Hearing Aids That Are Actually Affordable (and Good)

Medically reviewed by Brad Ingrao, AuD

Hearing loss is a widespread and often-neglected condition—of the 26.7 million Americans aged 50 or older living with hearing loss, only 3.8 million (1 in 7) use hearing aids. Younger people, and those with milder hearing loss, are even more likely to pass up on hearing devices; and that’s a mistake.

Even mild hearing loss makes it harder for your brain to process speech. And hearing loss has been associated with declines in global cognitive function, executive function, processing speed, and memory. Over time, as your hearing inevitably worsens, you may experience significant cognitive decline, dementia, anxiety, and even depression.

Of course, it’s not just the lack of knowledge about health consequences or the stigma that prevents people from seeking treatment for hearing loss. Hearing aids are also known for being prohibitively expensive.

Over the last few years, the hearing aid world has changed dramatically, with a number of self-fitting and telehealth-supported products hitting the market. And there are ways to save money on in-person services too. Let’s explore the more-affordable options offered by both the traditional medical-model hearing aid manufacturers as well as the alternative products available in 2022.

Why are hearing aids so expensive?

A standard medical-model hearing aid will set you back anywhere from a few hundred dollars, up to four thousand dollars per device. Our own price survey showed that the average price for one hearing aid was $2,560.

When you purchase a hearing aid, the first thing you’re paying for is the hardware—which is expensive on its own. Audiologists order hearing aids through wholesale accounts and often pay over one-to-two thousand per device, depending on the technology level. Hearing aid manufacturers claim that the prices are so high due to the amount of research and development that goes into creating the products.

Sonova's Real Life Lab at their headquarters in Stäfa, Switzerland.

Sonova's Real Life Lab at their headquarters in Stäfa, Switzerland.

The next thing you’re paying for is the professional services required to fit your hearing aid, which may include up to five free years follow-up care. While most hearing aids come bundled with services, it is possible to find providers who will sell you follow-up services as an add on when you purchase your hearing aids, and some others offer follow-up care on a pay-per-appointment basis.

Real Ear Measurements Performed

Real-ear measurements (REMs) is a test that many audiologists perform to validate appropriate hearing aid amplification.

Let’s not forget that modern hearing aids are more than just a battery-powered microphone with an amplifier. Recent advances in chip technology, artificial intelligence, and digital data processing have massively improved the sound quality these high-tech listening devices can achieve, especially for more severe hearing loss. On top of that, wireless technology, mobile apps, and new battery technology have taken convenience to the next level.

Features that may fetch a premium

Feature Why you might want it What to keep in mind
Rechargeable battery Replacing disposable batteries can be difficult for those with dexterity issues, and they are bad for the environment. Rechargeable batteries can go bad, too. Hence, be sure to follow best practices, such as avoiding deep discharges or too frequent recharges.
Bluetooth Bluetooth connectivity means you can control your hearing aid from a smartphone app and stream audio directly to it. Many hearing aids also support hands-free calling over Bluetooth. To stream audio directly to your phone, your hearing aid needs to support Bluetooth LE and your smartphone needs to support ASHA (Android 10 or up) or MFi (Apple). Also watch out for Bluetooth LE Audio, which is the latest wireless standard that is rolling out shortly. Alternatively, you can use a Bluetooth accessory, like Signia’s StreamLineMic, to connect your hearing aids to your phone for audio streaming.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Hearing aid AIs use massive datasets to process sound in real-time. This lets your hearing aid adapt to its environment or filter out noise or sound artifacts, like wind, and increase speech clarity. AI technology is new in the hearing aid world, and there isn’t a lot of third-party oversight vetting the claims made by manufacturers.
Adaptive directional microphone Directional microphones are scientifically proven to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, thus increasing your chances of hearing well in background noise. "Adaptive" means directional mics are automatically steered to optimize speech amplification. Directional microphones provide less benefit with open-fitting hearing aids, which are by far the most common type. They also provide less benefit with diffuse multi-talker babble, which is common in difficult situations, like restaurants.
Tinnitus features Your hearing aid can play sounds to mask your tinnitus and help you focus or relax. Most hearing aids feature tinnitus sound generators. Some also offer tinnitus retraining programs that may facilitate tinnitus habituation and adaptation. However, those typically involve a subscription service.

Of course, hearing aid manufacturers benefit from progress in other fields. Still, considering the limited niche they serve, their research and development cost per unit sold is enormous, compared to, for example, a set of consumer earbuds, where the market is so much larger. What’s more, with only a handful of  manufacturers controlling the hearing aid market, it’s much less competitive than the markets for most consumer electronic devices.

Below is an overview of what you can expect to pay for the flagship models offered by leading medical-model hearing aid brands. These numbers are based on data provided to HearingTracker by audiologists across the country.

Typical pricing for high-level technology

Brand Model Price per device
Oticon More 1 $3,698
Phonak Audéo Paradise P90 $3,625
ReSound One 9 $3,575
Signia Pure Charge&Go AX 7 AX $3,646
Starkey Evolve AI 2400 $3,621
Widex MOMENT 440 $3,597

Prices as of April 19, 2022.

Generally, you’ll pay about half as much when you go with one of the more affordable options listed below. In exchange, you may compromise on technology, features, and services.

Another reason we’re so acutely aware of the price of hearing aids is that, unlike many other medical aids and services, they’re typically not covered by health insurance. However, that might change in the near future.

Should you wait for Medicare to cover hearing aids?

Presently, Medicare offers no coverage for hearing aids. This may change, however, if the Senate passes the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act. The proposed changes to the Social Security Act and Medicare include coverage of hearing aids and related services. However, we don’t recommend waiting until the bill comes into effect.

Even if the Build Back Better Act does come into effect, it won’t be until January 21st, 2024. If you suffer from hearing loss, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Note that based on the current version of the bill, you’ll only qualify for coverage, if you suffer from moderately severe to profound hearing loss. That excludes a large portion of individuals who would benefit from listening aids.

In the meantime, let’s see how you can get affordable hearing aids that will help you now.

Over-the-counter hearing aids — will they help?

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids will bring down the price of hearing devices, at least at first glance. Since you won’t have to consult with a hearing care professional before purchasing OTC hearing aids, they are essentially unbundled by default. The lower price makes those listening devices more accessible, but it comes at a cost, which is lack of service and quality.

OTC hearing aids are suitable for adults with self-perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss. But, we’re notoriously bad at judging our own hearing. Chances are, you won’t know how bad your hearing really is until you’ve completed a hearing test. While you can quickly check your hearing online, or through your smartphone, we always recommend having your hearing tested by an audiologist to get a baseline and confidently rule out medical pathology. If you’re determined to skip the audiologist appointment, at minimum, we recommend taking the Consumer Ear Disease Risk Assessment, offered by Mayo Clinic and Northwestern University.

A major challenge of hearing aids is maintenance. According to Doctor Cliff, 20% of appointments at his clinic are related to servicing hearing aids—and he often finds that hearing aids fail to meet manufacturer specifications after long periods of use. In other words, the sound quality of a hearing aid can degrade over time, often unbeknownst to the wearer (because it happens so gradually). With OTC hearing aids, you will miss out on these quality checks, unless you’re able to find a care provider to service them, which, of course, will cost extra.

And sometimes, it’s you and not the hearing aids that have gotten worse. The annual checkups provided by audiologists are to check the performance of the hearing aids but also the hearing of the patient. If your hearing deteriorates, your audiologist should tune up your hearing aids to accommodate for the change, ideally with validation from real-ear measurements.

On the bright side, due to the lower price, OTC hearing aids will get more people interested in hearing devices. This should hopefully put a big dent in the “unaided” population that has been sitting on the sidelines, doing nothing about their hearing problems. Moreover, the increase in competition will likely lead to technological innovations that should improve performance and outcomes across the board.

Keep in mind, however, that OTC hearing aids aren’t suitable for everyone. Adults with severe or profound hearing loss (or medical red flags) and children should always see a professional. ASHA warns that children treated with OTC hearing aids “are at risk for severe complications due to untreated ear disease; inadequate amplification leading to severe, permanent, and disabling language impairment; as well as additional hearing loss due to inappropriate levels of amplification.”

Moreover, if you have any of the conditions listed below, the NIH recommends to “see a licensed physician promptly,” as you may have an underlying medical condition:

  • Fluid, pus, or blood coming out of your ear within the previous six months.
  • Pain or discomfort in your ear.
  • A history of excessive ear wax or suspicion that something is in your ear canal.
  • Episodes of vertigo (severe dizziness) with hearing loss.
  • Sudden hearing loss or quickly worsening hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss that has gotten more and then less severe within the last six months.
  • Hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing) in only one ear, or a noticeable difference in how well you can hear in each ear.

OTC hearing aids aren’t for everyone, but they will help some. Other options aren’t good for anyone.

Not every affordable hearing device will meet OTC guidelines. Many unscrupulous brands offer cheap hearing aids that promise relief, but don’t actually work. Some have been marketing themselves as “FDA-approved” OTC hearing aids. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t take action on these illegal online hearing aid companies.

Dr Cliff produced an April Fool's day video illustrating how poorly the FDA enforces hearing aid regulations. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Online hearing aids — do your homework!

  • Watch out for aggressive marketing, unrealistic promises, short trial periods, and false claims. For example, the FTC issued a warning to one company that falsely advertised a $3,000 refund through a non-existent Covid-19 healthcare stimulus program, if customers purchased one of their hearing aids. The Brattleboro Hearing Center breaks down other common hearing aid scams.
  • Don’t trust testimonials on the seller’s website. Instead, check the company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and any customer reviews or complaints posted to its BBB listing.
  • Read independent reviews. If you’re a member of Consumer Reports, review their hearing aid ratings.
  • Generally, beware of fake online reviews. These can be hard to spot, but sometimes you’ll notice dead giveaways, like the exact same wording showing up in multiple reviews or comments posted in quick succession with only few newer comments.
  • Is it a new or generic brand? See whether you can find a white-labeled (unbranded) version of the product on sites like Alibaba or AliExpress, online marketplaces stocked by Chinese manufacturers. If you do, notice the price difference; that’s the scammer’s margin.

Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Ivory Hearing has debunked another cheap rechargeable hearing aid. Most online hearing aids follow a similar pattern, which is to promise the best hearing aids at an incredibly low price, supported by false claims and fake testimonials. Often, they also discredit hearing care professionals.

Before buying a cheap brand name hearing aid on an online marketplace, one commenter on our forum recommends getting the serial number and verifying its legitimacy with the manufacturer. Otherwise, you might end up with stolen goods.

Best Options for Affordable Hearing Aids

Hearing aid prices aren’t regulated. While some hearing clinics may not be willing to slim down their margins, you may find better deals by shopping around. It always comes down to finding the right care provider and product for your needs.

1. Check your insurance coverage and compare prices

While Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, many private health insurances do. Third-party care providers like Epic and TruHearing work with insurances to provide hearing care benefits to their members. If your insurance is among them, you could get a large portion of the cost covered.

If your insurance covers hearing aids, be sure to ask whether they will accept out-of-network care providers. If they do, you could reach out to different hearing clinics to compare prices. Often, audiologists can offer you a better deal than your insurance’s third-party care provider.

2. Check for local hearing aid discounts

HearingTracker hosts a platform for audiologists to post Local Hearing Aid Discounts. This is a great place to start if you’re trying to get your bearings. You’ll see a selection of discounted hearing aids available in your area, how much they cost, and what’s included.

This advertising platform also allows HearingTracker to track hearing aid prices. You can review the average price for each hearing aid on our hearing aid price tracker. Though keep in mind that local factors, such as higher commercial rents or wages in urban areas, will impact the price of hearing aids. More experienced audiologists, or those that provide clinical best practices, may also charge more—and rightfully so!

3. Lower-end models from a local provider

Depending on your type of hearing loss, you may not need the most powerful technology level. For mild to moderate hearing loss, a well-fitted basic hearing aid will give you all (or most) of the benefits of better hearing, while not breaking the bank.

Ask your audiologist whether you will really take advantage of the additional features of more advanced models. For example, will you stream audio from your phone to your hearing aids, do you need a tinnitus program, or would a rechargeable device make your life a lot easier? If the answer is no, you might be fine with a simpler model.

4. Pay for services as you go

Another way to reduce the upfront cost is to purchase hearing aids independently of additional services. Many clinics unbundle the price, so you can purchase a hearing aid separately and pay for services, such as a hearing test, real ear measurement, device programming, orientation, replacement parts, and maintenance as you go.

This may or may not save you money in the long run, but it will take off the initial financial pressure. Moreover, if you’re not happy with the service you’re receiving or if you have to move, you’ll be able to switch providers much more easily.

Alternatively, if unbundling is not an option, you could inquire about financing your hearing aids. Just be careful when reviewing the payment terms to ensure interest payments don’t balloon the overall cost excessively.

5. Veterans Affairs (VA) hearing aid care

If you’re eligible for VA health care, you might also qualify for its hearing aid care. Members can schedule an appointment to have their hearing evaluated. If the audiologist recommends a hearing aid, the VA will cover the hearing aid and all associated costs.

Unfortunately, not everyone with hearing loss automatically qualifies for coverage under the VA. The VHA Directive 1034, which governs the prescription and provision of hearing aids to veterans, refers to 38 CFR 17.149 in regard to which veterans are eligible for hearing aids.

6. Check reputable online brands like Lively, Lexie, Audicus, Bose, and Eargo

Try searching for hearing aids on Amazon or your favorite search engine, and you’ll be flooded with options. Here are a few brands we can actually recommend. Be sure you have no worse than mild-to-moderate hearing loss, and rule out ear pathologies at an audiologist before proceeding!

Bose hearing aids

Bose sells fully self-fitting hearing aids for $849, though they are often on sale for less. We’ve seen them for as little as $699, so definitely check the latest price. The Bose SoundControl™ hearing aids were the first self-fitting hearing aids to be cleared by the FDA. The clearance process involved running an elaborate user study to establish the safety and efficacy of the devices. While they don’t have Bluetooth streaming, and they aren’t rechargeable, they are certainly worth considering if you need a pair of affordable self-fitting hearing aids that just work.

Bose Soundcontrol Hearing Aids

The Bose SoundControl hearing aids come with a 90-day risk-free trial and dedicated product support.

Eargo hearing aids

Eargo hearing aids aren’t cheap, with prices starting at $1,950, but they’re legit. What sets them apart from other OTC models is that they include a two-year warranty, ongoing professional telecare support, and you can buy them on Amazon, which offers additional buyer protection. Eargo 6 is their latest model.

Eargo 6

Eargo 6 is the first Eargo to customize amplification based on a hearing check. Older, cheaper models provide amplification presets for you to choose from.

Lively hearing aids

Lively hearing aids come in at $1,595 per pair for the Lively 2 Plus hearing aids or $1,195 for the Lively 2 Lite. They offer a fully remote service, consisting of an online hearing test, and app-based care. You can try your Lively hearing aids for 100 days, they offer financing at $52 or $39 per month, and the price includes three years of remote follow-up care.

Lively 2 Lite

Lively offers the "Lively 2 Lite" for under $1,200, with financing options available.

The more affordable Lively 2 Lite offers Bluetooth streaming for calls and music on iPhone and Android, but does not offer hands-free on calling iPhone like the more expensive Lively 2 Pro. Another difference: the Lite version uses disposable batteries, while the Pro is rechargeable.

Lively is owned by Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN, and the Lively 2 hearing aids share technology with GN’s flagship medical-model hearing aid brand ReSound.

Lexie hearing aids

Lexie hearing aids are available online or at select Walgreens drug stores. They proudly display an A+ BBB rating on their website and customer reviews agree. You can finance Lexie devices over a two-year period at $49 per month or pay $799 at once; the price is per pair. Shipping and returns are free.

Lexie Hearing Aids

Lexie hearing aids are available at Walgreens, or online, for $799. Financing available.

Once you hold your hearing aids in hand, you can use the app to take a hearing check and customize your units. For further adjustments, hearing experts are available through the app as well. An optional Care Kit keeps you stocked up on accessories. And you can earn Lexie Rewards for discounts or redeemable points just by using your hearing aids and providing feedback.

Audicus hearing aids

Audicus offers five different hearing aid options, ranging from $499 to $1,399 per ear. However, you can opt for a monthly membership of $39 - 89, instead. Whether you pay monthly, upfront, or go with a payment plan, you’ll start your journey with a hearing test, which you can either take online or complete by submitting existing test results. Programming adjustments are free for the life of the hearing aid.

Affordable Audicus

Audicus has been selling hearing aids online for years longer than the other vendors listed.

While Audicus hearing devices come with a 12 month manufacturer’s warranty, this only covers manufacturing defects. If you paid for your hearing aids upfront, any cleanings, repairs, or replacements are charged extra. However, you can opt for the monthly Audicus Protect Subscription, which will have you fully covered, even for loss replacement, for 24 months. Likewise, the Audicus Care Subscription ensures that you never run out of accessories. Those who choose the monthly membership receive all those benefits plus a replacement pair every 18 months.

Audicus is independently-owned, but sells hearing aids manufactured by Sonova, the parent company of popular hearing aid brands Phonak and Unitron.

7. Consider purchasing at Costco

Costco sells hearing aids at a great price point. Here’s how the company can do that:

  • Being a wholesaler, Costco buys hearing aids in bulk, which brings down the price significantly.
  • Costco employs a shop-in-shop model, which minimizes overheads substantially vs. traditional brick and mortar.
  • Costco’s hearing aid centers usually employ state-licensed hearing aid dispensers, which are paid less (on average) than audiologist.

Costco hearing aids can be a great deal, if the hearing aid center is staffed with a skilled care provider. You can get brand name hearing aids from Jabra, Philips, Phonak, Rexton, and Kirkland Signature (manufactured by Sonova), its in-house brand. Costco even mandates the use of real-ear measurements at all of its hearing centers.

Unlike OTC hearing aids, Costco offers a full service package. Before you commit to a product, you receive a free hearing test and product demonstrations. When you make a purchase, you will receive custom earmolds if you need them (may cost extra), free remote or in-person follow-up appointments for the lifetime of your hearing aids, as well as free cleanings, check-ups, and programming adjustments.

Of course, hearing aids fall under Costco’s standard three-year warranty, which covers repairs and replacements, as needed. During a two-year loss-and-damage warranty period, you can even get one hearing aid per year replaced, free of cost.