Thinking about Hearing Aids? Have hearing problems?

Some things to consider….

For those with insurance which offers a hearing aid benefit including many Medicare Advantage plans!

The most important thing for you to consider is this: the person you’re seeing an Audiologist, preferably a Doctor of Audiology. If you go to see a Hearing Aid salesperson (sometimes advertising themself as a Hearing Aid Specialist), you may wind up getting hearing aids, but your insurance company won’t pay!  

An Audiologist is someone who has completed at least a college-level master’s degree. Further, for the past several years, the requirement for those seeking to become an Audiologist has been a Doctor of Audiology degree. State licensing for a Hearing Aid salesperson, on the other hand, is generally a requirement of a high school diploma and passing a state-sponsored test after a few months to a year of on-the-job training. 

An Audiologist provides medical evaluation in areas such as balance, tinnitus, and more not relying solely on selling hearing aids for their income while a Hearing Aid salesperson is limited to simply selling hearing aids. 

Insurance. Think about this next…

We recommend that as you’re choosing an Audiologist for your hearing care, you determine if your insurance has a hearing care (testing) benefit AND, as a lot now do, a hearing aid benefit. From there, you’ll want to know if the Audiologist PARTICIPATES directly with YOUR insurance company and their HEARING NETWORK!

It’s not enough for a provider to say, for example, “We participate with all major insurances.” Your insurance benefit, especially for hearing aids, is almost always through a totally separate (and usually independent) company (often with a totally different name from your insurance) and the Audiologist must be contracted with THEM!

In our area, very few do this because this deprives them of their ability to set their own prices on what they sell. Since the advent of these hearing networks, we’ve participated in nearly all of them because we feel that the more people who can live better lives through better hearing, the better their world will be. Sounds a bit corny we’ll admit, but it’s true – honestly!

Don’t be fooled by a run-around (“We’ll fill out all the forms….” or whatever) because that won’t assure that you’re getting the negotiated price your insurance company has agreed on with the manufacturers. Good news: most insurance companies have a very broad selection of major hearing aid manufacturers from which to select. 

And a little more…

Here’s the (very small) catch: YOU will need to make a call to your insurance company’s HEARING HEALTHCARE NETWORK to sign up for your benefits under their plan. There is no cost or obligation just to sign up. This will be a separate company from your insurance company. They’ll ask you your insurance policy information etc. and generally they prefer to make the appointment arrangements with the Audiologist. Sometimes finding who to call can be a bit difficult (it’s a benefit, after all, and if you don’t use it, they save money!) but give us a call and we’ll point you in the right direction to get started. 

Once you’re signed up with your insurance carrier’s hearing network, you’ll have an appointment set up and you can come in to see us. Bring along a spouse or friend if you’d like. Most of the time, this is very helpful, particularly as they’ll remember things that you may not (or may not hear correctly). 

We normally plan an hour for the initial appointment time by first-time patients. This will allow enough time for the Audiologist to give you an audiological examination (don’t worry: it’s quite painless!) and then talk about the results. IF (and only IF) you would benefit from a hearing aid (or two), he’ll also provide his recommendations. We’ll also talk with you about how much you’ll be expected to pay to your insurance company’s hearing network – and nearly all insurance benefit programs want your portion of the payment (if there is any) before they will order the hearing aids.

Just so you know, if you’re covered by a hearing aid benefit plan, we can’t give you prices until after you’ve had your hearing exam because until we know your hearing loss level, we don’t know if you’ll be better served by one aid or two and by what level of technology – which also considers your budget. AND IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE OFFERS in terms of hearing aid brands and THEIR prices!

It’s a bit complicated – but we’ll be right here to help!

Insurance ‘stuff’ can seem complicated: it’s something you don’t do every day. The playing field changes very, very regularly. Insurance carriers may switch to a different network, for example, so the benefits you had two years ago might be entirely different now. We’re happy to talk you through these things and answer any questions you may have. We ‘do’ insurance daily and we’ve learned how to make things as simple as possible for you.

Even if you choose not to see us (or perhaps you’re reading this from beyond the Downeast Maine area, BE SURE that the Audiologist you see is part of the Hearing Healthcare Network for your insurer! 

Signia AX named CES 2022 Innovation Awards Honorees

LYNGE, DENMARK, Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Hearing aid innovator Signia today announced that two of Signia’s latest innovations have been selected as honorees in the Consumer Electronics Show 2022 Innovation Awards.

The CES Innovation Awards program is an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in 27 consumer technology product categories.

“We are extremely proud of this recognition for two of our latest and most innovative products. At Signia our mission is to enhance human performance through iconic innovations and being named an Innovation Awards Honoree clearly shows us that we are on the right path,” says Signia’s Global CMO, Maarten Barmentlo.

Read more about the reward and Signia’s hearing aids.

The above information is provided to keep our patients abreast of new developments in hearing aid technology. Acadia Hearing Center sells and services ALL major brands of hearing aids and our recommendations are made based on what a patient NEEDS and what they WANT. Most insurance and discount programs offer a wide selection sure to meet this criteria. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

New every three years? NO WAY! (???)

 (Unless, of course, you want to….)

We’ve heard from folks who’ve come to see us, after dealing with others in our area, that they were told they need to buy new hearing aids every three years. We suspect some car dealerships would love to have you believe that as well – but do you REALLY need to change or is it just a ruse to get another sale?

Well, probably, it’s a little of both. It all depends….

A car, reaching the six or seven-year mark, may be running quite well or it may be on the verge of heading to the scrap yard after a new starter, a balky transmission, etc. It likely depends a LOT on how well you take care of the car (regular oil changes, etc.) AND how much you drive. You might think about hearing aids the same way. Do you get regular checkups from your audiologist, change the wax filters when needed, and take care of them or do you man-handle them, drop them on hard surfaces, etc.? ALSO, has your hearing changed? As we get older, it does.

Now changes in hearing shouldn’t be that great a problem. Hopefully whoever sold you your hearing aids should have considered aids that would accommodate a reasonable change in your hearing level – and on one of your regular visits, you’d have mentioned this to the Audiologist so that adjustments could be made. If, though, you’re now undergoing radical medical treatment such as cancer therapy involving ototoxic drugs, your hearing will likely change rapidly – hopefully not enough to require a change in devices(s) right away.

On the other hand, new technology is coming out day by day. Back up cameras in cars used to be highly expensive and far to ‘techie’ for the average driver. Now, particularly for those who are older, they can really help prevent ‘mistakes’ in driving. As we get older too, these conveniences can add significantly to our welfare and enjoyment of life. Can you pick up your smartphone and change the volume on your hearing aid based on your surroundings? Wouldn’t you rather do it that way more discreetly than reaching up to your ear?

So, as we said: it depends.

One other factor: all manufacturers have a limited life during which they’ll provide ‘factory’ service. Again, it’s similar to a car. The older it gets, the less likely you can find original equipment parts.

In addition, while most of the mid- and high tier hearing aids have a three year manufacturer’s warranty, it’s again like a car: once you pass that warranty period, if there’s a major problem with your hearing aid (you stepped on it and crushed it to pieces, for example), it’s probably better in the long run to replace rather than repair.

Finally, it’s great to have something that your comfortable with – as long as its working at its best. However, don’t forget to think ahead and consider the benefits of ‘moving up’ every now and then. You’ll thank yourself, I’m sure!

(Note: Our Administrator who wrote this has driven a couple of Subarus into the ground and always got the ‘base model’. However, now that he’s gotten older and they’ve got all kinds of newer safety features baked in, it’s time to change both his attitude and his vehicle. Do yourself a favor and don’t just consider time/price: it’s the quality of your life that really matters.)

Why Ear Molds?

With the invention of behind-the-ear hearing aids and what are referred to as bubble tips or domes, an entirely new generation of instruments began to evolve. No longer were you forced to endure a big hunk of plastic in the middle of your ear and no longer did you get that ‘stuffy’ feeling similar to what you experience if you cup your hand over your ear and try to talk.

For the hearing aid dispenser, these proved to be a boon as well. Now, a patient (or client, as hearing aid dealers refer to people) could be fitted with a narrow selection of plastic tip sizes. No longer was skill required to take a mold of one’s ear and hope that when it was made, it didn’t hurt. It was great – and a lot faster too!

However, what we and a number of other good audiologists soon came to realize was one size didn’t fit everyone:

  • Some people couldn’t find bubble tips that fit well or were comfortable
  • Sometimes a bubble tip would come out of the ear with possible loss of the hearing aid
  • Certain hearing losses really need to have the ear closed off to have a consistent hearing experience

As a result, ear molds made of clear, soft and comfortable material designed to hold the tip in the optimum location yet remain barely visible was developed. Our experience over several years has shown that patients have significantly better results when ear molds are used. Not everyone needs them but for those who do, it’s almost a must. Without an ear mold, you may be fiddling to keep that bubble tip in the right place.

This is something we feel strongly about. If you buy your hearing aid(s) at someplace that doesn’t even mention such things, it may be because they don’t have the technical expertise to take a good impression of your ear canal. Or, sadly, it may be because they don’t want to spend the extra time that it takes to give you the maximum benefit from your device. We do! The small additional cost of an ear mold will prove to be greatly beneficial in your future hearing – and you’ll never know how much less benefit you might have had without it.

We’ll talk more about this with you if it’s something that you should have.