How long does a hearing evaluation take?
A routine adult evaluation usually takes about 45 minutes. An evaluation for a child usually takes about half an hour.
Does health insurance pay for hearing tests?
Yes, usually. It is always a good idea to check your policy before assuming coverage. We accept many major health insurance plans, including Medicare and VT Medicaid.
How do you test a baby or young child?
Under six months of age, we evaluate an infant’s hearing using Distortion Product OtoAcoustic Emission (DPOAE) testing. This type of testing does not require a response from the baby, and the best results are obtained when the baby is sleeping. From six months to approximately 3 years, we use Visual Reinforced Audiometry (VRA). During VRA testing the child is seated on the parent’s lap in the sound booth. The child is conditioned to look at puppets when they hear either speech or noise.
Is there anything I should do to prepare my child for a hearing test?
If your child is under six months old, please bring in your child either sleeping, or when they would normally sleep. We’ll get the best test results if we can test your baby while he or she is asleep.
Over six months of age, please bring your child awake, alert, and not hungry or tired! Please avoid regular naptimes or mealtimes.
Can someone else come with me and my child to a hearing test?
We can accommodate family members, but only one adult can go into the sound booth with the child or baby being tested. If you must bring other children with you to your child’s appointment, please bring another adult to stay with them while you and your child are having the hearing test.
How much do hearing aids cost?
A single hearing aid can cost anywhere from $400 to $2300. That covers the actual hearing aid. You will also need to have that hearing aid programmed and fit for your hearing loss and your lifestyle needs. You can also elect to pay for 5 years of service with your hearing aid purchase, or you can pay for your service as you go. All in all, the total cost for a pair of hearing aids can run from $2500 to $6000 with service included, or $1300 to $5000 if you'd prefer to pay for your service as needed.
What makes a hearing aid cost so much?
There are huge research and development costs, a relatively low volume of sales when compared to other electronic devices, and almost no third party (health insurance) coverage. Also keep in mind that when you are purchasing a hearing aid you are not just buying the instrument itself, you are usually buying two instruments! And you need to pay to have those devices fit to your hearing loss and your lifestyle needs. You can also elect to pre-pay for 5 years of service with our "No Worries" plan. This allows unlimited service and supplies (except for batteries) for 5 years. You can save some money on the front end by electing to pay for your services as you go. In the end, we expect that you'll end up paying a little bit more over time, but it makes the up front cost easier!
Will I need one or two hearing aids?
Typically, if your hearing is similar in both ears, two aids will be recommended. Multiple well-researched studies have shown significant hearing benefit when people use two hearing aids, particularly when listening in background noise and in localizing sounds. There are some situations where only one hearing aid is recommended, usually because there is hearing loss in only one ear, or if one ear is so poor that it won't benefit from a hearing aid.
What’s the difference between a cheap hearing aid and an expensive hearing aid?
These days, the difference in price in hearing aids is dictated by the computer chip running the aid, not by the size of the aid. Like cellular phones, you can get a relatively basic model or an extremely advanced model. Basic hearing aids are excellent at amplifying sounds that are needed but can only make a few changes to the sound in noisy environments. Premium hearing aids can tell the difference between speech and other environmental sounds and have features built into them to help your brain receive the clearest signal from your ears.
What does “unbundled” mean?
Traditionally, people who purchase hearing aids are also purchasing the fitting of those hearing aids, and the maintenance of them for a set period of time, which could be anything from a year to the lifetime of the hearing aid. The industry is now moving toward a more transparent model, meaning that the services are not included in the cost of the devices, and you can pay for them as you need them. There are pros and cons to both methods. Here at BHC, we provide both options, which we've called our "No Worries" plan and our "Nickel and Dime" plan. With our No Worries plan, 5 years of service and maintenance is included with the purchase of your hearing aid(s). This includes supplies (except batteries), cleanings, adjustments, in-house repairs, etc. With the Nickel and Dime plan, you save money up front, but whenever we handle your hearing aids, we'll charge you to do so. We expect that for the average user, you'll end up spending a little more with the Nickel and Dime plan, but you'll get to spread it out over time. If you're an experienced hearing aid user and know how much service you'll need, or if you spend 6 months a year in warmer climes, the Nickel and Dime plan may be perfect for you! Does this sound confusing? Check out our infographic!
Do hearing aids need batteries?
All hearing aids need batteries in some form or another for power. Many manufacturers offer a rechargeable option. Some manufacturers use an encased battery that you as the consumer don't have access to, and others use an accessible battery than can be swapped out for disposable batteries if needed. You can discuss with your audiologist whether or not rechargeable is right for you. In most cases, rechargeability isn't a money saver. Aids that are rechargeable cost a bit more, and if you look at the cost of disposable batteries over the lifetime of the hearing aid, there's not a large price difference between the two.
Can I try a hearing aid before I buy it?
Depending on your loss, we may have demo units for you to try in the office. In addition, the state of Vermont has a 45-day trial period on all hearing aids, so you may return hearing aids that have been ordered for you during the first 45 days of use.
How do I pick a hearing aid?
Many factors go into choosing a hearing aid, including degree and shape of hearing loss, dexterity/handling issues, lifestyle, and budget. You and your audiologist will discuss your particular needs and decide the best course of treatment for your hearing loss.
How long does a hearing aid last?
Five to seven years, with regular maintenance and an occasional repair.
Can hearing aids be adjusted if my hearing changes?
Yes! If you are concerned that your hearing has changed, we can retest you and then update your hearing aids if necessary.
Will my health insurance pay for my hearing aids?
Not typically. There are some plans that offer hearing aid coverage, so it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider. We can bill some insurance carriers directly. For other, you may have to seek reimbursement after the fact.
Why does it seem like everyone is mumbling?
One of the most common configurations of hearing loss is loss of acuity in the higher pitched sounds. This can make speech sound a bit muddy, as those higher pitched speech sounds drop out of people’s words. For people with this configuration of hearing loss, the volume of people’s voices sounds fine, but it’s difficult to make out the words. Hearing aids can often help restore those higher pitched sounds, making people’s words sound crisper and clearer.
How should I clean wax out of my ears?
You shouldn’t! Your ear is a self-cleaning mechanism. If there is wax that is reachable with your fingers, you should be able to wipe that away. If wax is any deeper than that, it will work its way out on its own. Putting a q-tip in your ear will typically just push any wax that is there further back, where it will have a hard time working its way out naturally. Occasionally, people will get a build-up of wax in the ear that requires more intervention. This is best done by a medical professional.
Should I wear earplugs when I’m mowing the lawn?
Yes! Machinery like lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers are loud enough to damage your hearing. A good rule of thumb is if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone when the machine is on, it’s too loud for your ears and you should be protecting your hearing.
Even with my hearing aids on, I sometimes can’t hear the person who is talking to me. Why is that?
Even the best hearing aids in the world can’t restore normal hearing. Sometimes, you need to use some communication strategies to get the most out of your hearing aids.
Some easy tips:
Make sure you can see the person who is talking to you. Even if you’re not trying to read lips, your brain is using visual information to supplement what you are hearing. Ask your loved ones to get your attention before they start talking to you – that way they’ll have your undivided attention before they start to say something important. Avoid places that are very noisy. If you are going to the hottest restaurant in town, go at 5 o’clock on a Sunday rather than 7 o’clock on a Friday. Ask people to slow down their speech rather than talk louder to you. It gives your brain a little time to catch up as you’re figuring out the sounds.