Hearing aids don’t last forever. But how long should you go before replacing them with new ones? Knowing when to get a new set of hearing aids can be complicated, and basing that decision off of a strict timetable doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Even though hearing aid users, on average, tend to replace their technology every 4.4 years, that doesn’t mean that every four years you need to bite the bullet on getting a new set of hearing aids. It also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider technology before that four-year mark. So, let’s jump right in and talk about the five key factors that you need to consider when deciding whether or not to get a new set of hearing aids.
Are your current hearing aids capable of treating the hearing loss that you currently have? If you have a hearing loss, the chances of you having that exact same hearing loss forever is unlikely. And if you end up having a sudden drop in your hearing, or you have a tumor develop on one side or the other, it may prompt you to need new technology sooner rather than later, because your old technology might not be capable of treating your new type of hearing loss.
If your insurance is going to pay a large percentage of your new hearing treatment, then it makes a lot of sense to consider the new technologies that are out there. Each year, hearing aid technology gets more advanced and can help you hear better in a variety of different situations. If you’re paying into your insurance, you want to get the benefit of paying into that insurance. So, if they’re going to cover a large portion of your new hearing devices, it’s really worth taking that into consideration. I’ve even seen insurances where they pay 100% of hearing treatment every single year.
Most hearing aids come with a three-year warranty from the manufacturer, although this can range from one to three years. It will cover repair costs of those devices if they need to be sent into the manufacturer. It also has loss and damage warranty, which means if you lose your hearing devices
or you damage them to the point where you can’t have them repaired, you can get replacement devices inside of that warranty. You can extend this warranty on a year-to-year basis from the manufacturer, but they generally will limit you on how many years you can do this. Outside of that, you can go with a third-party company to extend your warranty. A company like ESCO will do this for you, but when you end up extending the warranty, this can add up in costs.
You can always go the route of choosing not to have a warranty, but this can be risky since having a repair done at a manufacturer can cost you around $300 depending on which manufacturer it is, and that’s for one hearing aid only. If you have malfunctions in two hearing aids at the same time, that can be a pretty expensive bill that you will get from your hearing care provider in order to pay for those repairs. The older a hearing aid is, the more likely that it will have repair issues. Sometimes, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take an old hearing aid and extend the warranty and pay for repairs when you can just take that money and shift it into a new set of devices.
Technology generally improves every year, and sometimes these improvements are massive. Take into consideration when Made for iPhone hearing aids came out. That dramatically improved the way the individuals could hear when they’re on the phone and how well they could hear music that they were streaming from their iPhones. And then take into consideration the Oticon Opn hearing aids that dramatically changed the way that individuals would hear in background noise. So, when there’s massive changes like this coming out, it really makes a lot of sense to switch into new technology that will get you these massive benefits.
However, it is important to understand that in order to maximize any new technology, it’s very important that your hearing care professional performs real ear measurement on the new hearing aids. Now, if you don’t know what real ear measures are and you want to learn more about it, I highly recommend that you watch my video on real ear measurements (https://appliedhearingaz.com/real-ear-measurement/).
The fifth key factor in determining when the time is right to get a new set of hearing aids is, are you still in a service plan? Many clinics still bundle the cost of their services in with their hearing aids. This means that you are pre-paying for care at that clinic for a specified period of time. For instance, if you end up buying a pair of hearing aids for $8,000, a large portion of that $8,000 is going towards the service costs. If they give you service for five years under that bundled model, it doesn’t make sense to upgrade your technology after three years, as you’ll essentially be throwing money away. Now, if you purchased your devices in a un-bundled model of care delivery, then you did not pre-pay for a ton of service and you can consider upgrading your technology even sooner without running the risk of losing any money. You definitely want to take into consideration the service cost before upgrading any hearing aid technology.
Now, I have patients with hearing aids that are 10-plus years old and they still are meeting their needs. And on the other hand, I have patients who’ve needed to change hearing aids after a year because they wanted the newer technology or needed the features of newer technology. So, there is no hard and fast rule of a timeframe on when you should be getting new hearing aids.
Just remember that it is your hearing care professional’s job to ensure that you are in the best treatment for your hearing loss needs, and this means identifying when that time is right for you to consider new technology. This is a good thing as long as they can justify that recommendation. But what you don’t want to do is just assume that they’re trying to make more money off of you by recommending new hearing treatment. Now, if you get that feeling and they can’t justify why you should need new hearing devices, then maybe you’re going to the wrong hearing care professional.
You can't determine how long hearing aids will work based on how many years you've had them. However, you can make a logical decision on when the time is right based on the following 5 KEY FACTORS:
1. Are your hearing aids capable of handling your hearing loss? - Hearing losses can change. Whether this is gradual or sudden, if you don't have a hearing aid capable of providing you will the level of amplification you need, you will need new hearing aids.
2. Will Insurance cover the cost? - Despite popular belief, more insurances are covering a portion of hearing aid costs. Some cover a significant portion of new hearing aids every few years.
3. Warranty & Repair costs - Most hearing aids come with a 1-3 year warranty. You can continue to extend the warranty, but this can get expensive. However, paying repair costs can be expensive if you are out of warranty. The last thing you want to do is pay high warranty & repair costs for old hearing aids when you could put that towards a new set.
4. Technology Improvements - Technology is continuously improving. When there is a new feature that will have a massive improvement on your ability to hear, it makes sense to consider it. When the made for iPhone technology was introduced, it dramatically improved hearing on the phone and music. When the Oticon OPN came out, it changed how well people could hear in background noise. To maximize the benefits of new technology, you need to make sure you have real ear measures performed. Watch my video of Real Ear Measures here: https://youtu.be/cHR0Oa6I-wY
5. Are you still in a service plan? - If you pre-paid for service in a "bundled" model of care, you don't want to purchase new hearing aids until you've exhausted your service plan. For instance, if you paid $8,000 for hearing aids and are promised 5 years of service, you shouldn't purchase new hearing aids sooner than 5 years. To avoid this issue, purchase your hearing aids "un-bundled" so you never over pay for service costs. There are plenty of individuals who have old hearing aids that still meet their needs.
On the other hand, there are individuals who have hearing aids for only a few years and require new ones. It is your hearing care professionals job to ensure you have the best hearing treatment that meets your needs. Don't just assume they are trying to '"make more money" off of you. However, if they do recommend new technology, it needs to make sense.