Before you buy a hearing aid, get a medical examination
Get the medical examination from an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) Specialist or your medical doctor.
The FDA requires a medical examination before hearing aids can be bought because some causes of hearing loss can be fixed with medicine or surgery. The FDA wants to be sure people really need a hearing aid. So the FDA says "it is in your best interest" to have a medical examination.
You can decide to skip the medical examination.
If you decide not to have a medical exam and are an adult (18 years old or older), sign a piece of paper called a Medical Examination Waiver before you buy hearing aids.
Where do you get the waiver? You can get the paper waiver form from the audiologist or hearing instrument dispenser who will sell you the hearing aids.
The audiologist or dispenser who will sell hearing aids to you cannot tell or encourage you to sign the medical examination waiver. If they do, file a complaint with the Minnesota State Health Department because it is illegal. They may be trying to get you to buy hearing aids that you do not need.
Who can sell hearing aids in Minnesota?
In Minnesota people can buy hearing aids only from professionals who have:
- Minnesota certificate to be a "hearing instrument dispenser" AND/OR
- Minnesota license to be an "audiologist."
How do I know if the hearing instrument dispenser is certified? Call (651) 201-3729 (Voice only).
Is the audiologist licensed? Call (651) 201-3729 (Voice only).
Are there complaints about the person selling hearing aids? Find out. Go to: Better Business Bureau (BBB) (external link)
Has the hearing instrument dispenser or audiologist been disciplined? Call the Department of Health at 651-201-3729 (voice only) to find out and to get a copy of any disciplinary action that has been taken.
You have the right to a copy of your audiogram.
If you had an audiogram to help you select a hearing aid, the audiologist or hearing instrument dispenser must give you a copy of the audiogram when you request it.
You don't have to purchase the hearing aids from the person that tested your hearing.
Minnesota law says you can order hearing aids from the person who tested your hearing, from a different audiologist, or from a hearing instrument dispenser.
Have everything said or promised about the hearing aids, warranties, etc, put into the contract. The law says that you have the right to request that this be done.
If you and the hearing aid seller agree to everything written in the contract, then you should sign your name on the contract. Then the hearing aid seller should also sign his/her name on the same contract. If both of your names are on the same contract, then the hearing aid seller must follow what they wrote in the contract. If they do not follow the contract, they can be sued.
Read the contract. Is there anything you do not like about the contract? The law says that if you do not like a contract, you do not need to sign it. You can talk to the person selling the hearing aids. Find out if they will change what you do not like. If not, then think of going to a different seller.
When you pick up your hearing aids the audiologist or the hearing instrument dispenser must give you three things:
- The User Instructional Booklet for the hearing instruments you are purchasing.
- Hearing aids that are marked permanently and clearly with the name of the company that made or distributed them, the model name or number, serial number, and the year the hearing aids were made.
- A written, 45 calendar day money-back guarantee.
Details about the 45 Calendar Day Money-Back Guarantee
You have 45 days on the calendar to try the hearing aids. Three things can happen during the 45 day period.
- If you like the hearing aids, then keep them.
- You may need to have your hearing aids fixed or changed. If you need to have the hearing aids changed or fixed, make an appointment to have the hearing aids fixed with the person who sold them to you. If you cannot meet with the person who sold you the hearing aids, then mail the hearing aids with a written letter to them (MNCDHH recommends that it be a certified letter). For every 24 hours you do not have the hearing aids because of repairs, another day is added to the 45 calendar days.
- You can return your hearing aids. If you do not want the hearing aids, you must return the hearing aids before the 45 days on the calendar are over. You must include a written letter that says that you want to stop the sale. The audiologist or hearing instrument dispenser has 30 calendar days to give the money back to you.
State law allows the audiologist or hearing instrument to keep up to $250 of the charge for the hearing aid if you cancel the contract and return the hearing aid in the 45 day guarantee period to them.
The $250 is to pay for the time the audiologist or dispenser worked trying to get the hearing aid to work for you. Talk to the hearing instrument dispenser or audiologist; he/she might be okay with giving you all your money back or keeping less than the $250 dollar cancellation fee. Remember, if the audiologist agrees to charge less or nothing at all, have the promise written in the contract.
Getting your old hearing aids back that you gave to the audiologist or a dispenser for a discount.
If you and the person selling you hearing aids agree, you may give him or her your old hearing aids. The dispenser or audiologist may then give you a reduced cost to buy your new hearing aids. (Remember to have this promise written into the contract.) If you decide to cancel the contract within the 45 day period and ask for your old hearing aids back, the hearing aid seller must give your old hearing aids back to you.
(MNCDHH would like to thank the generous help of the staff at the Health Occupations Program (Minnesota Department of Health) and the Hearing Instrument Dispenser Advisory Council for their hard work in helping MNCDHH create this website.)