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Legal for Individual to Sell Used Hearing Aids?

By February 22, 2008

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An About.com visitor asked:
Mom just passed away and this past August we purchased new hearing aids for her. They are Siemens and they are made for inside the ear. Is there anyway we can re-sell them? I called Sertoma where I purchased them and they said there was nothing they could do for us. Is is ok to sell used hearing aids?


I do not know the legality of doing this, so I asked someone. That person said: I've watched many hearing aids being sold on Ebay, garage sales, and some pawn/thrift shops. I've yet to hear of anyone being shut down for that.


Comment from guide: I suppose it is not that different from buying hearing aids on the internet. You still have to have an audiologist service the hearing aids and program them.

Comments
February 23, 2008 at 11:33 am
(1) Jason says:

American laws regarding the sale of hearing aids are crazy. At the VERY least, deaf consumers should enjoy the same rights as soft contact lens wearers, and be able to buy REPLACEMENT hearing aids via mail order at deeply-discounted prices using a copy of their audiogram “prescription”. FDA regulations about hearing aids are intended to protect the hearing aid companies, not deaf consumers. The scope of damage from someone buying/wearing a “wrong” hearing aid is ultimately self-limiting — they’ll quit wearing it on their own because it’ll either be useless, painful, or both. At worst, they’ll have wasted a few hundred dollars (vs burned several thousand each time they buy one from an authorized practitioner).

In any case, it’ll soon be moot anyway. The underlying technology is now so cheap, there’s no reason why it can’t be moved from a single, expensive device (the hearing aid) into the devices that would otherwise make use of it (iPod & digital media players, cell phones, etc). Why SHOULDN’T someone who hears well enough (with hearing aid) to enjoy music, but not well enough to bother wearing one the rest of the time, have to screw with a hearing aid AND compatible player, instead of just buying a player with beefier amp & headphones that boosts the frequency bands directly?

I can’t wait until someone releases a Bluetooth headset with built-in mp3 playback capabilities that work independently of the phone itself. Why? Because then the open-source programming community will have all the hardware we need to hack it into a hundred-dollar digital hearing aid. Microphone? check. Amp? check. Arm9 microcontroller w/DSP whose firmware can be reflashed via USB? check. It’s only a matter of time… watch for it!

Don’t believe me? Just google ‘+bluetooth +(“hearing aid” OR CI) +(hack OR hacked OR hacks)’ to see how many people have ALREADY had some good, clean, FDA-unapproved fun enhancing the capabilities of their existing hardware…

February 25, 2008 at 10:02 am
(2) Rox says:

You could consider donating it to an organization who helps people who really need them. Sertoma will take them as donations.

February 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm
(3) DeafShark says:

Too many people including hearing and deaf individuals, illegally sell hearing aids whenever they receive from the VR or the charity agency.

Hearing aid seen as a health subject which have to be regulated under various local, state and federal laws.

People still sell the used mattress anyway against the government regulations.

We are better off without the use of hearing aids anyway. Don’t you agree?

DeafShark

September 4, 2008 at 4:58 pm
(4) Dr. PJM says:

It is very unfortunate that a large number of hearing loss individuals have been treated so poorly by our profession. As with any health profession, there are good providers and bad. I will say, hearing aids are a very specific “prescriptive” device for a very complex organ in humans (ear). Just as w/ the eyes or medications, a poor hearing prescription can harm your hearing permanently. There is no easy way to design a machine (hearing aid) to fit just anyone. Every person and every hearing loss is completely different along with numerous non-medical variables of ear size, personal preference, expectations, work environment, etc. As far as donations, the “in-the-ear” type are custom made, much like “dentures” are made with an impression as well as the technical sound prescription. No hearing aid should be worn by anyone unless prescribed. There are OTC (over the counter) hearing aids that are in fact re-usable like contact lenses. The price varies from $89-189/pair and are replaced from 60-90 days. Hearing changes constantly and regular annual exams are often required to change the prescription, not to mention difficulties with earwax, dexterity problems w/ insertion, expectations and family counseling on what hearing aids can or cannot do.
For those that think hearing aids are a headache, I would suggest trying a different professional. There are no easy answers, however, the profession of audiology now an 8 yr specialized degree should have someone, somewhere that can help you!

September 5, 2008 at 10:32 am
(5) cs says:

I understand how you feel. Please don’t criticize this person for asking. We paid $3,000 for hearing aids. Mom died a month later. We owe $1,000. She wore the hearing aids thee times. I owe $950. So, donating them doesn’t pay the balance. Insurance dosn’t pay for hearing aids. It’s a real problem. And, so many older people need them. And, it’s a real scam market. It seems like there is a hearing aid company on every corner.

October 7, 2008 at 3:06 pm
(6) Benjamin F Graves says:

I know what everyone here is saying is true. i ‘ve worn hearing aides for last 12 years and just up graded to digital in ear type. But lost them as sone as warinty went out. Now comes fun part. I wish to replace them but can’t afford to spend another 3200.00 to replace them. Just went through tuff times with wife in hosiptal for las 3 i/2 weeks and no telling what our share of it will cost. Yes I’m still working class and have already used up Aflack program for this year and next year. So were does that leave me. Well I can tell you that if I could find pair Bi-cross type hearing aides that are used but able to have them fitted for a lot less cost yes I will do it. I have no choice but do it this way.

October 11, 2008 at 1:45 am
(7) Michelle says:

I’m 27 yrs old & have worn hearing aids since I was 5 yrs old. I can’t imagine life without them, yet I worry about the future costs, as they have to be replaced about every 5-7 yrs and INSURANCE DOES NOT HELP ME AT ALL. My audiologist helped me out…an elderly gentleman had purchased a pair of Belltone, digital, in-the-ear aids and unexpectedly died a few months later. His wife either donated the aids back to my audiologist or he refunded her…I’m not really sure. All I know is that I needed new hearing aids & could NOT afford them, and my audiologist was able to take the impressions from my ears, send the previously mentioned deceased man’s hearing aids back to the factory & they put the “insides” from his hearing aids into my molds. There was still a cost for me (around $1700 total, for 2 aids)…much, much less than it would have been if I’d gotten them “brand new.” Since the hearing aids are digital, my audiologist was able to program them to fit my specific hearing needs. I will be eternally grateful to my audiologist for doing this for me.

Having said that, I can see both sides…if you can afford to donate them–please do! I know that there are people, such as myself, that really need hearing aids in order to function in their lives. However, I know I’d be tempted to sell my older hearing aids (I’ve got a mini collection at this point!) in order to fund the next hearing aid purchase. All I can really say is that people who don’t have to deal with hearing loss and/or the cost of hearing aids should not judge those of us that deal with one or more aspects of hearing loss (including financial aspects) daily.

Sorry so lengthy…my soapbox.

December 12, 2008 at 12:28 pm
(8) Bob says:

Dont see nothing wrong with selling/buying Second hand BTE Aids. From a financial point of view it would be the best thing to happen for us HOH.

February 10, 2009 at 2:43 am
(9) Jason says:

I can understand the frustrations all of you have shared. I am an audiologist and a lifetime hearing aid user myself. Hearing aids do have a substantial cost involved but not it’s not based on greed (At least for me). There are many costs involved (office costs, time, advertising, wages, etc). We can not keep our doors open unless we make a fair and reasonable amount on our hearing aids. However, their are some hearing aid dispensers who may have a different idea of what’s fair and reasonable, I will not deny that. It’s important to have a reliable audiologist you trust and can go back to for years to come. Many Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinics dispense hearing aids usually at a cheaper cost because they don’t need as much mark-up from hearing aids. That would be a good place for all of you to start. In addition, they are a clinical office as compared to a retail setting. It makes a huge difference where you go!

Hearing aids are labeled by the FDA as a medical device. This is why selling used hearing aids is not done. I have donated much of my time dispensing hearing aids for the Lions Club at No Charge. They take used hearing aids and get credit for parts from manufacturers who use them for repairs.

February 24, 2009 at 12:56 pm
(10) woody says:

Most independent Audiologists will re-program a
hearing aid for a small fee. The ones in a custom molded shell, such as an ITE rather than a BTE might be more problematic. But yes, you certainly could sell them, and the buyer could take them to a local independent audiologist, and get the fitted and re-programmed. My dad’s audiologist will reprogram an aid for a 50.00 fee. so if you have an audiogram, and 50.00 you can get it done. That said, you will not have the full services you sometimes get. For example, my dads audi will give him batteries for life, he can come in any time to get them cleaned, tweaked or just inserted. She told me that for a reprogramed aid, they would refit it until it worked, but after than there would be charges for anything else, and he would have to buy his own batteries etc, and that is a substantial cost.

I’m looking for a good used set of high end aids to get reprogrammed for someone who desperately needs them but cannot afford to buy aids. (he is 84 and on ss (at less than 800.00 ) per month.

March 3, 2009 at 8:05 pm
(11) joe says:

I wish I could find a less greedy audiologist. I am disabled on social security went to am audiolodist and was told I need hearing aids. One of my neighbors donated a pair of 2 year old widex flash-19 to me and I took them to her. She said they were too old. When I told her they were less than 2 years old she then said they were too powerful for my loss. Immediately she said a new pair would cost $3200 and I could probably get a loan on my house. She would not reprogram them although they are digital BTE’s. I then called another audiolodist and told him I had a prescription and the hearing aids. He said he could reprogram them but it would cost me $1500 to REPROGRAM. Tell me that is not a ripoff. I will have to go without due to the greed of these so called professionals. Even tyhe inventor of the modern circuitry for hearing aids Dr. Killion (I believe that is how his name is spelled) states that the cost of hearing aids is greatly inflated and out of reach for most common people. He does not see how hearing aid suppliers could be so greedy. I am sick over my treatment by these “professionals”.

May 5, 2009 at 1:04 pm
(12) Terry says:

Mom purchased Audibel Virtue hearing aids, wore them once & passed away. We still owe $3,000 on them. Any suggestions or avenues on how to sell or recoup these funds? We’re not getting any help from companies involved. Thanks for any advise.

May 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm
(13) John W Dudley says:

I am a retired hearing aid dispenser and business owner after 40 years. I have worked with the deaf and hard of hearing my entire life.
The high cost of hearing aids has always been something that irritates me to no end. I have complained to the upper echelons but nobody really listens. My father nor my mother could ever afford hearing aids as well as many of my deaf and hard of hearing relatives. My grandmother who passed away at 99 years of age never had a hearing aid and spent the last few years of her life very lonely.
The hearing industry complain that only 2% of those who need hearing aids are buying hearing aids. While I was in business I worked with the other 98% and enjoyed the expressions of happiness that spread all over their faces when they could hear again. The market of hearing aids would improve tremendously if the 98% could be targeted with less costly hearing benefits. The problem is that greed takes over and the other is that no one wants to work harder to earn an income.
There just is not enough room nor time to vent all my frustrations over this, but I hope somebody will read it and have compassion for all those who will never be able to enjoy life to the full by providing hearing aids at a more reasonable price.
John W Dudley, RHAD (Retired Hearing Aid Dispenser. Iíve always wanted initials at the end of my name.

October 25, 2009 at 9:27 am
(14) Oliver says:

I bought my name-brand BTE for $900 online. The local dispanser (a hospital) wanted about $3200 for the same device. Yes it was new and came with all the bells and whistles. I sent my diagram and they programmed it before sending it. I’ve had an update from a local audiologist for $25.
Tha mfr has stopped the firm I bought it from advertising their brand on the web, but a little surfing should find it or similar.

March 18, 2010 at 10:05 am
(15) Matt says:

Without hearing aids, a lot of our elderly community can occur other problems that lead to future health problems. One specifically is Dementia. When someone looses the ability to communicate and interact with people and their surroundings, they tend to fall off into their own world, leading to Dementia. The ear is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Like bad eyes without glasses, the longer you wait to address the problem, the worse it gets. Wait too long and you can’t be helped at all.

November 25, 2010 at 8:48 am
(16) Sue says:

In the state of Ohio there is a program called passport, for lowincome people who need hearing aids. Check your local Job and Family Services to see if you loved one may qualify for this program or a simular one.

December 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(17) Marv Lehrer says:

With anaolog I can understand the medical aspects and special internal design requirments with its FDA restrictions.Now with the digital availability the sets are similar and variations in the medical reuirements performed by computer programing. The ONLY remaining medical aspect in the hearing aid business is that the programing should reflect the audioligist report and the program professionaly performed. The instruments should NOT be classified as a medical devise any longer.

May 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm
(18) Skip Voorhees says:

I have been unable to find a hearing aid that can minimize the interference of ambiant sound in group situations while simultaineously coping with the varying frequencies associated with diction and volume. TV ears essntially solves these problems; is there no similar technology for hearing aids, per se?

Thanks, in advance, for a response. SV

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