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The RISK of Buying Used VA (Veterans Administration) Hearing Aids Online

By: Dr Cliff Olson
March 11, 2019
Video Transcript

In the United States, Military veterans with hearing loss are eligible for Free Hearing Aids and Services through the Veterans Health Administration, otherwise known as the VA.  These veterans can typically get a new set of hearing aids every 3 years.  

Recently, someone called my clinic to inquire about a pair of hearing aids that were for sale on Ebay.  The seller indicated that the hearing aids belonged their father who passed away, and that the hearing aids were in good condition.  Fortunately, they were able to obtain the serial numbers of the devices which were used to confirm that the hearing aids were dispensed to a veteran from the VA.  Even though private practices are capable of reprogramming VA hearing aids, I felt that it was a good idea to contact a VA Audiologist to find out if the sale of a VA hearing aid is allowed by the VA.  

My Minnesota VA Audiologist colleague responded with the following:  "The sale of a hearing aid that was prescribed for a veteran is frowned upon/prohibited.  If a veteran is issued a hearing aid from the VA, it should only belong to the veteran and not resold or fit to someone else.  If the veteran passes away or gets newer aids, the VA has a way for the veteran to donate it back so it may be used by another veteran.  If a hearing aid is sent to a manufacturer for repair from a non-VA clinic or under a patient name that is not tied to those devices, the manufacturer can confiscate the devices and send them back to the VA.Basically, if anything were to ever malfunction in the devices, they would be impossible to repair because if they were sent back into the manufacturer, they may never see the hearing aids again.

Buying used or new hearing aids online can be risky.  Not only for VA hearing aids, but also for hearing aids purchased from overseas vendors, stolen hearing aids, and hearing aids that were lost by the original user.  Here is my advice if you are going to buy ANY used hearing aids online.

1. Inquire about the Serial Numbers - If they refuse to give you the serial numbers, do not buy those hearing aids.

2. Verify that they are capable of actually treating your hearing loss - If you aren't sure they have the proper gain requirements to treat your loss, don't buy them.

3. Don't assume they will have a warranty - Most major manufacturers will not honor warranties on devices that were purchased through unauthorized online channels.

4. The hearing aids will NOT be programmed properly for you - Hearing aids need to be customized to your hearing loss and programmed using Real Ear Measurement.  If you don't know what Real Ear Measurement, I highly recommend you watch my video here: https://youtu.be/cHR0Oa6I-wY.

5. Don't assume that you will only spend the cost of the hearing aids - You should expect to spend several hundreds of dollars on hearing aids over the course of a year.  You will likely need Professional Hearing Aid Programming, Professional Hearing Aid Cleanings, Diagnostic Checks, Hearing Evaluations, & Follow-up Hearing Aid Adjustments.  

All of these procedures cost money whether you buy your hearing aids online or in a clinic.At the end of the day, You can save money buying used VA Hearing Aids Online, just make sure you really know what you are getting into.

Dr Cliff's Thoughts

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