Can I buy a hearing aid from the Internet? What are the pros and cons?
The short answer to the question is, yes, hearing aids can be purchased from the Internet. Is it in the best interest of the potential user? Definitely not. It seems anything can be purchased from the Internet these days. There are websites that sell cars, homes, electronics, mortgages and yes, medical equipment. Most websites that sell over the internet are legitimate. Some, however, are not. Purchasing something over the internet that sounds too good to be true probably is too good to be true. Buyer Beware.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates how hearing aids are sold. Hearing aids are considered medical devices. There are strict guidelines that spell out how hearing aids can be sold. Specific testing must be performed before hearing aids are sold. In most states, a person who sells hearing aids must hold a license, either as an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist, before being allowed to sell hearing aids. A medical clearance from a physician is strongly recommended so there is no question whether the hearing loss is permanent or medically treatable.
If the website is selling mail order “hearing enhancement devices”, beware it is not a hearing aid. It may look similar to a hearing aid, use a battery like a hearing aid and make sounds louder but it is NOT a hearing aid.
If the website is selling what appears to be the same thing you have considered buying from your hearing professional, same make, model, brand name, it is possibly an illegal site. The hearing aid sold in this manner may not have a valid warranty and there would be no way to have it cleaned, adjusted or repaired locally.
There are websites selling hearing aids as part of an insurance plan. The buyer must provide a hearing test done professionally. That test is used to choose a hearing aid, program it and ship it to the user. The price quoted is for the device only. There is not service included. In other words, there probably is no local office to provide cleaning, adjustments, or repairs.
Can hearing aids be purchased from the Internet, yes. In many cases you get what you pay for. Hearing loss is so individualized from person to person. This is not a one size fits all product. Hearing aids are intended to maximize a person’s useable hearing for the best communication. The service provided by a hearing healthcare professional is the best way to accomplish this. Audiology Consultants is very proud of the service we provide with every hearing aid sold.