The Cost of Hearing Aids, Part Three: Broke For the Summer

The Unboxing!

Welcome to part three of my series about buying new hearing aids in 2017, five years after purchasing my last pair (that cost literally thousands of dollars). As a reminder: hearing aids aren’t covered by health insurance, and I just won’t stop talking about it! Society thinks only senior citizens need them, and not only is that not true, it’s a sad take on how we value the quality of life of our eldest.

I wrote parts one and two of this series this spring while researching my options, but it took me a little longer than I planned to get my finances together to make the actual purchase. Which means there’s a bunch of good news and bad news to report, starting with payment. The good news is, I didn’t have to put any of the purchase on a credit card! The bad news is, I had to drop over $3,000 in cash, wave goodbye to that money, and try super hard not to think about how that could have been a chunk of a down payment on a house or a lifetime supply of iced coffees from Tim Horton’s.

Anyway! You may have been wondering whether I went with the less-expensive model I found, or the more pricey but heavier-duty model—and, most importantly, what color did I get? Once again, good news and bad news. The great: I was able to opt for the more expensive, better set, the Nera 2 Pro! The bad/sad: Because I bought my new hearing aids with a discount program, my color options were limited. I had to get them in boring old beige, but I’ve got some ideas on how to brighten them up— more on that later.

I got my new set almost two months ago, and I love them. I did a dramatic unboxing on Twitter, and by now I’ve lived with them long enough to verify that they hold up pretty well throughout my sweaty roller derby practices, and I can navigate the settings in focus my hearing aids on whoever I’m looking at while in crowded restaurants and spaces. I was able to get the Bluetooth add-on I wanted, meaning now I can walk all around my apartment listening to podcasts hands/cords-free, my hearing aids now serving as the most expensive pair of Bluetooth headphones I’ll ever buy. I even turned my new hearing aids off recently at a house show, essentially turning them into earplugs, because I really can’t afford to lose any MORE of my hearing. Bonus feature!

Bluetoothin’ it up.

A couple of weeks ago, something cool happened in the world of hearing aids costs, and it came in the form of a rare, tiny blip of good political news. Real-life hero Elizabeth Warren got through a bipartisan bill making hearing aids cheaper and more accessible. I’m gonna not be bitter here about the fact that I just dropped all of my money on new ones, and instead I choose to be happy for all the less-fortunate-than-me people this bill will benefit, assuming Trump signs it into order. I also learned that there are basically six big hearing aids manufacturers, and they’ve all just kinda quietly agreed to not lower prices so they can make a buttload of money off people who can’t hear. I am so pumped for this bill to take them down a notch.

Now, on to the less important, but way more fun, aspect of my new hearing aids: Design! These babies are boring-looking, and a far cry from the midnight blue pair I wanted. That said: I found this site that lets you buy tiny, teeny socks for your hearing aids, giving you a little more variety in color choice. I’m sure these sock things exist for some practical purpose, but I won’t be paying as much attention to that while buying them in six different colors. (Now I want to know who will lend me the cash to launch my new business creating custom decals for hearing aids? I’m gonna start out with some unicorn tails and poop emoji prototypes, ASAP.)

These new hearing aids cost me a total of $3,450. I had to pay for half of the cost of hearing aids when I placed my order, but I didn’t have to pay the other half until I picked them up a few weeks later. Again, without TruHearing, these would have cost twice as much. Here’s how the costs break down:

  • $1,525 x 2 installments ($3,050)
  • $250 Streamer Pro ConnectLine (Bluetooth device)
  • $75 x 2 for new ear molds ($150)

It could have been worse! Without TruHearing, I’d be screwed. Maybe with Elizabeth Warren’s new legislation, hearing aids will be more affordable for me five years from now when I need new ones.

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

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