Help with hearing aid.

orchidnickMarch 9, 2011

From age 16 to 24 I spent my summers bouncing around earth moving equipment. Lots of fun for a teenager to push a giant bulldozer around but there was no regard to safety in those days, no ear protection. As a result I've had a hearing loss ever since then.

Now, at age 70, it has become a nuisance, not a disability but a nuisance. My useless supplemental medicare plan did an audio-gram which showed 50% hearing loss in the good ear, worse in the other, I qualify for a hearing aid. No kidding, tell me something I don't know! They will pay $400 towards such a device as long as it originates from the outfit that did the audio.

They have 2 models, the deluxe which runs $2,200 for EACH ear and the regular one which is ONLY $1,900. For both ears this would cost me at least $3,400. No way!!!! I tried gaming the system but ran up against a wall this time. California makes it illegal to sell hearing aids unless ordered by an audiologist. So we have a closed room monopoly and it's time to go to Mexico or Arizona whichever comes first. The Mexican swap meet won't help this time.

On eBay they offer devices from $19 per ear to $1,200, $300 gets you a pretty decent sounding (Ehh?) device. I also know some people in Guadalajara, could send them a copy of my audio-gram and see what they come up with.

Has anybody successfully bypassed the multi thousand dollar devices and what was your experience? Anyone know of a good outfit in Mexico?


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westoh Z6


My mother got 'took for'/paid about $3500 for one about 1-2 years ago. The one thing that I would consider is that it is my understanding that they need a lot of 'tweaking' initially to get things just right (She wouldn't do this and ended up putting it in a drawer, according to her: "Things were too loud" :-) )

Will you be able to get the needed tweaking with an out of country model???


    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 7:04AM
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highjack(z6 KY)

The less expensive models do not filter out background noise and I guess that is very annoying. I really think going for cheap might be a waste of money.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 10:57AM
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Thanks, that's why I'm asking. I have no experience with these things. Since my hearing loss does not rise to the level of a disability I have no intention of spending $3,400. One can buy a lot of orchids for that.

Does anyone have a positive experience with a cheaper instrument?


    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 12:28PM
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cjwatson(Z8 FL)

Since my insignificant other has hearing loss, I've learned a bit about it from the VA. A lot of veterans of all ages have hearing loss.

First, you only have to fix one ear so you can hear on the phone, hear sirens, etc. It's not like eyesight.

Second, the cost of hearing aid depends on what type of loss you have. If you are only missing certain pitches, it can get expensive as they try to match an aid to only increase the sound in those areas. But if it is an across the board loss of hearing, then the cheaper one which merely increase volume may work well for you. Trick is to find someone who will be totally honest.

As an aside, in most areas the local council on deafness will provide a volume-control telephone for free as a loaner. We've had one for years. I don't believe that is available yet from cell phone companies, but it wouldn't hurt to ask your provider if they have one.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 10:11AM
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You are quite right, it's only necessary to fix the better ear and rely on that one after that. My loss is not even, it's a high frequency loss. I have run across units that have an adjustment for low frequency and another for high. As time goes by I'm learning more about the darn things. Once I get a good recommendation for a Mexican vendor, I'll send them the audio-gram and have them make a unit for the better ear.

If the price is right. Otherwise - Ehhh?


    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 6:00PM
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cjwatson(Z8 FL)

Nick, this is one of those things you you have to eat. Same with your vision. This is the rainy day you put that money away for.

Quality gadgets and devices are often more expensive outside of the US, whereas treatment and many drugs are usually cheaper. You may want to settle on a brand and model and then shop around here first rather than possibly end up with a cheaper (possibly counterfeit) unit which has no warranty.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 6:28PM
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I know good quality dental care is available in Tijuana for about 1/3 of our price in LA. This involves mostly hands on care. When an instrument is involved often there are no savings. Anything made in China is more expensive in Mexico as it comes to the US first, then moves on at additional expense.

If good hearing aids are manufactured in Mexico there probably can be a savings, otherwise not. The friend I mentioned earlier is going to Guadalajara today, returning March 28. She will explore the situation there and try to find me a reputable source. Paying US retail is like Jewish Hell, the last resort. I'll keep you updated but it will take time, no problem there, no one has said anything terribly important to me for a long time. I guess it's in the ears of the beholder!


    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 8:19AM
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cjwatson(Z8 FL)

I lived and worked overseas for years, and when it came to anything like a computer, a TV, an elec toothbrush, blue jeans, even books, the US was far cheaper because the countries I was in didn't have a manufacturing base and had to import, and usually their own very high import duties were added to the price. So the same $100 item here (not even on sale) would cost as much as double there -- even it if were made in China.

Part of the problem with hearing aids is that it is difficult to find an independent opinion since most seem to be hooked up with this company or that manufacturing company so there is no real competition pricewise to bring the cost down.

There has to be some sort of 'Consumer Reports' for hearing aids online where you can compare prices and quality.

(I am so happy all I have to deal with at present is single-vision eyeglasses!)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 8:45AM
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Quite right. Different factors play into the reality which is sometimes surprising. I needed a root canal and a molar crown ($2,000) in LA and got it for around $600 in TJ. When I returned there was a 3 hour lineup to get across the border. I was flabbergasted. It was about 3 weeks before Xmas and all these people were Mexicans going to San Diego to shop.

I expressed my surprise as I always tough it was Americans flooding into Mexico for cheap products but the reality has changed. Unless there is labor or work (like dental or medical) involved, many products are actually cheaper in the US if they are manufactured in the Orient as LA/Long Beach is the main entry port. From there they go to western and northern Mexico which adds freight and other charges. Mexico is planning a major container port on the northern Pacific coast but that is years away. If the stuff is produced in Mexico, like leather goods, it's much cheaper there.

Most tennis shoes are made in Korea by about 6 companies, very little competition. I noticed that in TJ they are more expensive as they go through the above process. Most medications on the other hand are dirt cheap there as the manufacturing cost is the same but in the US a huge amount is added for product liability related litigation which is almost non existing in Mexico and only a fraction of our cost in Canada.

I guess nothing ever stays the same.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 10:54AM
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cjwatson(Z8 FL)

Nick, I was kidding when I wrote Consumer Reports. But this morning and went and googled about hearing aids and came up with write-up after write-up from Consumer Reports on types, effectiveness, and excellent general information. There's too many to just link to one.

Go Google: consumer reports hearing aids

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 9:35AM
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" jeans, even books, the US was far cheaper..."

Books are a steal in the USA. It's been that way for a long time. Blue jeans are ridiculously expensive in Europe.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 9:36AM
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True, there is a lot of info on the internet. I feel however that it does not really apply to me. Take my bifocals for instance. I could not live without them, need them for the computer, the newspaper, books, driving, etc, etc. Would not have passed my driver's lic exam without them. They are an absolute must and I have a good pair. There is a Vision center in Long Beach, fairly well known, where you can get a set of bifocals for $160. All inclusive, exam, glasses and all. That's about as much as the copay and 20% of that useless insurance I have. I was hoping of finding something like that for hearing aids but it does not seem to exist.

My hearing loss is a different matter. People that know me, family and friends, know that they need to speak little louder, I know I must face them with my good ear. Radio and TV are no problem I just turn them up, since my biological rhythm calls for me to be unconscious by 10:PM, I don't think that bothers anyone. Phone also has a volume adjustment. I don't attend any important meetings. Since the average age at orchid societies hovers around 80, sound amplification is usually more than adequate.

This truly is a nuisance, nothing more, I may just do nothing or throw a few hundred dollars at a cheap sound amplifier. Let's see what turns up south of the border.


PS We actually do have a lot of young active members but certainly a good selection of silverbacks most of them hard of hearing like myself.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 1:19PM
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cjwatson(Z8 FL)

I agree, Nick. It can be a case of diminishing returns. If you can live with it without major problems, that's the way to go. Which is why I use single-vision glasses rather than pay extra for bifocals with just clear glass at the bottom. It's easier and cheaper to take them off to read, lol.

I think it is usual for local societies to have mostly older members. My society is the same.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:45AM
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