It has been reported that an estimated 17% of Americans have some form of hearing loss. Hearing loss is a particular problem in the elderly; about 50% of people above 75 years have this problem. Hearing aid is a small electronic device that can be worn in or around the ear; this device is designed to amplify the sound waves and therefore making them audible to patients with a decline in their hearing ability. Although, there have been significant technological advancements in the making of hearing aids, only 20% of patients who could benefit from hearing aid use it. This is because affordable hearing aids are hard to find. National Institutes of Health is now looking at ways to improve the communication experience and quality of life of many Americans with hearing loss.
High Price For Hearing Aids Is A Major Barrier For Families
One of the factors that make hearing aids inaccessible is their high price. Many families in-fact need to seek financial assistance for hearing aids in order to cover the cost. Cost of hearing aids is not typically covered by insurers and can cost you anything between $3,000 and $6,000. Based on a study by a German regulator, the actual device cost to its manufacturer is $250. Subsequently, it is sold to the audiologist at $1,000. Retailers then mark up the price to $2,000 to make a profit. The resulting high price tag is $3,000. This makes it difficult for individuals to purchase affordable hearing aids in the US.
One of the many patients who has faced the adversity of pricey hearing aids says: “They really should not cost more than a laptop.” The technology behind a hearing aid looks simple: a microphone to receive sound waves, a digital signal processor to filter signals that you want to hear and bounce off the rest, and a speaker. Digital signals processors are very widely used today and are not expensive.
Audiologists say that the overhead cost helps them pay for the stores that help patients with cleanings and adjustments. However, there a few start-ups, such as Audicus and Embrace Hearing that can offer you a hearing aid that costs $600. In addition, “We offer people free adjustments and reprogramming,” says Patrick Freuler, founder and chief executive office of Audicus. “Around 80 percent of people don’t need additional programming.”
Freuler says it has saved consumers $1.7 million in hearing aid costs so far.
Lions Affordable Hearing Aids Project makes people with hearing loss have better communication experience by offering assistance towards the cost of hearing aids. It has been found that nearly 23 percent of all Americans with hearing loss cannot afford hearing aids. The cost issue is starker in patients needed a pair of hearing aids; in most patients this is the case. Lions Clubs International Foundation has made such a basic need as hearing possible for thousands of people.
“I can actually hear whispering for the first time in my life. My fifth-graders can’t ‘get away’ with as much nonsense since I can hear them better,” Giesbrecht says with a smile while expressing thanks to the Lion’s Club International Foundation.
Where To Find Affordable Hearing Aids?
There are a number of non-profit organizations that offer programs to ensure individuals are able to access affordable hearing aids. These organizations provide patients with low-cost options including second hand hearing aids, free hearing tests and low-cost hearing aids.
The government also provides a range of benefits for individuals in need of hearing aids. Programs such as Medicare can be accessed in order to get free hearing aids.
Getting financial assistance for hearing aids through fundraising online can be a helpful to offset the cost if you are unable to afford hearing aids. Seeking support from family and friends can help you to quickly get hearing aids. PeoplePledge for example, is a free medical fundraising website that offers individuals living in the US the ability to create and run a fundraiser for free.
1)Hearing aids: http://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/viewfactsheet.aspx?csid=95
2)Why do hearing aids cost more than laptops?: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-06-06/why-do-hearing-aids-cost-more-than-laptops
3)Lions affordable hearing aid project: http://www.lcif.org/EN/our-impact/humanitarian-stories/affordable-hearing-aid-project.php