What you need to know about costs, financing options and more.
There’s no way around it: Hearing aids are expensive. So much so that the less than 20% of Americans who could benefit from them actually have one, according to the FDA. If it’s the immediate cost that’s keeping you from buying a hearing aid, you might want to look into your financing options. Personal loans and other options can make payments more manageable and get you your hearing aid as soon as possible.
Can I pay for a hearing aid with a personal loan?
Yes. In fact, paying for medical expenses not fully covered by insurance — such as the cost of medical devices like hearing aids — is a common reason people take out personal loans. But it’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider first. While it’s rare to get hearing aid coverage, some healthcare providers could cover more than half — or all — of your hearing aid cost.
If you’re partially covered or are looking for a hearing aid on the lower end of the price range — around $1,000, you might want to consider other financing options first. That’s because many personal loan providers require you to borrow at least $2,000 to $5,000 and it’s generally not a good idea to borrow more than you need — you’ll end up paying more than necessary in interest and fees.
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How much do hearing aids cost?
Getting a hearing aid typically costs between $1,500 to $4,000 per ear. The average cost of a hearing aid is more than $2,300. Most people need two, however, and can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 and $8,000. On top of this, most hearing aids last between two to three years before needing to be replaced.
Part of the reason these are so expensive is because the device is often bundled with professional services like a hearing test, fitting, follow up, adjustments, cleanings and more. It typically includes batteries (between $8 and $32 per pack) and a warranty that covers loss or damage for a few years.
One way to avoid paying for all these services is by buying an inexpensive device directly from a retailer. However, it can be difficult to control the volume on cheaper models, something that can actually damage your hearing even more. And without the right tests, you might need to have it refitted at an audiologist, which can make it just as expensive as buying the traditional way.
You can find these hearing aids at stores like Costco for between $500 and $1,500, which includes a free screening at the store. You can also buy them online for as little as $150, though you won’t get a screening or fitting.
Will my insurance cover a hearing aid?
Maybe, but probably not the entire cost. Most insurers don’t cover the cost of hearing aids, although some do.
While the 1965 Medicare law doesn’t allow hearing aid coverage, you can get coverage if you have a Medicare Advantage health plan through TruHearing. Depending on your plan, you can have the price of a device reduced as much as 60% or pay as little as $699 per hearing aid. Medicaid does offer hearing aid coverage, but only in some states.
If you’re a Federal employee, you’re in luck: You can get hearing aid coverage through your healthcare plans, sometimes enough to cover the entire cost.
Other insurance providers like Aetna offer discounts from the manufacturer. Residents of New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Arkansas might have an easier time getting coverage. These states require private insurers to cover hearing aids if you’re an adult, though it probably won’t cover the full cost.
How else can I pay for a hearing aid?
Taking out a personal loan isn’t the only way you can pay for a hearing aid. Your other financing options include:
- Medical flexible spending accounts (FSA) or health care spending accounts (HSA). An FSA through your employer allows you to save money you earn without paying taxes to cover medical expenses. You could use this money to cover hearing aid costs.
- Credit cards. If you need a small amount of money for your hearing aid, you might not need to take out a personal loan. Generally personal loans have a minimum lending amount of $2,000. It might make more sense to put it on a credit card. Especially if you have excellent credit and were considering getting a new credit card anyway, consider applying for a new credit card with a 0% introductory APR to avoid paying interest.
- Veteran benefits. You can get a hearing aid device through the VA if your hearing loss is directly related to your service or has a severe effect on your daily life.
- Nonprofits. Organizations like SHARP and HEAR Now provide financial assistance for low-income individuals.
- Friends and family. If you don’t need enough funds to qualify for a loan, asking friends or family might be the best way to go. You won’t have to fill out a lot of paperwork and might not have to pay interest.
PSAPs: What you need to knowYou might have heard of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) as an alternative to hearing aids. They’re a lot less expensive with prices ranging from $70 to $700 and easier to buy — you can get them at your local drugstore or buy them online without having to visit the doctor. But they can be riskier.
The FDA treats PSAPs as devices that aren’t intended for hearing impaired customers and doesn’t have nearly as strict regulations. As a result, it’s hit-or-miss. A Johns Hopkins audiologist ran tests on several devices and found some were nearly as good as hearing aids (Soundhawk, CS50+ and Bean T-Coil) while others actually made it more difficult to hear. Do your research if you’re dead set on getting one of these.
Four quick tips for buying a hearing aid
- Check with your insurance first. Call your insurance provider and ask if hearing aids are covered or if it offers discounts.
- Ask your audiologist. Different devices are good for different hearing challenges. Make sure to be specific about what types of sound or situations pose the most problems for you when you visit your audiologist so you get a device that’s worth the money.
- Negotiate. Ask your audiologist to break down your hearing aid costs and see if there’s any room for negotiation — or if you can avoid paying for unnecessary services.
- Shop around. Once you know what type of device you need, check out all of your options before you decide on one. Read reviews and studies of different devices to make sure the one you buy is worth it.
Hearing aids are expensive and not always covered by insurance. But it could be worth looking into your financing options if you think getting a hearing aid could significantly improve your life. Looking at your personal loan options is a viable way to get started covering the costs if insurance won’t fully cover it.