1. Select a provider who unbundles their pricing:
Most hearing aids are sold with a large mark up. Traditionally the costs of servicing hearing aids are “bundled” in with the purchase price of the hearing aids which are already expensive.
Unbundling saves you the cost of paying up front for services at an unknown price that you may not need or want.
Some common examples of patients who are hurt by bundling: Patients who move, snow birds, can no longer travel to their provider for health reasons, pass away, or lose their hearing aids.
2. Find a provider who works with your insurance:
Save money by having your hearing care provider bill your insurance for applicable services instead of paying for them out of pocket. This alone can save a few hundred dollars.
If a practice gives FREE hearing tests they can't bill insurance for that service and they will have to make up the difference by charging extra for something else. This is almost always something that isn't covered by insurance, because insurance has set fees for what they will cover.
3. Choose a provider who follows best medical practices.
Best practices are the steps and procedures that give the best results for the patient. They are what have been proven to lead to higher user satisfaction and appropriate selection and proper fitting of the hearing aids. Doing it right the first time is much cheaper than doing it wrong. For example, in 2009 Consumer Reports published an independent study finding that 2/3's of hearing aids are misfit.
We recommend the following Best Practices for hearing aids:
Thorough visual inspection of the ear. We recommend and use Video Otoscopy. A camera is used to look into the ear and the video is projected onto a screen.
A comprehensive audio including: air, bone with appropriate masking, speech recognition, word discrimination, most comfortable listening level, uncomfortable listening level, and we strongly recommend a speech in noise test as well.
Tympanometry to evaluate the middle ear system. We use state of the art Wide Band tympanometry that tests the ears at several frequencies, not just one like traditional systems use. Wide Band is more sensitive to middle ear problems. To our knowledge we are the only one in Idaho Falls who have invested in this new technology.
Hearing testing should be performed in a booth.
A pre-hearing aid questionnaire that assess your goals, needs, life situations, and expectations. We recommend and use the COAT (Characteristics of Amplification Tool)
Patient instruction on use, maintenance and troubleshooting.
Verification of the hearing aids: We prefer to use Real Ear whenever possible. To be done correctly a microphone should be placed both inside the ear and outside the ear. This allows us to tell exactly what the hearing aid is doing and if it is meeting the prescription. We will also commonly use aided speech testing, aided speech in noise testing, sound tests, and insitu-audiograms.
Validation of the hearing aids: We use the COSI Client Oriented Scale of Improvement.
Listening therapy when appropriate. We use and recommend LACE Listening And Communication Enhancement. Think of it as physical therapy for ears.
Tinnitus therapy(ringing or buzzing in the ear) and treatment incorporated into hearing aids when applicable. We are the tinnitus experts in the Idaho Falls area. We have invested in specialized equipment to diagnostically analyze tinnitus, and attend specialty training for tinnitus treatment.
Patient input and preferences should be taken into account and adjusted for. This is very important to be able to personalize the hearing solutions and meet the patients individual needs.
A follow up schedule for maintenance
Group Therapy and support options. Coming soon.