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A Comprehensive 2020 Review and Prices
by Jeremy Hillpot
As a hearing aid company, TruHearing alleviates some of the cost barriers that deter hearing loss patients from getting the treatment they need. However, TruHearing is not a hearing aid manufacturer. It’s a managed care provider that works with insurance companies and hearing aid manufacturers (like Widex, Oticon, ReSound, Signia, Starkey, and Phonak) to offer more affordable treatment options to consumers.
With prices ranging between $1,390 and $4,500 per pair, TruHearing hearing aids are more affordable than average (at $4,600 per pair). But considering the similarly-priced and less expensive options available at Costco and MDHearingAid, the question remains: How does TruHearing measure up to the competition?
In this article, we’ll take a close look at TruHearing to help you understand the following:
- The Background and History of TruHearing
- The Purchase Process at TruHearing
- TruHearing Pricing Options
- The Technology Features and Hearing Aid Brands Available at TruHearing
- What Do Customers Say About TruHearing?
Background and History of TruHearing
TruHearing launched in 2003 to solve “the high cost of hearing aids” problem. However, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, TruHearing now falls under the corporate ownership of one of the largest hearing aid conglomerates in the world, WS Audiology – which owns the following hearing aid giants:
- Sivantos Group
As an arm of WS Audiology, TruHearing works to get WS Audiology hearing aid brands into the hands of consumers at a slightly lower price point. The company does this by purchasing hearing aids in bulk from the manufacturers, then working with major health insurance companies and audiology clinics to resell them to consumers.
Has TruHearing solved the “expensive hearing aids” problem? Not really.
Essentially, TruHearing is a middleman between you, your healthcare provider, your insurance company, and the hearing aid companies owned by WS Audiology. In this respect, TruHearing offers a layer of price control to prevent “unreasonable” markups by audiologists. The resulting lower prices serve to benefit consumers, insurance companies, and WS Audiology-owned hearing aid manufacturers.
Nevertheless, TruHearing doesn’t really attack the source of expensive hearing aids: The manufacturer. Also, some customers have complained that TruHearing-affiliated audiology clinics and hearing aid specialists do not offer the same level of medical service that more expensive clinics provide.
The Purchase Process at TruHearing
From the customer perspective, the process of getting your hearing aids from TruHearing is straightforward and simple:
- Schedule an appointment: Call TruHearing and schedule an appointment with a local, TruHearing-affiliated health care provider (either an audiologist or hearing aid specialist).
- In-person examination: Receive an examination, diagnosis, and hearing aid prescription from the health provider. The hearing aid brand will probably be Widex, Oticon, ReSound, Signia, Starkey, or Phonak. You’ll have some say in the selection process.
- Order and pickup: The hearing health care provider orders the hearing aids from TruHearing, and you pick them up several days later.
- Finetuning and adjustments: The hearing health care provider finetunes your hearing aids as needed for your condition.
- Insurance: TruHearing takes care of the insurance paperwork.
TruHearing Pricing Options
If you plan to visit an audiologist or hearing aid specialist, working through TruHearing and its network of 5,000 clinics could save you money. However, your savings will depend on your insurance benefits and the level of hearing technology you prefer.
- TruHearing Choice (Lowest Tech Option): Under the TruHearing Choice plan, you can choose from three levels of digital hearing aid tech (Standard, Advanced, and Premium) with hearing aids costing from $695 to $2,250 per hearing aid. TruHearing says that patients can save an average of $980 (or 30% to 60% off retail prices) with the TruHearing Choice plan.
- TruHearing Select (Highest Tech Option): The TruHearing Select plan is available through certain health insurance providers. TruHearing Select customers can pay a set copayment amount depending on their insurance plan. Under the plan, you can select between two technology levels (Advanced and Premium). The Advanced level starts at $1,195 per hearing aid. The Premium level starts at $1,495 per hearing aid.
Every TruHearing Choice and Select purchase includes the following additional benefits:
- 45-day money-back trial period
- 3-year protection policy in case of damage, defects, and loss
- 48 replacement batteries for every hearing aid
- Battery orders at a cost of $39 per 120
- 3 consultation visits for finetuning, fitting, and questions
Technology Features and Hearing Aid Brands Available Through TruHearing
The TruHearing product catalog includes hearing aids from well-known manufacturers like Signia, Starkey, Widex, Oticon, Phonak, and ReSound. These are the same hearing aid brands you’ll find in audiology clinics around the world. Hearing aid selections include all styles – from discrete behind-the-ear (BTE) varieties to invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) varieties.
As for tech features, TruHearing organizes their hearing aid offerings into three tech categories:
- Standard TruHearing Hearing Aids:
“Standard” is the least expensive price level, which includes basic digital hearing aid technology that works well for everyday situations at work and at home. At a minimum, these hearing aids include directional microphones, three listening settings for different environments, and feedback control.
ReSound Enya 2 is one of TruHearing’s standard hearing aids. At a price point of $695 per hearing aid, ReSound Enya 2 includes the minimum features you’ll need, such as Digital Feedback Suppression (DFS) and directional microphones. It also has the ReSound smartphone app for easy finetuning at home.
- Advanced TruHearing Hearing Aids:
“Advanced” is the next price level up, which includes more advanced digital hearing aid technology to help with hearing in restaurants and group conversational environments. These include speech-isolating, background noise filters – and they can automatically adjust their settings based on the listening situation.
Widex Evoke 220 is one of TruHearing’s advanced hearing aid models. At a price point of $1,250 per hearing aid, Widex Evoke 220 includes features like wind noise reduction, soft noise reduction, and special features to treat tinnitus.
- Premium TruHearing Hearing Aids:
“Premium” is the most expensive price level, which includes the latest digital hearing aid technology for better listening in loud restaurants and the most complicated listening environments. These hearing aids also include technology that identifies the directionality of sounds to focus on what you need to hear most.
Phonak Naida B 70 is one of TruHearing’s premium hearing aid models. At a price point of $1,575 per hearing aid, Phonak Naida B 70 includes hearing aid tech like “UltraZoom” technology to zoom into and focus on important sounds in complex hearing environments. It also includes special algorithms like “SNR-Boost” to clarify speech and sound by improving the signal-to-noise ratio.
A Note About the “True Hearing Select” Plan
In some cases, TruHearing only offers the most advanced technology to TruHearing Select customers, but many insurance plans don’t offer the True Hearing Select option. TruHearing Select hearing aids include the following tech:
- iPhone, iPad, and Android app compatibility
- 4 GHz wireless technology
- Spatial SpeechFocus technology to zero in on important sounds
- OwnVoice Processing (OVP) to make your own voice sound more natural
- Premium EchoShield to eliminate echos
- Premium eWindScreen to protect against wind noise
- The option to upgrade to rechargeable batteries on certain models
The complete catalog of TruHearing hearing aids is available on their website. There are hundreds of styles, varieties, and brands to choose from.
What Do Customers Say About TruHearing?
With the chance of getting the same hearing aid at a slightly lower price point, it’s no surprise that customers are turning to TruHearing. But are customers happy with their hearing aids? And are they satisfied with the level of medical services they receive?
Reviews on the internet are mixed. Although TruHearing maintains a positive, 4.6 out of 5 star rating overall on Facebook, on Yelp they’ve only achieved 3 out of 5 stars – so let’s take a closer look at individual reviews.
This positive Facebook TruHearing review from Patricia Jo Bader says:
“TruHearing person I spoke to on 9/6/2019 was very good in explaining how the Humana TruHearing Select works, he gave me information about several Hearing Consultants and scheduled by appointment with San Antonio Custom Hearing, on 9/18/2019. My ENT doctor had scheduled me to see Hearing Consultant located at her office on 9/11/2019. I kept that appointment. During that visit, Hearing Consultant called TruHearing to have Humana TruHearing benefits explained. She said the person she spoke with was extremely good at answering her questions. Got my TruHearing 19 RIC Advanced hearing aids on 9/23/2019 and am so happy to hear what I had been missing.”
This negative Facebook TruHearing review from Wayne Mullannix criticizes the level of medical care and service he received:
“I have had my Flyte 900 for about 3 months and I really like them but the hearing center they sent me to is not one I would recommend. I got no instructions on cleaning and am very frustrated that they want to charge me $120 to come in and get shown how to take care of them. I also want to know how to use them to listen to my smart tv but do not want to be just rushed through an appointment without getting to ask questions. I would like to find someone else for support with my hearing aids that I like but do not know how to use as I should.”
This negative 3-Star Yelp TruHearing review from Bernadette P. criticizes the level of medical care received:
“Hearing Aids are very good. Strongly recommend anyone considering hearing aids first have their ears checked by an ENT doctor first prior to seeing the TruHearing audiologist. I saw an ENT after I got the hearing aids because my hearing in my right ear was so poor. The ENT found that my Right ear was plugged with wax diminishing my ability to hear. After removal, my hearing greatly improved to the point wearing the Hearing Aid made things too loud. I paid a co-pay to have the right aid adjust by the TruHearing audiologist, but sounds are still louder than I’d like. I really can hear well without the hearing aids but the money is spent, and trial period is closed. I had the wax removed I would not have thought I needed hearing aids in the first place, even if I may have some hearing loss. So I wear them, as the $2K is spent, but wanted others to hear my suggestion to see an ENT first.”
This negative 1-Star Yelp TruHearing review from Alice A. says that her mother’s hearing aids from TruHearing were defective and she had to pay to get them fixed:
“When we ordered two hearing aids at $1000 each for my mother recently they arrived defective, the tubes are facing the opposite of each ear and the hearing aid dispenser ignored this when fitting them into her ear. I am disappointed and will be returning them at the audiology office but because the aids are from TruHearing you must pay $125 to do that! I liked the technology but don’t like the cheap looking awkward hearing aids!”
This positive 5-Star Yelp TruHearing review from Tina M. was perfectly satisfied:
“I called TruHearing last year when I decided to look into getting new hearing aids. They gave me the name of an audiologist in my area (Cosmetic Hearing Solutions in Annandale, VA) and helped me get an appointment set up. Once I went to the audiologist, it was basically not a lot different from previous similar visits: she did a hearing test, we discussed options, she adjusted my existing hearing aids in the meantime, and ordered new ones. There was a slight mishap when the new hearing aids arrived: the wrong one had accidentally been ordered; I’m not sure who was at fault. However, they let me know as soon as they realized the mistake, and rushed the correct order (at no extra cost to me) as I was going on vacation soon and wanted to have them before I left. The cost to me was probably about $1000-2000 less than retail, and the hearing aids have worked fine. So I’m satisfied.”
Final Thoughts on TruHearing
TruHearing has done a lot to lower the prices on major hearing aid brands. However, it’s important to note that this hearing aid company works to support the largest hearing aid conglomerate in the world. Therefore, some might argue that the hearing aids offered through TruHearing are overpriced to begin with.
Also, many customer reviews indicate a lower level of service and medical care when visiting a “TruHearing-affiliated” audiology practice. Some reviewers also complained of defective hearing aids, which they had trouble fixing because they went through TruHearing.
If you have browsed the TruHearing catalog, and you’re dead-set on this provider – or if it’s the most inexpensive hearing aid option available through your insurer – then TruHearing could be an excellent match for your needs. However, you may also want to consider a manufacturer-direct hearing aid provider, which can offer dramatically lower price points than TruHearing (and usually with a money back guarantee).
At the end of the day, there is a difference between cheap hearing aids and affordable ones.
Fascinated by emerging technologies in the medical, app development, and data analytics fields, Jeremy Hillpot’s background representing investors and retirees in consumer fraud litigation offers a unique perspective on a wide range of topics. He writes about hearing aid technology, medical tech, agrotechnology, blockchain, big data analytics, cryptocurrencies, financial topics, and the law. Contact Jeremy at jhillpot@legalwritingFINRA.com or follow him on Quora.