Being in the consumer shoes can be a scary place to be when looking for better hearing.  It is difficult to know what to expect from hearing care providers.  This is made more difficult when the consumer doesn’t know what questions to ask.  Here are some questions to ask at your next appointment.

1. What are the Audiologist’s credentials?

Know who is going to be working with you and find out if they an Audiologist?  Educational requirements for audiologists include 6-8 years of college and thousands of clinical hours. Audiologist credentials include “MA, MS, Au.D., or Ph. D.” for Masters or Doctoral level education.   Audiologists may obtain board certification with the American Board of Audiology or Clinical Competency Certification through the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.   Audiologists specialize in many areas including adult hearing disorders, pediatrics, education, industrial testing, surgical monitoring, cochlear implants and more.

2. What brands of hearing aids are available?

Know if you’ll have a selection to choose from.  Locations that carry only one brand will be limited in their options.  Know if you are going to a corporate-owned chain or an independently owned practice.   Generally independent practices have more flexibility and work with multiple manufacturers.

3. How much time is allowed on the first visit?

You should feel comfortable with your choice of provider.  When you first visit for a consultation about your options in hearing aids you need to have time to discuss your evaluation results, talk about your lifestyle and what you expect from hearing aids, discuss the options available and different features, go over pricing and all that is included in the price and talk about the services provided with the products.  You should expect enough time to answer all of your questions.

4. Can I try on an instrument in the office?

Most locations will have to ability to demonstrate hearing products in the office to show you some of the features and benefits of hearing aids.

5. How long is the trial period and what happens if I return the hearing aids?

You can expect a minimum of 30 days in the trial period as mandated by Pennsylvania state law.  Find out if you can exchange hearing instruments if you don’t like the first ones you try.  Find out also how much your refund will be if you return your hearing aids during the trial period.  Do not be surprised if the refund is not 100%.  Often a small charge is maintained for the services provided and expenses incurred by your order.

6. What is included in the price of the hearing aid?

The price of hearing aids is often a bundled price which includes the instruments, the shipping and handling, the warranty package, the earmold impressions, the service plan for cleanings and reprogramming and the time that the audiologist spends with you at each of your appointments.

7. What types of payment options are available?
Hearing aids can be very affordable.  Financing plans may allow for no interest payments within 6 to 12 months or low-interest payments for longer than 12 months.  You may have insurance benefits that will help reduce your cost.  Ask if the facility accepts your insurance.  It is best to be prepared and call your insurance company ahead of time to check on your benefits before going to an appointment.

8. How will you ensure my satisfaction with new hearing aids?

Learning to hear again can be a challenge.  Make sure the audiologist will schedule recheck appointments while you are in your trial period.  Ask if the audiologist will take measurements of your performance to be sure that the hearing aid is a good fit and is performing well.

9.  Are there any charges while I am under warranty?

Many practices will include the cost of all your visits during your warranty.  Ask what is included and what is not.

10.  Are there classes or training sessions that I can take to learn about hearing aids?

Auditory training and rehabilitation are part of a successful adaptation period for first time hearing aid users. Though learning to hear can be challenging to new users there are many ways to reduce these difficulties.  Ask about rehabilitation programs, exercise programs for listening and other therapies offered through the office.

Learn more about being a hearing aid consumer with the following links:

Hearing Loss Association of America Purchasing a Hearing Aid.  Consumer Check List

Better Hearing Institute Your Guide to Purchasing Hearing Aids

Better Hearing Institute Request Other Guidebooks

Consumer Guide Book

American Academy of Audiology Better Communication and Hearing Aids: A Guide to Hearing Aid Use

This blog posted by Suzanne Yoder, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology and owner of HearWell Center. Please visit our website for more information