If you are suffering from hearing loss there is likely to be two main things on your mind; how can I get my hearing back to normal and how much is it going to cost me?
Hearing loss affects approximately 1 in every 6 people in the UK, but a surprising number of people put off addressing their hearing loss issues because of concerns about finding the right hearing aid for them, worrying about whether it will actually work and also about the cost of buying their hearing aids. However, ignoring your hearing loss can lead to some quite serious consequences.
Untreated hearing loss has been linked with social withdrawal, depression, anxiety and diminished cognitive function which in some cases could lead to an increased likelihood of developing dementia. And these worrying possibilities aside, the earlier that you get hearing aids the more that you will get out of them, so don’t put it off. Remember hearing aids can only work if you have some hearing left.
So what should you do if you believe that you could benefit from hearing aids and what can you expect typical hearing aid costs to be?
Unfortunately, the answer to the question of hearing aid prices is along the lines of how long is a piece of string? There is a myriad of different options out there and a range of different hearing aid costs to go along with them.
£345 – £695
£495 – £895
A low budget hearing aid provides reasonable sound quality in low difficulty situations, such as talking one on one, watching television and talking on the telephone. Mainly suited to people who have quieter lifestyles. For comparison, other companies may call range their “Essentials”, “Good”, “You” or “Bronze” range.
£695 – £895
£1295 – £1395
The Basic range caters for people who lead independent lives, but who’s social activities don’t involve time in particularly noisy surroundings. For comparison, other companies might call this range their “Bronze” or “Home” range
£1,095 – £1195
£1595 – £2095
Mid-range hearing aids are a good minimum standard for people who need to hear well in most everyday situations, including social situations with light background noise. In addition, most of the latest technological advances developed by the hearing aid manufacturers are available in mid-range hearing aids and above. For comparison, mid-range hearing aids are often known as a “Silver”, “Better” or even “Friends and Family” by other companies.
£1,245 – £1395
£2295 – £2695
Hearing aids considered to be “advanced” are those that are just one technological step down from the very top. These aids provide more than enough help for most people, even those with active social lives who find themselves in complex and noisy listening environments whether in business meetings, social gatherings, outside or indoors.
For comparison, advanced range hearing aids are often known as a “Gold”, “Best” or “Social” by other companies.
£1,595 – £1695
£2895 – £3190
Designed for busy and socially active people with high hearing requirements. These aids will be fully adaptive and automatic, coping with demanding social background noise and locations with poor acoustics. These are the best hearing aids money can buy and are for people who want the very most help they can get in all hearing situations.
For comparison, premium range hearing aids are often known as a “Platinum”, “Diamond” or “Active” or “Ultimate” by other companies. However, we are pleased to say that the very first thing that you should do can be completely free – get a hearing test.
There are two main avenues that you can follow to get a free hearing test. You can either get a hearing test via the NHS or you can get one from a private audiologist. Both of these options are completely free, however, if you opt for an NHS hearing test then you will have to initially visit your GP, who after an initial assessment will then refer you onto your local audiology service who will then conduct your hearing test. Unfortunately, depending on where you live the referral and waiting times for an NHS hearing test can be extremely lengthy. Alternatively, if you contact a private audiologist such as Hearing Aid UK, you could be enjoying a free hearing test with a qualified local audiologist within a matter of days – and in many cases, the audiologist can even conduct the test in the comfort of your own home.
So, once you have had a comprehensive hearing test and it has been identified that you would benefit from hearing aids, what should you do next and what kind of hearing aid prices can you expect to pay?
There are three main routes that you can follow to get your hearing aids and each has different advantages, disadvantages and importantly different hearing aid costs. You can choose an NHS hearing aid, buy an off the shelf hearing aid or buy a hearing aid from a private audiologist (either from one of the big multi-national chains or from a specialised local independent audiologist).
Buying your hearing aids from an independent audiologist will result in you paying higher hearing aid prices than if you got your hearing aids from the NHS or from an off the shelf supplier. However, there are so many benefits that come along with paying these higher hearing aid costs that we think the choice is a complete no brainer!
However, it is worth noting that private audiologists fall into two categories; big multi-national chains such as Boots, and independent audiologists such as Hearing Aid UK. There are a number of differences between these two types of private audiologists, but the main thing to remember is that most of the big multi-national chains are actually tied to one or more specific hearing aid manufacturers, for example, Boots is actually partly owned by Phonak. Whereas independent private audiologists are just that – independent.
This means that an independent private audiologist will be able to find the exact right hearing aid for you from right across the entire spectrum of manufacturers and hearing aid types. This not only gives you more control and more choice but could also mean that you actually end up paying less for your hearing aid that if you buy from one of the big chains.
The cost of buying your hearing aid from a private audiologist can vary depending on which make and model of hearing aid you choose. In essence, hearing aid prices can be divided into three bands, which reflect the levels of performance and technology of those hearing aids. Hearing aids can be viewed as either; entry-level which has the cheapest hearing aid prices, mid-level or premium which have the highest hearing aid costs attached. Your specific needs will determine which level of hearing aid you require and then the specific cost of that aid.
It is also worth remembering that part of the cost of your private hearing aid is for the dedicated services of a qualified audiologist that comes with your hearing aids; right from your very first contact through to the years of aftercare that they provide to ensure that your hearing aid is doing exactly what it should be from day one to day who knows!
Also by choosing an independent audiologist rather than one of the big chains we will also endeavour to always make hearing aid recommendations based on which will be the right aid for you, not which will cost you the most or which is on a list of sales targets. In some cases, you may find that an entry-level hearing aid is perfectly sufficient for your needs, whereas some people may find that their whole quality of life is improved by a premium hearing aid that is packed full of the very latest technological advances and features.
Another question that we often get asked is if there is a price difference between the same make and model of hearing aid but in a different style e.g. Behind The Ear (BTE), Receiver In Canal (RIC), In The Ear / Full Shell (ITE), Invisible In the Canal (IIC) etc? Some retailers do set different prices for the different styles of hearing aids, however, at Hearing Aid UK the smallest hearing aids cost exactly the same as the largest, so you can choose your hearing aid based on its features and performance and then decide which style is right for you afterwards.
Also if you are buying your hearing aid from a private audiologist then it is worth checking what the warranty and aftercare package includes. If you buy your hearing aids from us here at Hearing Aid UK you will receive the full manufacturer’s warranty plus the cost of any aftercare for the life of your hearing aid – the only thing that you need to buy on top are the batteries (unless you opt for a rechargeable model of course!). However some other companies may charge extra for aftercare, so ensure that you determine this from the start and factor it into the overall cost of your hearing aids.
As independent private hearing aid suppliers are just that – independent – we have access to the complete range of hearing aids that are currently available. This includes everything from the premium models of the very newest ranges, to entry-level older models. One of the many reasons for choosing an independent private audiologist is that we can provide you with the very best hearing aids available that are designed specifically for your type of hearing loss, and then due to the expertise of our audiologists they can be even further tailored to your needs.
Whereas NHS hearing aids are limited by cost and so generally don’t include anything more than the most basic technology, private audiologists are able to find the exact hearing aid to suit your hearing loss, your lifestyle and environments and if necessary your budget.
Also, as previously mentioned choosing an independent audiologist rather than one of the big chains of private audiologists, means that they are, obviously, not tied to any particular hearing aid manufacturers. Some of the big multi-national chains, even though they don’t advertise this, are actually affiliated to certain manufacturers and so will push you towards these, which could cause your hearing aid costs to rise and your choices to decrease.
Also, many manufacturers are now actively promoting independent audiologists by only providing the full versions of many of their hearing aid ranges to us independents. For example, Resound has recently released their Linx 3D range of hearing aids, however, it is only through independent audiologists that you are able to access the full version of the aid with all of the available features, such as Teleaudiometry, enabled. If you were to buy the same aid from one of the big multi-nationals then you would probably end up paying more for a less advanced product.
Obviously we can’t speak for all independent private audiologists, however here at Hearing Aid UK we can confidently say that we are nearly always significantly cheaper than buying the exact same hearing aid from one of the multi-national chains. Yet you are still getting the same, or quite often a better, level of personalised individual service from a qualified local audiologist.
Firstly as a network of independent audiologists, we don’t have the large overheads of running big shops crammed with sales staff and we also save on pricey marketing campaigns. However, we also have the same level of buying power as the big chains, as we are buying on behalf of our whole nationwide network of audiologists. This means that you can get the very best choice of hearing aids, with the full level of personal service from experienced and qualified audiologists at the very best hearing aid prices.
Many people have put off the thought of using a private audiologist because they are concerned about ensuring that they are practising to the very highest professional standard. You may think that choosing a big chain will guarantee you service, however by finding your independent audiologist through Hearing Aid UK you can be assured that every one of our members is regulated by the Health and Care Professionals Council and are members of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists. We also offer a full 60-day money-back guarantee if for any reason you aren’t happy with your hearing aid – although we are sure that you will be!
Hopefully, this has given you some more of an idea of hearing aid costs and prices. Essentially you can pay anywhere from nothing at all to a couple of thousand pounds. However, as with so many things in life, it is often worth remembering that you get what you pay for. A free NHS hearing aid may be perfectly sufficient for your needs, but remember that you are sacrificing the speed of service and the dedicated and ongoing aftercare available from private audiologists. So if you want to dedicate your resources to ensure that you give your hearing the very best treatment possible then it may be worth spending a little more and seeking the advice of an independent private audiologist, such as Hearing Aid UK.
To find out more about the different hearing aid costs and prices and to discuss your hearing aid requirements further contact one of the friendly team of qualified independent audiologists at Hearing Aid UK today.
The first thing to say about NHS hearing aids is that they are completely free, which is often the reason that many people choose to get their hearing aids from the NHS. However, there are a number of other factors that can make the deal seem a little less appealing and so may be worth thinking about.
Although for all intents and purposes, NHS hearing aids are completely free. It is worth noting that the hearing aids continue to be the property of the NHS and are only on loan to you, so you may incur charges if your hearing aids are damaged due to carelessness, neglect or loss.
Obviously them being free is the main benefit to choosing an NHS hearing aid, however, it is also worth thinking about the technological standard of the hearing aid that you will be supplied with from the NHS.
Gone are the days of NHS hearing aids being incredibly basic analogue models that amplified everything from your partner’s conversation to the droning of the washing machine and were liable to let out high pitched squeals at the most embarrassing moments. NHS supplied hearing aids now feature modern digital technology, but it is at a much lower level than the specialised and personalised hearing aids that you can buy privately.
Due to budgetary constraints, the hearing aids that are supplied by the NHS tend to cost no more than about £50 for the NHS to buy, and so there are inevitable deficiencies between these and even the most entry-level hearing aids that are available privately.
Of course, for some people, an NHS hearing aid may sound like it will be perfectly sufficient, especially if you only have mild hearing loss and are less active in more complex listening environments. However many users find that even with these basic symptoms the increased levels of technology and features available with a private hearing aid really do make a positive and significant to their lives. And if you lead an independent life that is full of lots of different sonic landscapes you are likely to find that these features are absolutely vital.
Another factor in which NHS hearing aids are much more limited is that of design. These days hearing aids are available in a range of styles; everything from the classic Behind The Ear (BTE), popular Receiver In Canal (RIC), easy to use Full (ITE) or Half Shell (ITC) models and even the completely hidden Invisible In the Canal (IIC) style. Many private hearing aid companies will be able to supply your hearing aid in whichever style you most prefer and will give you the greatest listening experience – and unlike some of the others, Hearing Aid UK will supply your perfect hearing aid at exactly the same cost whichever style you choose. However, if you choose an NHS hearing aid then you are likely to be limited to either a Behind The Ear (BTE) or Receiver In Canal (RIC) style.
If you choose to get your hearing aid from the NHS then it is worth ensuring that you get them fitted and programmed as meticulously as possible during your consultation, as the NHS is unable to offer a significant aftercare programme, other than replacing dead batteries. When first using hearing aids, many people find that they need to make a number of adjustments before they are completely comfortable. Unfortunately with an NHS hearing aid you may either be unable to access follow up appointments or may be subject to long waiting times.
The other main consideration to take into account when thinking about choosing an NHS hearing aid is the waiting time. Currently, in England, the maximum waiting time between seeing your GP and getting your new hearing aid fitted is 18 weeks. In Wales the maximum should be 14 weeks, in Scotland, it is the same as in England at 18 weeks and in Northern Ireland, the longest you should have to wait is 22 weeks. Compare this to choosing a hearing aid from a private audiologist and you are unlikely to be waiting for anything more than 1 to 2 weeks, the latter only being if you choose a hearing aid style which requires a custom ear mould to be made, which can take up to 10 days to be manufactured.
If you think that getting your hearing aid from the NHS is the right option for you then, as we have said, the first step is to visit your GP and get the process started. Also, remember that you are not tied to this choice forever. If after being in, or even completely through, the process you find that an NHS hearing aid is not right for you then you can always then look to going to a private hearing aid company to supply you with a hearing aid that is able to include all of the latest sonic technology developments and will make that significant difference to your life. Obviously there will be an increase in the hearing aid price, but it may be that for you this is worth it for the increase in your hearing levels and your hearing enjoyment.
With the advent of digital hearing aid technology, there are now a number of companies who provide what is essentially a mail order service for hearing aids. These hearing aids are purported to feature a range of digital technologies and they arrive supposedly pre-programmed ready for you to just switch on and wear.
Some users may see off the shelf hearing aids as a much more affordable way to buy a hearing aid than going to a private audiologist, with some off the shelf hearing aids starting at just £99 per aid and top prices coming in at around £500 plus per aid. However, unfortunately, these lower prices come with a number of negative factors attached.
Unlike NHS hearing aids or hearing aids purchased from private audiologists which are fitted and programmed to your specific requirements, off the shelf aids only do exactly what they say on the tin. Most companies have websites upon which you can browse through their range of hearing aids before selecting the one that you think is right for you, adding it to your cart, checking out and then a few days later the hearing aids will arrive in the post and you are ready to go.
Off the shelf hearing aids are marketed as being pre-programmed to suit the most common types of mild to moderate hearing loss, especially that caused by the natural ageing process where people tend to experience more problems hearing higher frequencies than they do hearing lower-frequency sounds. Their technology is focused on simply amplifying some of these higher frequency sounds.
However, the bonus on selecting the hearing aid lies firmly with the customer, as you are not getting the services of a qualified audiologist to help identify your specific type and level of hearing loss and then find the hearing aid with the appropriate features to ensure that you get the best possible level of hearing return. You can buy an off the shelf hearing aid without even having had a hearing test, and if you have had one then it is unlikely to be of any use without the services of a qualified audiologist to interpret the results. Each to their own, however, we would liken buying an off the shelf hearing aid to buying your heart medication from an unknown overseas supplier without a prescription.
Off the shelf hearing, aid prices are lower than those purchased from private audiologists mainly because you are not having to pay for the knowledge, expertise and personal service of a qualified audiologist. You are simply purchasing your hearing aid as it has arrived from the manufacturer, without being able to get it adjusted to your individual requirements. Companies that supply off the shelf hearing aids also do not have the overhead costs of shops and sales staff to cover in the hearing aid prices that you pay. Please also note that off the shelf hearing aid manufacturers tend to only supply this type of hearing aid, you will not be able to buy an off the shelf hearing aid from any of the same manufacturers who supply the NHS or private audiologists.
Depending on the company from which you buy your off the shelf hearing aids there could be a number of costs to pay on top of the price of the hearing aid itself. Some hearing aids will come with around a 12-month manufacturer warranty, but outside of this you will have to pay for any repairs and servicing yourself and you will also have to pay for the batteries. You will also have to source and pay for any further aftercare that you will require.
Different off the shelf hearing aid companies offer varying levels of range and choice. However, in general, your choice will probably be much more limited than if you go to a private audiologist.
As we know with most online purchases, there is always a worry that your off the shelf hearing aid won’t work for you. How many times have you ordered something that looks amazing on the website only to find out that it’s not quite the same in the flesh? Inevitably this is a risk that you run when choosing to buy an off the shelf hearing aid. However most reputable companies will offer around a 30 day returns policy, where you can simply send your hearing aid back if it isn’t working out.
If you think that buying an off the shelf hearing aid could be the right option for you, then, in all honesty, we would advise that you think again. The best-case scenario is that some sounds may be amplified for you, but it is more likely that you could end up spending your money on an inferior product that could not only not really help your hearing, but in the worst case could actually damage your hearing further. If money really is a deciding factor for you then we would recommend going to the NHS rather than risking an off the shelf hearing aid. However, choosing a hearing aid from a private audiologist will always give you access to the best choice of hearing aids with the greatest levels of technological advancement and with the highest levels of personalised ongoing care.
Read Next: The Which? Report 2019
When we refer to a product as 'New', we mean that the product is new to the market.
When we refer to a product as 'Superseded', we mean that there is a newer range available which replaces and improves on this product.
When we refer to a product as an 'Older Model', we mean that it is has been superseded by at least two more recent hearing aid ranges.