Millions of people experience hearing loss, but only about one in four who need hearing aids have ever used them, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you find yourself among those who haven't received treatment for your hearing loss, you probably already know that the high cost of hearing aids keeps many people from getting the help they need.
With this in mind, Health editors researched dozens of brands of hearing aids, including traditional brands sold through an audiologist's office and brands that you can purchase online to help you find the best hearing aid for your needs. We chose MDHearingAid as our top pick for hearing aids you can buy online, primarily for the value they provide. Starting at $400 per pair, they're the most affordable hearing solution you're likely to find anywhere.
MDHearingAid devices come with a wide range of features and technology to suit most hearing needs and budgets. They are sold directly to the consumer, thus cutting out the need for a middleman or costly storefronts. Customers can buy hearing aids from the privacy of their homes at a fraction of the cost of traditional brands, which is an especially an advantage for people who want to avoid the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
While MDHearingAid devices have many attractive features, they may not be right for everyone. Provided below is our unbiased review of MDHearingAid, including the reasons they earned our top spot.
MDHearingAid manufactures its hearing aids in Southfield, Michigan. Currently, four models are in the company’s lineup:
The VOLT+ is the company’s most popular device. It’s rechargeable and lasts for up to 30 hours on a single three-hour charge. The magnetic carrying case can charge the hearing aids approximately three times before the case needs to be recharged. This feature makes it a great choice for people on the go. If you’re active outdoors, we think you’ll love the VOLT+’s water-resistant coating, which offers a layer of protection against rain, sweat, and other sources of moisture that could damage its internal components.
The VOLT+ has two multidirectional microphones and advanced noise reduction and feedback cancellation technology for an optimal hearing experience. It also has four different audio settings designed by audiologists to help you hear well in even the noisiest environments. The company’s website claims the VOLT+ works for over 94% of individuals with hearing loss.
Cost: $599 each or $1,199 a pair, which includes the magnetic charging/carrying case ($100 a month with 0% financing for 12 months)
This is the company’s entry-level analog hearing aid. It’s designed to block distracting background noises, making it easier to focus on spoken words. The PRO is ideal for watching TV, chatting with friends in person or on the phone, and listening to music at home. It’s not as useful in more noisy environments, such as at church, sporting events, or crowded restaurants.
The PRO uses disposable batteries and has two different audio settings which the company says work for about 80% of hearing loss issues. There is a volume adjustment button on the back of the device, as well as a tiny dial to switch between audio profiles.The device doesn’t have a directional microphone or feedback reduction technology.
Cost: $199 each or $399 a pair ($33 a month with 0% financing for 12 months)
The AIR is a step up from the PRO. It uses digital signal processing (DSP), which converts sound waves into digital signals. DSP enables more complex sound processing for improved performance in most environments. The AIR has noise reduction and feedback cancellation capabilities, enabling you to use them even in noisy environments.
Wearers can adjust the hearing aid volume and switch between four different audio settings by tapping buttons on the back of the device. Like the PRO, the AIR uses disposable batteries. While it lacks a directional microphone, the AIR has a telecoil, which allows it to be used with other assistive listening devices.
Cost: $399 each or $799 a pair ($66 a month with 0% financing for 12 months)
The CORE is a Bluetooth-enabled “smart” hearing aid that automatically adapts to your environment and hearing needs. It also has four preprogrammed audio settings you can switch between either by pressing a button on the back of the device or more discreetly by using the smartphone app.
The CORE is MDHearingAid’s most technologically advanced model. It uses a smartphone app to customize and fine-tune your audio profiles. This is especially helpful for people with dexterity issues who find it difficult to toggle the tiny buttons on the hearing aids themselves. It’s also a plus for people who don’t want others to know they’re wearing a hearing aid.
Cost: $799 each or $1,599 a pair ($133 a month with 0% financing for 12 months)
Unlike many online hearing aid companies, MDHearingAid is well-known for its frequent sales, discounts, and perks. For example, you may be able to find a buy-one-get-one-free sale on the AIR and VOLT+ models, or a $600 discount on CORE hearing aids—depending on the current sales and discounts.
Coupon codes are occasionally available through affiliates for perks such as a free year’s supply of batteries with the purchase of a pair of hearing aids.
Although the Affordable Care Act expanded the coverage requirements for health insurance plans, hearing aids aren’t currently a mandated benefit. The good news is that many private insurance plans, including most Medicare Advantage plans, do cover some or all of the costs of hearing aids.
It’s important to note that as a company, MDHearingAid doesn’t file insurance claims on behalf of its customers. You have to pay for your hearing aids upfront and request reimbursement from your insurer. The company does at least provide the documentation you need to file a claim.
If you have a health savings account, you can pay for MDHearingAid devices with HSA funds. Under current rules, hearing aids are a qualifying expense for tax-advantaged HSA withdrawals.
Even if you’ve never bought health devices online, you’ll find the MDHearingAid buying process to be both intuitive and easy to navigate. The first step is an online hearing test, which you should take wearing headphones or earbuds for the most accurate results.
You must enter your name and email address before you can take the test. When the test is complete, your results are displayed on the page along with your audiogram and tips for interpreting it.
MDHearingAid has a team of medical professionals, including licensed audiologists and ear, nose, and throat specialists, on staff. These professionals are available to help you choose the best hearing aids based on your audiogram results and individual lifestyle.
All MDHearingAid models accommodate different types and sizes of tubing, domes, and tips to help you get the best fit. MDHearingAid devices are shipped with a ComfortTIP designed to follow the curve of your ear for a more custom-like fit. If the tip doesn’t work for you, you can easily replace it with a dome or mushroom-shaped tip or a custom-molded tip from a hearing center.
The AIR and PRO models come with threaded tubing that can be screwed off and on for cleaning. The VOLT+ and CORE have snap-on tubing. All hearing aids come with a user manual, a special cleaning tool, and a starter set of batteries. The VOLT+ comes with a power adapter, cord, and charging case. If you misplace your manual, printable versions are available online.
There is also a comprehensive troubleshooting section on the website with videos and FAQs. Phone and email support are available if you need help.
MDHearingAid offers a 45-day trial period. You can request a return merchandise authorization (RMA) for any reason during that time and receive a 100% refund. Without the RMA, the refund is capped at 80%. The company encourages consumers to wear the devices for a full 21 days to get acclimated to them before returning them, but this is not a requirement in order to get your refund.
The company only provides a 90-day limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. If the device malfunctions during the warranty period, you have to return it to the company for inspection. If they determine the failure is due to faulty materials or workmanship, the MDHearingAid will repair or replace the hearing aid for free.
If you want a longer warranty and protection against accidental damage, you can purchase a protection plan for a separate fee. The protection plan covers defects and malfunctions not related to materials or workmanship, as well as accidental damage. It does not cover the replacement of a lost device.
Our review process includes examining third-party review sites such as Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau. It’s helpful to know what actual customers say about MDHearingAid products. Here’s what we found:
MDHearingAid achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 3.5 out of 5.0 stars rating from consumers. Over the last three years, the company registered 27 complaints. Most complaints involved misunderstandings about the buy-one-get-one sale prices and exceptions to the warranty or protection plan. MDHearingAid responded promptly on the BBB website to each customer complaint.
On the Consumer Affairs website, MDHearingAid has a customer satisfaction rate of 4 out of 5 stars. While customer reviews were generally positive, a few reviews mentioned limitations in the audio profiles on the less expensive models.
Also noteworthy is the fact that a few reviewers mentioned having difficulty getting a comfortable fit. MDHearingAid’s website mentions that all models can be fitted with a custom earmold if the included tips and tubing aren’t satisfactory. Custom tips are available from online stores and independent hearing centers.
MDHearingAid manufactures devices that defy the adage “you get what you pay for.” Despite being the most economical hearing aids on the market, they deliver a level of technology and features found on hearing aids costing twice as much. For this reason alone, they deserve consideration if you or someone you love suffers from mild to moderate hearing loss.
Sheila Olson has over two decades of experience writing about Medicare, health, and personal finance. Her work has been featured on sites such as Investopedia, The Motley Fool, and Boomer Benefits. Sheila holds a MPH (Master of Public Health) from Northern Arizona University.