The Cost of Buying New Hearing Aids: Part Two

Photo credit: GDJ, CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to Part Two of my series about the process of buying new hearing aids! If you’re new to the series, I am a 30-year-old lady with good health insurance and yet I will be paying for these very tiny, expensive devices solely out-of-pocket, as I’ve had to do every five years since I was a teenager. Unlike dental or vision insurance, there’s no hearing insurance for ears.

As I mentioned in Part One, my current set of hearing aids is about to bite the dust, and I need to replace them before that happens. I told you I was expecting to pay between $2,500 and $4,000, and that I was going to check to see if my audiologist is a TruHearing vendor so that I could take advantage of a discount program for hearing aids.

There was so much good news and bad news at my appointment! It was a rollercoaster of emotions, so let me walk you through it.

Good news: Bluetooth is indeed more common now, as I suspected!

Bad news: It’s still expensive, and I can’t have “normal” Bluetooth capabilities like most people. My messed up ears limit me to over-the-ear hearing aids, and there are are only ideal two Bluetooth-capable models that will work well for me. Either of those two pairs will require me to buy a Bluetooth receiver thingy I’ll have to wear around my neck. The external receiver is an add-on cost of $300. (My ears won’t allow for a small, in-the-ear receiver hearing aid — I have to stick with larger, form-fitting ear molds.)

Good news: My audiologist is a TruHearing vendor!

Bad news: Hahahaha, wow, I am still going to need to find more money for this large expense, even with the big discounts.

Here is a list of prices for hearing aids, without any discounts:

That is so much money that I do not have.

The two pairs I want are both made by Oticon: the Ria 2 Pro, which costs $4,400 (per pair); and the Nera 2 Pro, which costs $5,700.

With the TruHearing program discount, the Ria 2 Pro will only be $2,310 and the Nera 2 Pro will cost $3,050. That’s a huge difference. (I’ll still need to pay $300 for the Bluetooth receiver regardless of which pair I choose.)

In Part One, I mentioned I had about $2,000 to spend. That was before my rust-bucket car decided to require some expensive repairs! Now I’ve got $1,500. I also mentioned that I planned on using CareCredit for the rest. It turns out CareCredit is only willing to loan me $500, bringing my available funds back up to $2,000.

The Ria 2 Pro with the receiver will total $2,610, meaning I’d have to scrounge up an extra six hundred bucks.

That’s bad enough as it is — but deep down, I know I want the more expensive Nera 2 Pro.

The Nera 2 Pro is considered a premium set, while the Ria 2 Pro is a step below. It sounds like the Nera 2 Pro will serve me better in my roller derby practices and they’ll provide more clarity — those, along with Bluetooth capability and less maintenance, were two big things on my wish list for a new set.

The last time I bought hearing aids, I went with the cheapest option—which ended up costing me a lot in the long run, thanks to a series of expensive repairs over the course of five years. If I’m going to be spending a ton of money, I want the best bang for my buck. This expense is for something that needs to get me through the next five years.

The thing is, the Nera 2 Pro and the receiver will cost me $3,350, and I’ve only got $2,000 toward the total cost. That extra $1,350 is going to be much harder to swing than the extra $610 for the cheaper pair. Unless something changes in the next month, I’ll have to go with the Ria 2 Pro.

I’m giving myself until the first week of April to decide — that timing lines up with a scheduled appointment to see my ear specialist back in Chicago, and my audiologist agreed it’s a good idea to pay him a visit before laying down any serious cash.

Meanwhile, I’ll be saving up as much as I can with the hopes of getting the Nera 2 Pro set. It looks like I could order them in lilac or midnight blue…

Meryl Williams is an Ohio-based writer who loves Rilo Kiley and roller derby. Sign up for her awesome TinyLetter.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.