Q: Why is an audiologist preferred?
A: At Microtone, we have three full time Doctors of Audiology and one hearing aid dispenser. Audiologists complete an undergraduate as well as Masters or Doctorate level degree in Audiology and a supervised clinical fellowship program prior to obtaining state licensure and national certification. Audiologists are trained in the anatomy and physiology of the hearing and balance systems, amplification devices (hearing aids), cochlear implants, electrophysiology, acoustics, and auditory rehabilitation. In regards to hearing aids, audiologists receive extensive training in the assessment of hearing loss, diagnosis of hearing pathologies, and the fitting, programming and adjustment of hearing aids. This helps to ensure:
- An accurate diagnosis
- An appropriate treatment plan for intervention and appropriate referrals to physicians
- A positive outcome and benefit from the hearing aid experience
A hearing aid dispenser, on the other hand, is licensed to perform audiometric testing for the sole purpose of selling and fitting hearing aids. In order to obtain a license, hearing aid dispensers are required to pass both written and practical exams. In many states, including California, hearing aid dispensers are only required to have a high school diploma. The common requirement for state licensure to dispense hearing aids is based on the need to protect the health, safety and welfare of patients.
Q: What are other services provided by Microtone?
A: Hearing aid dispensing is one part of the services provided at Microtone. Other services that we offer include: comprehensive hearing evaluations for both adult and pediatric populations, tinnitus evaluation and consultation, aural rehabilitation, balance function testing, as well as hearing conservation, custom ear protection and assistive-listening device dispensing. Microtone Audiology offers the most advanced diagnostic testing and treatment options currently available, while utilizing the most advanced state-of-the-art equipment. Please refer to our “professional services” page for the detailed description of the services.
Q: How may the process of hearing aid fitting at Microtone be different from others?
A: At Microtone Audiology, programming hearing aids means objectively verifying that the hearing aids provide our patients with sufficient audibility and subjectively validating the benefits they receive from using the hearing aids.
Because every human being has unique features, the size and the shape of an individual’s ear canal plays an essential role in the hearing aid fitting. The gold-standard of hearing aid fitting includes a technique called “Real-Ear Measurement”. Real-Ear Measurements utilize tiny microphones to allow us to measure what the hearing aid is delivering to the eardrum, taking into account the acoustic properties of the individual’s outer ear and ear canal. Without this measurement, there is no way to know whether a hearing aid is providing sufficient audibility across the frequencies where you have hearing loss. Why risk spending thousands of dollars on hearing aids that may not be programmed correctly?
Following the fitting appointment, we follow up with our patients every one or two weeks until they have mastered all the skills needed to handle their hearing aids. If patients are dissatisfied with their hearing aid(s), we encourage them (within the first 30 days) to either try something different, or allow us to make the necessary physical or acoustic adjustments. Since we carry multiple manufacturers and all available styles, we may opt to make a change for our new patients. Once patients are happy with the sound quality and the physical fit of the hearing aids, we see patients regularly every 3-4 months to clean or adjust their hearing aids at no extra charge…a service that continues for the life of the hearing aids.
Q: How many different hearing aid manufacturers do you work with? How do I know which one is right for me?
A: At Microtone, we offer a full range of digital and programmable hearing amplification to meet your individual needs and budget. We work with the best hearing aid manufacturers on the market today, including Widex, Starkey, Oticon, Phonak, GN Resound and Siemens. Each company offers different features and different signal processing algorithms to help you hear best for the different listening situations your lifestyle requires. During the complementary hearing aid consultation, an audiologist will recommend the hearing aid style, manufacturer, and level of technology based on the configuration and degree of your hearing loss, listening needs, cosmetic concerns, and your budget. If you are not satisfied with the level of benefit you are receiving from the hearing aids, we recommended you try another style or manufacturer, or return the hearing aids for a full refund within the first 30 day of trial. At Microtone, we can find the best hearing solution for almost any degree of hearing impairment.
Q: Will my insurance cover the cost of the hearing aids? If not, what financing options are available?
A: Approximately 20-30% of all insurance cover hearing aids. Some cover in full, while some cover a partial cost. Medicare and most insurance plans cover comprehensive hearing exams but not hearing aids. Microtone offers financing options for hearing aids through Care Credit or Wells Fargo financing upon qualification. Both offer interest-free, low monthly payment plans for healthcare procedures, including hearing aids. Call us at Microtone Audiology, and we will let you know if your insurance carries a benefit for the purchase of hearing aids and help you find a way to get the hearing aids you need.
Below is a list of the main insurance plans we accept:
- Adventist Health
- Adventist Risk Management
- Blue Cross
- Blue Shield
- City and County of San Francisco
- Pers Care
- Pers Choice
- U.S. Department of Labor
* Kaiser members are welcome. We also accept many other insurance plans as well call or email for more details.
**We also work with several Workers Compensation programs for patients who have or are pursuing claims regarding occupational hearing loss.