Warranty

Dream

110, 220,330, 440 110, 220, 330, 440 RIC

$1,499 - $2,999

$42 - $83

Up to 3 Years

Clear

220, 330, 440

$1,899 - $2,799

$53 - $78

2 Years

Mind

220, 330, 440

$1,899 - $2,799

$53 - $78

Up to 3 Years

Passion

105, 110, 115, 440

$1,999 - $2,999

$56 - $83

Up to 3 Years

Flash

105, 110, 115, 440

$1,999 - $2,999

$56 - $83

1 Year

 

 


Prices

            Many different factors can affect the price of hearing-aids: technology, durability and reliability, personal adjustments and customization, product lifespan, manufacturing costs, marketing costs, warrantee costs, free trial costs, and inflation are the main factors. Technological advancements affect the cost of hearing-aids. When you buy the hearing-aid, some of the cost funds the development of new technology and features that the companies come up with in order to keep their product competitive. Durability plays a part in the cost as well, because companies have to invest heavily making sure their switches, mics, receivers, chips, cases, connectors, and even battery contacts hold up through years of normal and abnormal use. When getting custom fitted hearing-aids, the placements of some of the different parts will be adjusted to the size and shape of the ear. The manufacturing costs are added by the company to ensure the profit is greater than the costs, in order to stay in business. The competition also plays a major role in the final price of the hearing-aid. To spread awareness of their products, the hearing-aid companies advertise. Another potential cost to the company is through warranty repairs and the return of product after free trial periods. The risk that the companies take and the variable expenses they incur are then transferred to the overall cost of the hearing-aids. Finally, inflation makes the hearing-aid prices rise along with the economy.

 

Pros and Cons

The charts above show how much variety hearing-aids have, even within the same brand. While each company has their cons, they all have more pros, which make them good hearing-aid companies for different people. 

For example, Phonak is widely used for children and young adults because they are student orientated. Some of their hearing-aids can compress and shift higher frequencies into a frequency range that is easier to hear. However, they have many moisture related problems with their hearing-aids. Also, they are currently having design issues with the audio-shoes, a part that helps connect the FM system with the hearing-aid.

Siemens is the only company that has developed a functioning, completely water proof hearing-aid. They also have developed a hearing-aid circuit that in some situations can give the listener better hearing than people with normal hearing, and ways to control the volume of your hearing-aid with your iPhone. The only major downfall to using Siemens hearing-aids is that the more advanced features are only available on their high end hearing-aids.

Rexton is owned by Siemens and therefore shares in some of the technology of the parent company. The Rexton pricing is generally lower than that of Siemens, but the technology advancements may not be made available in the Rexton line for six months or longer and some of the features may never be offered to Rexton.

Sonic hearing-aids are the brand that came out with variable processing. This allows the user of the hearing-aid to hear speech better in difficult listening environments.  Sonic is slower to come up with new, groundbreaking ideas for their hearing-aids.

Unitron has a great feedback system; however, they have had some major in-house and personnel changes, which have affected their technology and customer service departments.

Widex has very advanced hearing-aids, including a powerful but discrete hearing-aid. Unfortunately, their hearing-aids are also expensive and the programing software is difficult to comprehend.

Accessories

            Each hearing-aid company has different accessories intended to add options and functions for customers’ different needs or wants. Currently, the goal is to have everything wireless and to connect hearing-aids with Bluetooth devices. Because each hearing-aid brand has different goals and options, they all have different accessories.

Phonak offers almost unopposed services with the Frequency Modulation (FM) system.  The FM system is a device that allows a person wearing hearing-aids to more easily hear the person wearing the FM system.  The FM system is used mostly in school settings by students and teachers. Phonak also makes a device called the iCom which connects the hearing-aids to Bluetooth compatible devices. They also have a cordless phone that can connect directly to your hearing-aids. They have created many other devices that can connect the hearing-aid to everyday objects, such as cellphones and televisions.

Siemens accessories mainly focus on connecting hearing-aids to Bluetooth enabled devices through interfaces they have designated Tek. There are different versions of the Tek device which can connect the hearing aids to cell phones, televisions, mp3 players, or even to amplify the surrounding sounds. Siemens also developed several apps that turn your smart phone into a remote control for your hearing-aids: the easyTek app, the touchControl app, and the easyPocket. Siemens offers an eCharger for use with rechargeable hearing-aids as an option to forgo the use of disposable batteries.

Rexton hearing-aids also have a remote control app for your smart phone called the Smart Pocket Remote Control, as well as a charger for their hearing-aids. They have a device similar to Phonak’s iCom that connects the hearing-aid with Bluetooth devices; it is called the Blu RCU. Rexton has developed another Mini Blu RCU that is smaller than the original, but it can connect to two Bluetooth devices at once.

SoundGate is Sonic’s version of a hearing-aid - Bluetooth connecter.  They also have an adapter for TV and the phone that works with the SoundGate.

Widex also has a remote control for your hearing-aids called the RC-DEX. Another Widex accessory, CROS uses technology to transmit sound from a completely deaf ear to the ear that has better hearing. Widex also has a FM system; their specific name for it is SCOLA.

 

My Personal Experience

            I am a student at Norwin High School. Because I am hard of hearing and have trouble hearing in school settings, I currently use Phonak’s Frequency Modulation system. I received my first FM system in third grade, it was made by Oticon. It wasn’t until the beginning of sixth grade that I had to switch from Oticon’s FM system to Phonak’s. The main reason that I had to switch brands was because I changed to a higher power Phonak hearing-aid, and it was no longer compatible with Oticon’s FM system. The Oticon FM system was producing an abnormal amount of static with the new Phonak hearing-aids. There are three parts to the Frequency Modulation system; the audio-shoe, the boots, and the FM microphone. The audio-shoes connect directly with the hearing-aid. The boots have three prongs that connect it with the audio-shoe. The microphone is worn by the teacher or other students and picks up their voice as well as some background noise. The boots, also called the receivers, connect with the microphone and receives the person’s voice, sends it through the audio-shoes directly into my hearing-aids and as a result I can hear the person more clearly. Phonak has been having trouble with their design of the audio-shoe. Since the audio-shoes are not working as they should, the FM system provides no benefit at all. As a result I have been without the FM system more than I have been able to use it in class this year. Having a hearing loss is something that you have your whole life, but can be easier to deal with if you use hearing-aids. This is why it is so important to choose a hearing-aid that provides you the optimum benefits. 

 


 

Works Cited

"Hearing Aids Comparisons Chart - HearingPlanet." HearingPlanet. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.
<http://www.hearingplanet.com/hearing-aids/comparison>.

 

Valdes, Cheryl.  Audiologist, M.S., CCC-A Personal interview. 22 Jan. 2015.
 

"Hearing Aid Accessories - Siemens Hearing Aids." Hearing Aid Accessories - Siemens Hearing Aids. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015. <https://us.hearing.siemens.com/hearing-    products/hearing-aid-accessories/>.

 

"Accessories." - Rexton. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015. 
<http://www.rexton.com/us/en/accessories/>.

 

"Sonic Hearing Aids." Sonic Hearing Aids. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.
<http://www.sonici.com/Sonic/Sonic-products/Hearing-aid-products/Sonic-hearing-aids.aspx>.

 

"Phonak Wireless Accessories." Products and Solutions. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.             <http://www.phonak.com/com/b2c/en/products/wireless-accessories.html>.


Barber, Steve. "Hearing Aid �Sticker Shock and Things to Consider When Purchasing."  N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.             <http://www.nchearingloss.org/article_costofhearingaids.htm>.

 
"Accessories." - Widex Digital Hearing Aids. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.
<http://www.widex.com/en/products/accessories/>.

 

 

 

 


Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy Dr. Bill's "Superdisk."


Dr. Bill's new iPhone "Fingerspelling Practice" app is now available!   CHECK IT OUT >


Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >


Bandwidth slow?  Check out "ASLUniversity.com" (a free mirror of Lifeprint.com -- less traffic, fast access).








You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com  ©  Dr. William Vicars
 

 


 

 

back.gif (1674 bytes)