A common mistake when buying hearing aids is choosing from the limited selection at the nearest hearing center. Hearing aids come in a variety of styles and capabilities vary from unit to unit. Finding the perfect pair can be a daunting task, but our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best hearing aids in Detroit to narrow your search.
Benefits of hearing aids for kids, seniors and adults
Hearing aids benefit anyone who suffers from congenital or acquired hearing loss. The inability to hear clearly impacts functional, economic, social, emotional and physical well-being in children and adults.
People with hearing loss suffer greater hardships managing daily life. Children and the elderly are especially at risk. Children who suffer from hearing loss are at higher risk of failure in school. Hearing loss in the elderly can lead to social isolation, depression, reduced vocabulary, slower responses in emergencies and an increased likelihood of dementia.
The impact of untreated hearing loss is too serious to ignore, especially nowadays when hearing aids are smaller and more powerful than ever.
What types of hearing aids are available in Detroit?
There are six main types of hearing aids on the market, each with its own pros, cons and cost.
Hearing aid styles
Behind the ear (BTE)
Large or small device that settles behind the ear and amplifies sound into the ear
Improves all degrees of hearing loss; easy to handle
Most visible type of aid
$1,000 - $2,750
Same as behind the ear unit, but domed shape on receiver helps with high-frequency hearing loss
Low-cost, over the counter options; reliability; specific to high-frequency hearing loss; ease of function
Larger; less discrete; less comfortable to lay against
$900 - $2,750
Receiver in the ear (RITE)
Also known as RIC (receiver-in-canal)
Very discrete; easy to change receivers
Gets dirty easily, requires regular cleaning, more maintenance
$1,800 - $2,800
In the ear (ITE)
Can be one of two styles: full shell that fits over the outer ear or the half shell that only covers lower part of the ear
Adjustable volume control, longer battery life, easy to use and handle
Can pick up unwanted noise, be clogged by earwax, more visible than smaller models
$1,600 - $2,800
In the canal (ITC)
Sits partly in ear canal
Second-least visible style of aid; more features than CIC
Smaller battery and fewer features than most aids
$1,200 - $3,000
Completely in the canal (CIC)
Custom molded to fit in the ear canal
Small and less visible, does not pick up unwanted noise
Shorter battery life, limited features, can be clogged by earwax
$1,300 - $2,900
When shopping for a hearing aid, you’ll come across hearing amplifiers. Hearing amplifiers are not the same as hearing aids and are not designed for those with hearing loss. Hearing amplifiers, for example, are used by night owls who want to watch TV and are married to light sleepers.
How to choose a hearing aid in Detroit
The digital age has transformed hearing aids inside and out. Modern hearing aids can do more and have sleeker, smaller bodies. After you determine the type of hearing aid you need, consider the optional features you’d like it to have.
The four most important features are:
Channels that represent different settings for processing sound.
Directional microphones boost sound focus in front of the wearer and reduce background sound.
Digital noise reduction filters out unwanted noise.
Feedback management or suppression reduces the high-pitched and sometimes painful whistling caused by feedback loops.
Additional features may include:
Impulse noise reduction
Wind noise reduction
Smart technology or learning features
Direct audio input
Remote control operation
Wireless control operation
Getting a hearing aid test and fitting
Once you’ve determined the type of hearing aid and features you want, see if any local offices or online manufacturers offer risk-free trials. Since hearing aids are costly, it’s definitely worth trying them first.
Before a free trial, most hearing centers require a hearing test and evaluation. Luckily, these are usually free. You can make an appointment at your local hearing center or try your luck during walk-in hours.
During your hearing test, an audiologist will determine the type and degree of your hearing loss and let you know if you’ll need to get a written statement from your medical doctor before moving forward.
Once your test results and medical clearance are in, the audiologist will perform a hearing aid evaluation to determine the styles that will work best with your lifestyle. If you did your homework and know what you want, now’s the time to speak up.
Ask your audiologist:
What hearing aid is best for my type of hearing loss?
Which features do you recommend for my lifestyle?
What type of additional costs will I incur?
How often do these need to be checked or adjusted?
What is the cost for that?
Does this manufacturer offer a warranty?
How long will these last?
What are the maintenance requirements?
What happens if I’m not satisfied with the quality of this hearing aid?
What happens if it breaks or gets damaged down the line?
Does my insurance cover any of the cost?
Next, you’ll receive a trial hearing aid to determine if it meets your needs and is comfortable. Some companies offer comfort-only trials with non-working hearing aids while others provide functional hearing aids.
If you decide to purchase the pair you’ve tried, your audiologist will order a new pair, specifically for you. It may take a few weeks to arrive. Once it does, you’ll go in a for a fitting and to have them programmed. During this session you should be informed on operation, cleaning and care for your new hearing aids.
How much do hearing aids cost in Detroit?
Technological advancements and connectivity haven’t made hearing aids cheaper. In general, in-the-ear is more expensive than behind-the-ear, but the biggest price factors are technological capabilities and features. Prices start around $1,000 per hearing aid.
Locally, people spend between $1,200 and $3,600 on hearing aids. The average cost for hearing aids in metro Detroit is a little more than $2,000. Costco hearing aids are popular because they sell at wholesale prices and you don’t need a membership to access the in-store hearing center or for the purchase of hearing aids in Detroit.
Does Medicare cover hearing aids?
Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, but some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans cover a portion of the cost. As for private insurers, coverage for adults varies by plan and provider.
If you’re covered by Medicaid, you’re in luck. In September 2018, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reinstated Medicaid coverage for hearing aids for adults ages 21 and older.
Designed by a team of ENT surgeons, techies and industry experts, Eargo offers three invisible, comfortable and rechargeable styles and discounts to veterans. Customers agree that these hearing aids are both well designed and work great. While some users swear by how comfortable they are, others report these hearing aids are too big to be worn in-canal.
Miracle-Ear offers a line of eight devices, a smart phone app and an accessory line that includes digital remote controls, bluetooth transmitters, audio and TV streamers and chargers. Their hearing aids come with free lifetime service and a three-year warranty. Customers say these devices are excellent yet costly and some reported high-pressure sales pitches.
Zounds Hearing Aids cover the full sound spectrum up to 8,000 hertz, have built-in sound shock suppression, smart technology that automatically adjusts to your environment and noise/feedback cancellation. Their products are the result of 57 exclusive patents in audio technology. Customers say the staff at the Troy location are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
If you aren’t sure which style hearing aid is best for you, this company can point you in the right direction with their free lifestyle assessment, hearing test and fitting services. Beltone Hearing Aids offers seven devices in five styles: receiver-in-ear, behind the ear, invisible-in-canal, completely-in-canal and mic-in-helix. Online reviews say their loved ones are hearing better than ever and that the Saint Clair Shores’ staff is professional, patient and kind.
This award winning company is focused on developing devices that allow people to keep living life to the fullest. Resound Hearing Aids offers three lines and multiple styles on hearing aids. Each comes with optional features, accessories and apps to fit all lifestyles. Wearers say these hearing aids are reliable and offer quality streaming technology, but could use improvement in environmental noise reduction.
Widex Hearing Aids
Providing cutting edge audio enhancement technology since 1956, Widex offers a line of smart hearing aids that look, feel and sound spectacular. Smart app control and an assortment of accessories are also available. Widex Hearing Aids is so confident that you’ll love their device, they offer no-obligation, risk-free trials. However, customers say they require purchase through local dealers and that getting repairs can be a hassle.