Lots going on the past few weeks on the Hearing Front!  Saw that the USA Today is running an article on Hearing Aids today.  Here’s the link:  yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2012-03-16/Hearing-aids-revolutionized-by-sound-advances-in-technology/53571198/1

Also received an email yesterday from HLAA National on the latest program being implemented by United Health Care Insurance via their new partnership with EPIC.  As some of you may remember, AARP was contracting with Hears USA to provide hearing aids (along with the AARP insurance) for their clients.  Hears USA declared bankruptcy last year.  Thus, all of the people that bought the additional insurance were left high and dry when it came to being able to get hearing aids or service via Hears USA.

For those of you interested, here’s the link to the newest affiliation.  And yes, there is a lot of controversy on it with the Audi camps not liking it at all.  Link:  epichearing.com/

I’ve not had a lot of time to research all of this yet.  HLAA is remaining neutral on the new development, but keep in mind that they are also one of AARP’s partners.  A few years ago, I did a series of articles on the America Hears hearing aid.  This is the company that sends you the software so that you are able to program your own HA’s via your computer.  They also provide support via the phone or email.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these would work for me if I didn’t need the FM system that I have now.  If you would like to read my findings, here’s the link:  www.americahears.com/ah_about_testimonials.html  And yes, I did return them to the company after wearing them for 2 weeks in order to continue to declare myself free of alliances (getting freebies) just because I write this column.

I would be interested in hearing from readers that have decided to go down this path when it comes to getting a hearing aid.  As of now, I have not been able to find any type of survey or information on how this is working out for those that have decided to have a more hands on approach to programming their HA’s.

We all know that there are a few trips involved to the Audi’s office after you get fitted with your HA’s to iron out the programming issues.  I still think that the programming is key to whether or not the consumer will continue to wear their HA’s.  Unfortunately, you still have HA programmers not listening to their patients and trying to ‘follow the book’ when it comes to programming a HA.   While the Audi’s are definitely not happy with this turn of events, the pricing difference will more than likely cause them to miss out on some clients.  If there is legislation involved at the State Levels, get ready for a battle.  When you look at the average price for a HA via an audiologists’ office (in my case, around $3700 each) and then compare that to the average price from America Hears or EPIC ($600 each), there is bound to be quite a few people that are competent on their home computers that will opt to save a lot of money in order to join the ‘Hearing World’. 

At this point, I’m on both sides of the fence on this issue.  If it will enable consumers to purchase HA’s so that they can improve their hearing, then, I say, go for it!

Have a great week!

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