Unlike eyeglasses, hearing aids are considered “elective devices” by insurance companies, making them out of reach for many people (via Audicus). Some states mandate coverage, like Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. But if you don’t live in one of these places, chances are your insurance policy won’t cover the cost of a hearing aid, which can run anywhere from $2,000 to $4,600 a pair (via MD Hearing Aid). As a result, millions of people around the country live with some kind of hearing loss, and fewer than one in three of the folks that might be hard of hearing wear hearing aids.
To find hearing affordable hearing aids, you can opt to go online, where you can save money by passing on the cost of an audiologist. Then there’s Costco, which holds an 11 percent market share for all hearing aids sold in the country, under its Kirkland Select brand. Hearing Health Matters even notes that the prices for Kirkland hearing aids have been dropping in recent years, from $1,999 for the KS 4.0 model, to $1,499 for the KS 9.0 model which was released in June 2019.
Costco goes to reputable hearing aid manufacturers to get KS-branded stock
Like most (all?) things under the Kirkland Select label, Costco’s hearing aids are made by a reputable company known for their branded products. But because all of the hearing aids are branded “KS,” finding out which firm made which model takes a bit of research. The latest KS 9.0 model, for instance, is manufactured by Sonova and hit Costco’s hearing aid section in June 2019; the KS 7.0 and 8.0 were manufactured by Rexton, and it seems customers have a preference.
That’s why it’s worth keeping the KS 9.0’s release date in mind when you scan Consumer Affairs reports for reviews on Costco’s hearing aids, which have received a broad range of stars. It seems the devices are a love ’em or hate ’em product. Some reviewers appear to have given Costco’s hearing aids a one star for service at the store’s Hearing Center; others took to the reviews to complain about products bought before the June 2019 switch.
Costco may need to improve its customer service
Costco appears to have taken previous customer reviews to heart when they commissioned the KS 9.0, which received a solid video review by Arizona audiologist Clifford Olson on YouTube. Olson said the device appears to have many pros (helps with a wide range of hearing losses, is easily customizable, has Bluetooth functionality) and a few cons (including the lack of a telecoil, and that it doesn’t have rechargeable batteries). But he also highlighted that no matter how good a hearing aid might be, it is nothing without a professional who can make sure the device is properly fit.
Costco might need to take the customer service complaints as seriously as it took feedback on the design of previous hearing aid models. Costco currently staffs its centers with hearing aid specialists who can recommend hearing aids, but few audiologists who specialize in treatment of hearing loss. It’s worth noting Costco offers free hearing screenings and hearing aid cleaning.
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