4 Hearing Aid Trends for 2023 and Beyond

Hearing Aid Trends

As 2022 fades into our rear view mirror and we head deeper into 2023, it’s time to look at hearing aid trends that could affect you or a loved one if you have hearing loss. Today, we’re going to take you through 4 major trends we expect to see throughout this year and perhaps even beyond.

Watch for These Hearing Aid Trends in 2023

1. Increased Talk About and Usage of Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids

In 2017, Congress passed bipartisan legislation that gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) license to create a category of over-the-counter hearing aids. Due to delays caused by the pandemic, it wasn’t until the summer of 2022 that the FDA’s rules regarding use and sale of OTC hearing aids were announced. Then, over-the-counter hearing aids began to hit retail store shelves in October of 2022. Hearing aid trends for 2023 point to OTC hearing aids becoming more popular, at least initially.

Pros of OTC hearing aids:

  • These devices, including the new Sony CRE-C10 self-fitting OTC hearing aids, are readily available to most consumers. No prescription or hearing test is required in order to purchase them so the prevailing thought is that hearing loss treatment is more accessible.
  • OTC hearing aids are priced around $700-$1,400 per set. That makes them significantly cheaper up front than prescription hearing aids that typically cost several thousands of dollars.

Cons of OTC hearing aids:

  • Current over-the-counter hearing aids are only designed for perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • Most people underestimate how great their hearing loss actually is. Without a hearing test, they may purchase OTC devices only to find that they don’t actually help them hear better.
  • Some OTC hearing aids only have a manufacturer warranty of 1 year. Therefore, patients may find themselves having to purchase another set within 1-2 years and actually spending more money than if they had gone with prescription hearing aids.

As the use of OTC hearing aids increases and their novelty wears off, time will tell whether or not these devices will help hearing loss treatment as much as lawmakers have hoped.

2. More Third Party Administration (TPA) for Hearing Aid Coverage

Insurance coverage for hearing aids has long been a hot topic, especially for individuals with Medicare. While federal Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, it does cover diagnostic hearing testing every year.

Third parties such as TruHearing, Hearing Care Solutions, and United Healthcare Hearing, however, are offering at least partial coverage for hearing aids. Some of these entities will provide actual money toward hearing aid copays. Others offer hearing aids at a discounted price. It’s worth noting, however, that these so-called discounts often limit which hearing aids are covered and what types of related services are covered as well.

The bottom line is that you need to become as familiar as possible with your insurance benefits if you have hearing loss. First, ask your hearing healthcare provider if they accept your health insurance plan. Then, verify your benefits. Don’t be afraid to ask  your audiologist to explain some of those benefits to you, especially if you don’t understand the coverage or potential discounts available.

3. A Variety of Business Models to Help Consumers Pay for Hearing Aids and Related Services

The cost of hearing aids has long been a factor that significantly impacts how and when patients can afford to purchase devices to improve their hearing. Hearing aids trends for 2023 point to hearing healthcare providers offering more payment options in an effort to increase hearing aid affordability and usability.

Here are the most common ways to pay for hearing aids:

1. Bundled service package

A bundled service package includes the cost of the hearing aids themselves along with cleaning, adjustments, and other services for the devices’ lifetime.

Pros of a bundled hearing aid service package:

  • Costs are paid up front so there are fewer bills (if any) incurred during the life of the device.
  • Patients are less likely to delay necessary adjustments or maintenance since they won’t have to pay extra for scheduling service.
  • Even though the cost of a bundled plan is more up front, patients that keep their devices for several years often end up saving money in the long term.

Cons of a bundled hearing aid service package:

  • Patients must pay a larger expense up front instead of budgeting the cost out over several months or years.
  • There may be additional costs incurred if the hearing aids need to be returned to the manufacturer for repairs after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

2. Limited time service

Some hearing aid providers offer services based strictly on the manufacturer’s warranty period. For example, if the manufacturer has a warranty for one year, services such as hearing aid cleaning and adjustments may be covered only during this period.

This may be sufficient for hearing aid users who change out their devices frequently or every couple of years. For those who really love their hearing aids and want to keep them for the device’s full lifetime, they may risk not having some services covered with this type of plan.

3. Unbundled hearing aid service

Some hearing health providers offer hearing aid purchase and maintenance a la carte, meaning that the cost for each is handled and paid separately.

Pros of unbundled hearing aid service:

  • Patients save money up front because they are not pre-paying for service.
  • Costs for hearing aid services are spread out.
  • Long time hearing aid users may save money if they already know how to handle some common hearing aid problems themselves.
  • Hearing aid wearers who frequently travel or have multiple homes have the freedom to go to multiple providers for service.

Cons of unbundled hearing aid service:

  • New hearing aid users need to be seen more frequently in the early stages of hearing aid use. They may not save money and may even spend more than they would with a bundled service plan.
  • Individuals who are not tech savvy may not be able to figure out hearing aid problems on their own. They may delay necessary service in an effort to save money but their hearing could suffer.

4. Leasing hearing aids

While this option has been around for a while, it’s one of the hearing aid trends that we expect to see increase in popularity this year. Hearing aid leasing is just what it sounds like – making monthly payments over a set time period to pay for hearing aids. At the end of the lease term (typically 3-4 years), patients have the choice of buying out the lease or trading the devices in for a newer model.

Pros of leasing hearing aids:

  • Patients do not have to come up with a large sum of money up front in order to start using hearing aids.
  • Monthly payments may be easier for individuals with a set income (such as retirees) or those who prefer the predictability of the monthly cost.
  • This is a great option for people who like to trade in their hearing aids frequently in order to have the latest and greatest technology.

Cons of leasing hearing aids:

  • Depending on how long the lease term is, the manufacturer’s loss and damage warranty may run out before the lease is up.
  • Similar to leasing a car, this option costs more money over the long term.

4. Increased Popularity of Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Most hearing aid wearers are used to putting their devices in their ears at the beginning of the day and then removing them at bedtime. One of the hearing aid trends we see increasing for 2023, however, is the use of extended wear hearing aids such as the FDA-approved Lyric devices.

Implanted in the ear canal, these hearing aids stay in all the time – while you’re sleeping, showering, etc. They are implanted by a qualified professional and then changed out approximately every two months.

Pros of extended wear hearing aids:

  • These devices are a great option for people who are concerned about the look of hearing aids as they are very small and hidden within the ear canal.
  • Since they don’t have to be removed multiple times daily, individuals with fine motor challenges may find extended wear hearing aids helpful.

Cons of extended wear hearing aids:

  • This is not the most cost effective hearing loss treatment method.
  • These devices do not come with Bluetooth or ear to ear communication capabilities.

Looking At Current Hearing Aid Trends and Beyond

The bottom line is that many of the hearing aid options mentioned above have been available to consumers for quite some time. We expect to see each of these hearing aid trends to increase in 2023, however, along with an increased focus on giving patients more control over their hearing healthcare.

At Advanced Hearing Group, our mission is to provide a wide variety of top quality hearing healthcare services so that individuals with hearing loss can hear better and live life to the fullest. From custom hearing protection and high quality hearing aids to hearing tests, professional earwax removal, and more, we invite you to schedule an appointment at our Mesa or Scottsdale locations to learn more today!

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