Read this before buying hearing aids at Costco

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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Cooking more at home? Diverse food cultures can expand heart-healthy menu

For many in the United States, dinner means a large portion of meat and two sides, usually a starch and a vegetable. Think steak, potatoes and peas, or chicken, carrots and rice.

“That’s a very American and northern European idea—a meal which stems from a large amount of meat being available, and also wealth,” said Amy Bentley, a professor of food studies at New York University.

But trying different dishes from diverse cultures can open up a new menu of heart-healthy food options and go-to meal ideas. And now, with more people making their own meals as they stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, what better time than World Day of Cultural Diversity to try something different for dinner?

Meat is just an accent on the dish in many other parts of the world, said Bentley, author of “Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health and the Industrialization of the American Diet.” Vegetables, including legumes like black beans or chickpeas, make up a medium portion of the plate. A starch like rice or polenta usually makes up the largest portion. Spices add flavor.

Think an Indian curry or Chinese stir-fried chicken and vegetables.

If you’re cooking the dish for the first time, Bentley recommends making a smaller amount or going light on spicier ingredients to get used to the flavors.

Keep moderation in mind when sizing up portions, too, said Ronaldo Linares, a New Jersey-based chef and restaurant consultant who teaches cooking classes. Linares, who comes from a Cuban-Colombian background, wrote the cookbook, “Sabores de Cuba,” a recipe collection of classic Cuban dishes with a healthy, diabetes-friendly twist.

Eating one big meal has the potential to cause fluctuations in blood sugar, Linares said. Research shows fluctuations in blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol could put people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke.

Using fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods can add interesting flavors, he added. “If you are sticking to the guidelines of traditional cooking, it’s going to be naturally healthy.”

Instead of store-bought salsa, Bentley suggested making homemade salsa with chopped-up tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos and a pinch of salt. If a recipe calls for butter, Linares suggested substituting avocado oil or olive oil, which are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Both Linares and Bentley noted that for some families, a lack of access to affordable, fresh ingredients can hamper the ability to eat diverse or healthier foods. Food choices also can be influenced by the exposure to ads for sugary drinks and fast food, regardless of one’s racial or ethnic background.

Just 1 in 10 adults meet the daily recommendation of having at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ultimately, we need a better food environment,” Bentley said. “It’s too much to expect the individual to be solely responsible because so much of this is about the food that’s available in the culture as well as socioeconomic issues.”

Some general nutritional guidelines can fit into meals within any cultural preference, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They include making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and adding calcium-rich foods to each meal.

“It’s better to talk about healthy approaches to eating through actual food rather than nutrients,” Bentley said, “and not get hung up on portions and the minute mechanics that only adds to people’s stress.”

The American Heart Association suggests a healthy dietary pattern to reduce heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Plant-based and Mediterranean diets are singled out in AHA dietary guidelines.

Linares picked Peruvian cuisine when asked to highlight another food culture for people looking to try heart-healthy but flavorful alternatives. His sample meal starts with ceviche, a seafood dish.

“So, let’s say a ceviche of cooked octopus. It’s super tender, they char it, serve it cold, toss it in some lime juice and some herbs,” he said. “Then you have a sweet potato puree and add some aromatics and seasoning. Add some corn, some pickled onions and you put it together in this beautiful bowl.

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Finally! You Can Get Adult & Kids Face Masks at Old Navy

Unless you’ve been lucky enough to have sewing skills and spare breathable fabric lying around the house, you might be in the same boat as so many of us, still struggling to find good masks for our children and ourselves. Today we have good news for you: Old Navy has is now selling super cute, stylish kids masks and adult masks, at rather incredible prices.

The masks are in the kind of preppy and preppy prints Old Navy has always used for its shorts and pajamas. There are plaids, checks, paisleys, anchors, tropical motifs, stripes, polka dots, and the occasional Warhol-esque banana. You can’t choose, however. The kids masks and adult masks are sold in “surprise packs” of five for $12.50.

All the masks are three-ply 100 percent cotton, with elastic over-ear straps.

There is a catch here. As hospitals have known long before us, it’s pretty difficult to get something — even something as simply designed as a reusable cloth mask — into production very quickly, especially when we’re in the midst of a pandemic. So even Old Navy’s factories aren’t able to get us instant gratification here. These masks have only been available for pre-order since 5 a.m. ET Friday, are selling so fast that they the estimated shipping date is May 27 as of this writing. Get your orders in soon!

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Still mask shopping? Most of these kids masks are available right now.






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