FIRST, GET A HEARING EXAM FROM A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL:

Hearing Loss can be caused by lots of different conditions. It is important to have your ears checked for wax in the canals, fluid in the middle ear or more serious conditions. Many individuals wearing hearing aids have sensor neural hearing loss (nerve deafness), the most common cause of progressive hearing loss. A hearing aid will not cure hearing loss, but, a hearing aid can help you hear better. The exam will usually be covered by your insurance and can be performed by an Ear Nose & Throat Physician (Otolaryngologist) or an audiologist. Audiologists are highly educated and trained health care professionals qualified to do a thorough evaluation of your hearing. In addition, audiologists are experts with other types of assistive listening devices (ALDs) including individual and group listening systems, telecommunication devices and personal alerting equipment. Some audiologists also work for companies that dispense hearing aids. To find a licensed Audiologist in your community, visit the Washington State Academy of Audiology at www.washingtonaudiology.org/find-audiologist-in-your-area.

SECOND, SELECT A DISPENSER:

The term dispenser applies to ear specialists, audiologists, and hearing aid specialists who fit and sell hearing aids. They should spend time to help you find the right hearing aid, and schedule several visits to work with you for adjustments and in teaching you how to use and maintain your hearing aid. They should be available to provide warranty or out-of-warranty service for the life of the aid.

  • Find out what program they have in place to teach you to use the aid and to communicate most effectively.
  • Make sure the dispenser gives at least a 30-day trial period. This gives you time to “test drive” the aid, just as you would when buying a new car.
  • Check, beforehand, which fees are nonrefundable should you need to return the aid. Typically, costs for testing, custom-fit parts, and/or ear molds, are nonrefundable.
  • Does the dispenser provide repair services? Is a loaner available should your aid need repair?
  • Select a dispenser who offers different types and makes of hearing aids – behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and in-the canal styles.
  • Don’t be pressured into purchasing an aid. Seek a second opinion if you want more information or want to compare prices.

THIRD, SELECT YOUR HEARING AID!

There is no “best” hearing aid. The selection of a hearing aid depends on your degree of hearing loss, listening needs, dexterity, your financial situation and your personal life circumstances including the environment in which the hearing aid will be used. Ask about various options available in the hearing aid, such as a Telecoil. For a small, additional cost, the Telecoil enhances telephone use and allows you to use assistive listening systems in theaters, meetings, etc.

Hearing aids vary greatly in cost; a conventional hearing aid may cost $400 and can increase in price up to $4500 each for a digital hearing aid. Understand pricing. Some dispensers bill separately for testing, the hearing aids, and other services. Most quote one price that includes many services as well as the aids. Until you know which aid you will need, you won’t be able to know the complete price.

When you purchase your hearing aid, be sure to get a purchase agreement or contract containing all terms of the transaction in writing. Is there a written warranty? Is the warranty honored by the manufacturer, the dispenser, or both?
When making your selection – remember: Do not rush into buying a hearing aid. Spend time researching this major purchase, just as you would a car.

  • Most hearing aids are programmed, so the skill of your provider is an essential factor in determining your satisfaction. Ask which speech processing strategy is best for you, rather than which hearing aid is best.

  • Programmable aids can be customized to fit your needs and there are a wide range of features to consider, such as directional microphones, telecoil, direct audio input and remote control.
  • Know your rights about a trial period as you adjust to an aid.
  • Ask the audiologist about the possibility of trying one hearing aid for a while and then trying another one out for a while to compare.
  • Bring appropriate expectations: hearing aids may help you cope more effectively in communication, but they will not restore normal hearing.
  • Be aware that hearing aids do not work well in all situations.
  • Assistive listening devices, such as FM, infrared and loop systems, used in conjunction with hearing aids, improve hearing aid effectiveness in difficult listening situations, such as noisy restaurants.
  • Purchasing a hearing aid by mail or telephone is not recommended as it will be hard to fit the right hearing aid for your needs

After you buy your hearing aids:

  • Use them right away and go back to the dealer if they do not work as well as anticipated
  • Ask the vendor for advice on adjusting to your hearing aids and how you can learn to use them most effectively (sometimes called aural rehabilitation).
  • Be aware that it may take a while for the brain to adjust to a hearing aid, so you can’t always determine right away if you will like it.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for maintenance & battery replacement
  • Before your manufacturer’s warranty runs out, arrange for coverage for loss or damage through your homeowners or renters policy or through insurers who specialize in hearing aids. For example:

RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO HEARING AIDS IN WASHINGTON STATE

Under Washington law, when you purchase hearing aids, you have the right to return them for reasonable cause. You must act within 30 days (known as the rescission period).

Reasonable cause means:

  • Material misstatements regarding the hearing aids(s) or fitting services which the purchaser relied on or when buying the hearing aids.

  • Failure to provide the hearing aid(s) and fitting and dispensing services specified in the purchase agreements
  • Diagnosis of a medical condition unknown to the purchaser at the time of purchase, which precludes the purchaser from using the hearing aids
  • Failure to remedy a defect in the hearing aids within a reasonable period of time
  • Failure to follow acceptable industry practices or standards of conduct.

Reasonable cause does not include cosmetic concerns or a mere change of mind.
To rescind — notify the seller in writing that you are rescinding the agreement for reasonable cause pursuant to RCW 18.35.185(1). Deliver the written notice to the seller at the seller’s business address or send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the seller’s business address. The hearing aids must be returned, in original condition, except for normal wear and tear to the seller. You must do this by midnight of the thirtieth day after delivery of the hearing aids.
The seller must refund all deposits, including any down payment minus either $150 or fifteen percent of the total purchase price, whichever is less any goods (hearing aids) that you traded in. The seller also may deduct any costs incurred in making traded-in goods ready for resale.
Extension of Rescission Period: If you notify the seller within 30 days, that your hearing aid has a problem that constitutes reasonable cause to rescind the agreement or that prevents you from evaluating it, the seller must extend the rescission period. The rescission period stops running on the date you notify the seller of the problem and starts running again on the date the seller notifies you that your hearing aid is ready for redelivery. You and the seller may agree to a rescission period longer than thirty days. Whenever the rescission period is extended, the seller must provide you written notice of the last date upon which you may demand a refund and return of traded goods.