A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

One Ear or Two?

In Cochlear Implants, Deafness, Hearing Loss on February 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm

I’ve been spoiled. For most of my life I’ve been able to hear equally well with two ears. My hearing loss is about the same in both ears, and I usually wear two hearing aids. That’s why it came as a shock this week when one of my aids died and I had to function with just my left ear. I know many people have only one ear that can be aided, or have an implant in one ear, and that’s a lot better than nothing. But it’s a lot worse than having bilateral hearing.

People at work with whom I could normally converse suddenly lost their voices. One young, soft-spoken reporter talked to me for about 15 minutes. I didn’t even know she was talking to me for the longest time until I glanced up and she waved her hand back and forth to get my attention. I finally realized she was asking a question about writing style, but I couldn’t figure out what the question was. I understood her ask for a style book, so I hunted down the right book and gave it to her so she could look up the answer. I probably could have told her the answer if I had just heard the question. For the past few days, people who approached me from the right suddenly got no response and had to repeat themselves when and if I turned around and acknowledged them. A colleague who carpools with me and talks nonstop with a British accent sat on my deaf side last night, forcing me to lipread in the dark while driving. At news meetings, another colleague beat me to my preferred seat at the head of the table, forcing me to sit on the corner, with my deaf ear to most of the room.

Don’t get me wrong. I love silence, and would be happy to live in silence if people would just stop talking to me. Since that’s not going to happen, I have a choice to make. I found out this morning that the broken hearing aid would cost $450 to repair and would only be under warranty for 6 months. It’s going on 7 years old and has already been rebuilt once. I said no to the repair and instead made an appointment for next Wednesday to see about getting a new aid to replace the broken one, maybe two. I really don’t want to spend money. My last two sets of hearing aids have each cost $5,000 a pair. I don’t think they were worth that much money. My most recent pair were top-of-the-line digital aids with multiple noise-reduction options that I rarely used. My extended health insurance will pay for $1,000 per aid ($2,000 a pair). I’m hoping to get something simple and cheap. My hearing loss is really simple. All I want is to hear a sound when people’s lips move. That shouldn’t be expensive, should it?

Wordsmith

  1. You’re right. Hearing aids are way too expensive!!! Mine are eight years old and I’m hoping to get one more year out of them. Keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll hold out. I know they aren’t doing enough for me. I can’t understand why my hearing aids should cost ten times what I paid for the fully loaded laptop I bought last summer. (Yeah– I got a great deal on the laptop! :-)) Still. . . And yes– they’ve explained the limited market for hearing aids and all. Yet– the technology isn’t “new” and the aids aren’t made of diamonds or gold, just bits of wire and plastic. Someone’s getting rich off us somewhere.

  2. It is hard to hear with only one ear, no question about it.
    I am a little concerned about you driving and trying to read lips at the same time!
    Sure hope that you can get the best hearing aids at the least cost that work for you.
    Do you know how lucky you are to have any coverage at all?
    Very few of us here in the US can get ins. for hearing aids.
    Some companies will cover you if you are a child but not if you are an adult.
    There is a bill trying to get passed that will give you credit for your hearing aids, but it is really a drop in the bucket and only for those over a certain age.
    I guess if you fall in between you should just stay deaf and collect SSDI, now does that make sense?
    This is a very touchy subject with a lot of us.
    Good Luck, please let us know how you make out.
    Penny Penguin

  3. wow, dude that sounds like you got quite overcharged for your ears. I currently wear the ITE Phonak Claro bilaterally and they cost $3400 with the Watch Pilot 2. not trying to give you buyers remorse here, just letting you know before you buy another set. cheers, aaron

  4. I feel its REALLY important to know your prices, like anything else in life. Most people (audiologists) who sell hearing aids, are making a huge profit. Audiologists do not keep a list of prices on their walls because they charge different amounts to different people. The only way we are going to get these prices down is if the government makes some sort of regulations which they won’t.

    The other thing is, if more people bought the aids and complained about the molds, the fittings the sounds etc, instead of landing up in the night stand draw, we’d probably have more of an edge to protest. For me, the best thing has been to go to a local college that has a speech and hearing clinic and do not make a profit. They are interns in the speech and language department who are supervised by clinicians. So this is a good way to get hearing aids more reasonalby priced. The other solution if u don’t have a college near u that has a clinic, is to literally shop around and ask for prices. Dont be afraid to tell the audiologist that u can get a better price elsewhere and quote the price. There is definitely room for negotiating.

    Another thing is that most audiologists will only show u the hearing aids of which they have to sell to keep them alive. Most audiologists equipment (the audio booth,etc) is usually covered by a manufacturing company that the audiologist is now tied into and has to sell a certain amount of hearing aids a month for. So know your choices of hearing aids. Don’t allow the audiologist to convince you of a different aid if you know specifally what u want.

    Being educated on this matter, makes it more difficult for the audiologist to sell u on a different product. It would be great if we could get an audiologist on here to comment. Someone is making alot of money and its either the audiologist or the manufacturers.
    saytheword

  5. Can you get entry-level digital hearing aids? Do some research…many hearing aid companies make relatively inexpensive entry-level digital hearing aids. Here is a list of hearing aid companies: http://deafness.about.com/od/hearingaids/tp/Hearing-Aid-Manufacturers.htm

  6. what is entry level digital hearing aids? and wouldn’t that be something that new hearing aid users might be more prone to get?

  7. I, too, have bilateral hearing aids. I once went with one hearing aid for 3 years and I was like, miserable the whole time. So I finally bought 2 hearing aids. I couldn’t live without bilateral hearing aids. My hearing loss is pretty much equal in both ears so I NEED bilateral hearing aids in order to localize sounds better. Even though I have equal loss in both ears, they have different mhz so fitting hearing aids can be difficult for me.

    Have you checked with your Vocational Rehabilitation counselor? I got my last bilateral hearing aids from my Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. I have an audiologist at a local university, and together my audiologist and Vocational Rehabilitation counselor got me 2 hearing aids, even though normally only 1 hearing aid is given. I had to get an exemption signed by the Governor! :-) Anyway, they base the cost on your earnings. For me it was free because I earned so little. I’ve never been on SSDI. I’ve always been working. And I need hearing aids to function in the working world. See what your Vocational Counselor can do for you. It’s worth a try…

    Also, hearing aids are considered a medical cost, so if you should pay for your hearing aids out of pocket, and add those to your co-pays and other medical costs, and all of your medical expenses add up to over 7.5% of your income, you can deduct them from your taxes. But they have to be over 7.5% of your income. I know I purchased 2 hearing aids out of pocket, and I was THIS close to making it over 7.5% But no go. I slipped through the cracks. Argh. But they’re tax-deductible as part of medical expenses.

    Also, if you do work, you can save money pre=tax, if your company offers flexible spending plan, or even Health Savings Account. A good thing about the flexible spending plan or Health Savings Account is that they do cover batteries, hearing aids, ear molds, etc. Sure, insurance doesn’t cover, but the flexible spending account will cover hearing aids, batteries, ear molds. Yes, you’re paying for them out of pocket, but you’ve saved the money and the tax, so you save some money paying for the hearing aids using pre-tax savings account.

  8. I have been hearing impaired for 25 years and for the last 10 years have used the ReSound BT5.
    I have tried other hearing aids and can’t get used to the new technology. Does anyone know how I could purchase hearing aids that are no longer sold by the maker?

  9. I am actually trying to find a pair of BT5s for a customer. We do have a source that sells reconditioned aids, but they do not have any BT5 aids at the moment.

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