Costco Hearing Aids | The GOOD, The BAD, & The UGLY

– In this video, I’m gonna
show you if hearing aids from Costco are any good, comin’ up. (upbeat music) Hi guys, Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and founder of Applied Hearing
Solutions in Anthem, Arizona and on this channel I cover a bunch of hearing-related information to help make you a better informed consumer. So if you’re into that, make sure you hit that subscribe button. And don’t forget to click the bell to receive a notification
every time I post a new video. Everyone always asks me if
Costco hearing aids are any good and my response to them
is always the same. It really depends on if
the hearing care provider who works at that Costco programs those hearing aids correctly and if they follow best practices. You see, it doesn’t matter
how good your hearing aids are if those hearing aids
haven’t been programmed correctly to your hearing loss prescription. And one of the main ways that you program a hearing aid correctly is
to use Real Ear Measurement. Now, the fortunate thing is is
that Costco actually mandates that their hearing care providers
use Real Ear Measurement. But making sure that they use it, and making sure that they use it well, are two completely different things. Now, every week I get
patients who come into my clinic who got their
hearing aids at Costco and so I’m gonna show you a good, a bad and an ugly fitting by a
Costco hearing care provider. When I’m evaluating to see
how well hearing devices are programmed I do two main things. The first one is is I
have a patient fill out a subjective questionnaire to see how much perceived benefit they’re getting from their hearing aids. If someone has hearing aids already, I have them complete the
International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids which is
also know as the IOI-HA. When evaluating hearing aid
performance with the IOI-HA, I like to give each column a point value. Since the scores on the right hand side indicate significant
benefit with hearing aids, I give boxes in that
column a value of five. The scores on the left hand side indicate almost no benefit with hearing aids and I give boxes on that
side a score of one. The higher the total overall score, the more benefit a patient is receiving from their hearing aids. The lowest score is a seven, and the highest score possible is a 35. Second, I perform Real Ear Measurement to objectively measure whether or not these patients’ hearing aids
have been programmed correctly to their hearing loss prescription. What this will show me is whether or not they’re getting the right
amount of amplification at each frequency for their
particular type of hearing loss. Now, if you’d like to learn more about these outcome measures, I will have videos linked
in the description. So using these two forms of evaluation, let’s go ahead and check
out the first patient. For simplicity, we will only be focusing on one hearing aid per patient. For this patient, their
audiogram indicates a normal, sloping to moderately severe high frequency sensorineural hearing loss. As we calculate the score for their perceived hearing ability using the IOI-HA with their Costco
hearing aids programmed by a Costco hearing care provider, we can see that they scored
their performance favorably. Overall, they ranked their
performance as a 30 out of 35. When we look at how the hearing aids were programmed using
Real Ear Measurement, we are looking to see if their hearing aid amplification matches the prescription for their hearing loss. The pink hash mark line indicates the prescription of amplification for this patient’s normal sloping to moderately severe hearing loss and the solid pink line indicates where the haring aids are programmed in relation to their prescription. Ideally, we would want these lines to overlap as closely as possible. As you can see, there are a few spots that are under-amplified
and over-amplified, but in general the Costco provider did a decent job of programming
this hearing aid which is why this particular
patient reported good overall benefit from their devices. Overall, this is what I would consider to be a good Costco hearing aid fitting. Now if a patient’s Costco
hearing aids aren’t locked to where they can only go to
another Costco for programming, I will typically go in to the
software and reprogram them to match their prescriptive
targets as closely as possible, and adjust any special features of the hearing aids to
maximize overall benefit. In this screenshot, the
purple line indicates the output of the hearing aid after a reprogramming of this
patient’s Costco hearing aid. This is about as close as you’ll ever see a hearing aid output curve get to a prescriptive hearing loss target. Here is an overlap comparison
of the Costco programming to the new programming that
I made for this patient. After turning this patient
loose for several weeks, I had them come back to complete another IOI-HA questionnaire to see if they saw any improvement, and they improved their score by four points from a 30 to 34 out of 35. Alright, now let’s check
out the second patient. This patient has a mild sloping to moderately severe high frequency sensorineural hearing loss. As we calculate their score
from the IOA-HA questionnaire, we see that they scored
only a 19 out of 35, which would indicate
poor perceived benefit with their Costco hearing aids. When we check out how
well their hearing aids are programmed, we can clearly see that they were not programmed very close to their hearing loss prescription. As you can see, this
patient was significantly under-amplified in the high frequencies, which are critical for
improved speech clarity. A score of 19 on the
IOI-HA is not surprising, considering the programming
of this hearing aid. Overall, I would classify this as a bad Costco hearing aid fitting. Fortunately, this patient’s
Costco hearings aids were not locked and I was able
to adjust the programming. I wasn’t able to match
the prescriptive target beyond 3,000 hertz with
this Costco device, but as you can see, compared
to the Costco programming, we are much closer to the rest of this patient’s hearing
loss prescription. After adjusting the amplification and the special features
of their hearing aids, this patient came back after several weeks to redo the IOI-HA questionnaire, which indicated a 13 point
perceived improvement, from a score of 19 to 32,
out of a total 35 points, with their properly programmed
Costco hearing aids. And last but not least, let’s go ahead and check out the third patient’s Costco fitting. This patient has a flat,
moderate conductive hearing loss. A conductive hearing
loss can be identified by seeing a gap between the brackets which indicate the hearing
sensitivity of the hearing organ, the cochlea itself and the Xs, which indicate the hearing sensitivity once sound has to pass from the outer ear through the middle ear, all
the way into the inner ear. Conductive hearing losses
can be tricky to fit with hearing aids if you
don’t know that you’re doing. According to the IOI-HA for this patient, they scored their perceived performance with their Costco hearing
aids as a 9 out of 35. Let me repeat that in case you missed it, they scored only a 9 out of 35. It doesn’t take us long
to realize why they scored their performance so poorly when we look at their Real Ear
Measurement of their programming. This has to be one of the
worst hearing aid fittings that I have ever measured in my office and this tells me one of two things, either the Costco hearing care provider did not perform Real
Ear Measurement at all, or they actually had no clue
how to use the equipment to program these hearing
devices correctly. Either way, as a result this patient went over a year wondering why
they were not perceiving any benefit with their hearing aids. This is what I call a ugly
Costco hearing aid fitting. To add insult to injury, this patient had purchased
locked Costco hearing aids that don’t allow me to
make adjustments on them, even though the devices
were probably capable of being programmed correctly. Fortunately, this patient
somehow trusted me to fit them with a new set of devices that I was able to program to their hearing loss prescription,
which you can see here. Here is a comparison between their Costco hearing aid programming with their Costco hearing aid, and their new hearing aid programming with a new hearing aid. Other than the little dip at 4,000 hertz, I was able to match the prescription out to about 7,000 hertz. After several weeks of this patient using their new, properly
programmed hearing aids, they came back to complete the IOI-HA and scored their performance
with their hearing aids a perfect 35 out of 35. Alright guys, so there’s
the answer to your question on if Costco hearing aids are any good? As you can see, each one of these patients had hearing aids from Costco
that were actually capable of treating their hearing
loss and treating it well. It just came down to if
those hearing devices were programmed correctly for
those individual patients. Now, I’m not saying that
Costco hearing care providers are inherently not good at
programming hearing devices, I’m saying that in the
hearing care industry, in general, it just really depends on if the hearing care provider that you work with is capable of treating your hearing loss correctly with whatever devices they recommend for you. So, if you end up finding yourself with a hearing care
provider that is not getting you benefit with your hearing aids, you need to make sure
you find one that does. That’s it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. If you liked the video, please share it and if you wanna see other
videos just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. I’ll see ya next time. (upbeat music)

45 thoughts on “Costco Hearing Aids | The GOOD, The BAD, & The UGLY

  1. When looking at the phonak software and seeing where the auto line is in comparison. Is real ear measures testing still needed IF given I see that the auto program slope is right on the slope with my RX?

  2. FYI I got a non-Costco audiologist request of [email protected] to program my old Widex hearing aids (I declined) and another non-Costco audiologist quote of $150 total only to arrive, complete a hearing test and then be told that my Widex Flash aids could not have the programming adjusted for my current needs because they were too old a model. How long can one expect to have programming changes available. For the initial $5000 cost in 2009 I expected a longer life for the devices.

  3. Great clip, I enjoy viewing your vids. Two questions: did you charge the CostCo client for reprogramming their CostCo aids? I don't want to know how much, that is your business. Also, what prescription do you typically use/like best? Thanks!

  4. Do you charge to refit clients that have purchased aids somewhere else other than you? If so, what’s a fair price to charge people to do so?

  5. For me the type is tip and the way tip fits in my ear makes a huge difference. I think the the tubes and tips are an under estimated part of the hearing aid satisfaction. Thanks

  6. IOI-HA Publication Journal of American Academy of Audiology Vol 14. No 8. 2003 Page 403-413 Author Robyn M Cox et al showed 8 categories with a total score of 40. My question is why you are using only 7 categories with maximum score of 35?

  7. THANK YOU FOR YOUR EXCELLENT VIDEO! I am looking to replace three year old 'AIDS'. Eargo "s latest model is called nero! with there latest tceh! the biggest drawback from perchacing them is seeing a lot of negative customer replies about there other aids having to be replaced after a short time. could you inform us about this product, cliff. before we might make a 2'500 or more dollor mistake? they are recharbles with a battery charging life of approximately two and a half to three years. thank you cliff olsen…

  8. The guy I got at Costco when I went in to be tested just held a magazine up to his mouth and asked if I could understand him. I could and he told me actual testing wouldn't tell him any more. A few months later I met someone who worked at another Costco and told them the story. I couple days later I got a call from the regional supervisor. I have to give them credit for that. By that time I had gone to another 'real' audiologist who found high end loss which I know was true because at age 50 I got tested for a baseline. I had slight loss then but now it is more. I have been happy with my aids for 3 years.

  9. I am in Australia and have been to 2 different Costcos, visiting with 4 audiologists over the years. In each case I was shown the graphs of my hearing loss and the hearing aid responses and they looked pretty good against each other. Don't the US Costcos do that? Don't US customers ask to see it? My Costco aids work well but I do not use them all the time because I do not like the molds in my ears, and I have never liked ear plugs either, but the hearing improvement is very noticeable when I wear them. Methinks this is not a totally unbiased 'report' since there are probably dodgy 'independent' audiologists also, although it states the hearing aid is only as good as the 'fitting'.

  10. bought Costco aids when I thought my phonak died. BAD MISTAKE paid 1000 dollars for a piece of crap. Very short battery life and "filters" do not last 1-2 days before plugging . Bought from Christian in Costco store in b"ham alabama .THANX for nothing Christain! rex s.

  11. If you perform REM and set the HAs to Target and the patient is complaining about the Amplification being to loud you turn the HAs down so the Patient is comfortable especially if counseling is not working if the patient can not hear properly it may be because they never returned for F/U you need more context before you can claim a provider went astray

  12. Dr. Cliff,
    As a dispenser at Costco, I often appreciate your insight into the world of hearing aids (loved your review of the QUATTRO!). I do agree that there are some very poor dispensers out there. I get very frustrated at colleagues who run REM just for the sake of running them but don't actually make any changes. No amount of education about REM seems to change their minds. I came up through a prominent, nation-wide company and was trained almost entirely by audiologists. REMs were very important to us. I certainly don't claim to know as much as they do, but I can fit a mean hearing aid! I always take pride in patient care, education/counseling, using APHAB or similar, and fitting the hearing aids to target; but I do agree with another comment that when someone comes in to your office, you don't really know what happened on the Costco side, you only know when the patient tells you. As you know, there are plenty of people who would return hearing aids (for several reasons) fit to target. As you also probably know, only about 25-30% of Audiologists in the US utilize real ear measurements. That also means there are plenty of professionals outside of Costco not maximizing the benefit of hearing aids for their patient. I have seen both good and bad dispensers as well as audiologists. I know that Costco's goal is to have each and every one of us provide the best care we possibly can, and we have protocols in place to ensure this; unfortunately, there are always a few bad hearing health providers (in and out of Costco) that can spoil one's good name. And there are always a few patients out there that you will never please no matter what you do! Haha. Thanks for your reviews Dr. Cliff, I look forward to seeing more of them.

  13. I really appreciate your perspective and showing the amplification guidelines from Costco hearing aids. It shows me that there is a big difference between the Audiology office I work with and Costco. With Costco, it looks like everything drops off after 3k. I've seen patients struggle in background noise with this type of fitting. The graphs look a lot like older technology that is less adaptable and doesn't fit the loss like a glove…. I also have fixed so many mistakes other dispensers have made with conductive loss. Education is the best way to guide a patient into making the best decision. Thank you!

  14. I would say there are good and bad practitioners in every modality of healthcare.. I'd gamble to say Costco far surpasses any retailer out there for adhering to the "gold standard" of REM fittings. Costco also provides state of the art fitting equipment to ensure REM has accuracy. My advise to anyone wondering out there would be to get your hearing aids at Costco and if you're not happy there's a 6 month trial with 100% money back guarantee.. nobody offers that in the industry.. so if the result isn't ideal try another REM adjustment or pick another Costco and/or specialist.. if it's good, well you just saved yourself $3-4,000 dollars vs dropping $6,000-$8,000 with an audiologist clinic or retailer.. just go to Costco and give it a try for yourself.. period..

  15. Hi Dr. Cliff…thanks for the informative video. I'm wondering why programming isn't automatic? Isn't it just a matter of reversing the patient's hearing loss curve? Of course I don't know anything about it, so I'm sure I'm missing something. Also, I think when folks ask "are Costco hearing aids any good", they are referring to the actual Costco branded hardware (they sell other brands as well), so the answer to that question is simply yes (though of course the issue of programming is hugely important…so thanks for covering that). I also wonder how Costco's average programming compares to retail outlets? Meaning…is Costco the same/better/worse? Because the worst thing for a consumer is to pay $4000 – $6000 for hearing aids at a retail outlet AND get bad/locked programming…at least with Costco, the prices are much much lower (plus free 6-month trial, free damage/loss insurance, etc). Finally, I've been pretty much a lifetime Costco member…I believe in their quality/prices 100%…plus, they stand behind their products…no questions asked…so worst case scenario, all a person would lose is some of their time.

  16. costco has 2 different devices. there is $1000 dollars difference between the 2. Which device are you testing. A Kirkland device or the high prices ones?

  17. How do I check whether or not if my hearing aid provider (not Cosco) actually did a Real Ear Measurement, or not?

  18. I am looking for a great hearing specialist in Idaho . Hope you can help me. I have lost my low tone

  19. I've been to two audiologists last week in South Jersey. Well known companies with lots of commercials on TV.
    Sales people, that's all they are, with none to very little concern for the predicament their customer is in. It's disgusting.

  20. I am an engineer, and was impressed by the equipment Costco used, and attention to detail the provider showed. My improvement was significant, especially on the ear with conductive hearing loss.

  21. I would say that the comments presented in this video apply to ALL hearing aid centers, and not just Costco. When I initially sought out a hearing aid after consulting an ENT, I settled upon Miracle Ear. My experiences were very poor, as this doctor suggests. I suffered with a poor programming until finally convincing the new specialist to reprogram them. This new specialist reprogrammed, but I felt the experience was even worse. Now that my medical insurance allows for another hearing aid, I visited Costco and had a wonderful visit. The specialist performed another hearing exam, which was more complex than Miracle Ears. They programmed a sample hearing aid on the spot and allowed me to wear it in the store while shopping. The difference was immediately noticeable!! I could hear MUCH better and understand speech so well! So the bottomline, is any hearing aid provider can provide crappy service or programming.

  22. I have worn hearing aids since the 1980's. My first pair was prescribed by an audiologist associated with an ENT and worked fine. Due to a geographic relocation, when those aids reached the end of usefulness, I chose an "independent audiologist" for my next pair, which worked fine. Years later, when those began to show their age, I went back to that same "independent audiologist" and found out that "independent audiologist" is the semantic equivalent of "used car salesman". After an unpleasant process of trying to get information about the aids she wanted to sell me, we parted "business company", and I went to Costco. I found the Costco experience to be FAR more professional and knowledgeable that. I had had my hearing curves generated by a second audiologist and took those to Costco. They re-ran the test, checked the two sets of curves, and programmed my aids accordingly. In future, I will see only audiologists associated with ENT's, and continue to buy the aids at Costco.

  23. I just went to the Costco here in Huntsville, AL. I had 2 demos with 2 different devices, and have settled on the ones I wanted to purchase. I am a new hearing aid wearer, I appreciate this site and will report back what I experience. I am glad to learn what it meant by "locked" devices, and will be sure to ask about that when I go in to pick them up.

  24. I have Costco, in the ear bud, hearing aids that are 6 years old now, and one is dead and the other nearly there. I went to 3 different companies who sent me advertising flyers and got tested and quoted 8K, 7K, and 6K for the prices for the behind the ear device with the little tube that goes into the ear. None of the testers were audiologists, but called Hearing Instrument Specialists. Should I go to an audiologist to get tested, then take the results with me to the companies I visit? How important is it to go to a company who fits you using an audiologist? Are these H.I.S. good enough to get the job done right, as Dr. Cliff would do?

  25. Hi Dr Cliff, I live in the UK and have recently had hearing aids fitted. I am happy with the improvment to my hearing (my wife doesn't have to repeat herself all the time) my one dissapointment is in sreaming music to them ( they are resound No2 on your best list) is it possible for music quality to get close to earphone quality?

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