These are the best Bluetooth hearing aids of 2024

It used to be that hearing aids required a visit to the doctor. These days, you can buy them over the counter. That’s great news for the millions of Americans who need or will need a little assistance hearing in their later years. Prior to the FDA’s 2022 ruling allowing hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter (OTC), with no prescription necessary, the only way to get hearing aids was via a hearing test and prescription, today you can buy hearing aids at Amazon, CVS and even QVC! Considering prescription hearing aids can cost close to three- to four-thousand per hearing aid, OTC options are not only a welcomed affordable alternative, they work incredibly well, if not as good as prescription hearing aids.

Hearing aids don’t just help you better hear the world around you; they help to lower the risk of cognitive decline in older adults with hearing impairment by a whopping 50%. Untreated hearing loss, however, increases the risk of depression and is linked to declines in physical activity. Unfortunately, Amanda Cooper, a licensed hearing aid specialist, tells us “The average individual waits seven to 10 years after they first notice hearing loss to take steps toward addressing their changes in hearing.” Hopefully, the improved accessibility to hearing aids will help bring that wait down substantially, which is the reason for this article: You can get hearing aids that work well, in a price range that is comfortable for your budget and all without a trip to the doctor!

The increased competition between prescription and OTC hearing aid makers has also turned the heat up on both sides of the fence to create the best hearing aids with the best, most advanced technology, including adding built-in Bluetooth capabilities that allow sounds from a device like your phone, Amazon Alexa, or TV to be delivered straight to your ear at a safe volume — in other words, you can easily stream music, answer calls and make calls via a simple tap on your ear.

While Bluetooth might be a relatively intuitive feature to use, choosing among the best Bluetooth hearing aids is no cakewalk. So rather than search high and low, we’ve rounded up a list that can help you find the best Bluetooth hearing aid for your specific needs, whether you have mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss.

If you’re looking for simply the best over-the-counter hearing aids, or the best hearing aids for seniors specifically, or even the best invisible hearing aids, check out our other guides.

Our top picks for the best Bluetooth hearing aids in 2024

Factors to consider when buying a Bluetooth hearing aid

Bluetooth streaming hearing aids come in prescription and over-the-counter options, and each offers choices of style and extra features. Before investing in a hearing aid, it’s important to have an evaluation by a professional to assess your needs, as well as making sure you don’t have any underlying conditions, says Dr. Michael Yong, an otolaryngologist and neurorhinologist.

Once you have a better understanding of your hearing loss and treatment plan, consider these factors:

Hearing aid styles: Hearing aids come in five main styles, and each has its own benefits.

Behind-the-ear (BTE): These hearing aids sit behind the ear and house both the speaker and microphone. They usually work for most types of hearing loss, and tend to be the most visible of all hearing aid styles.

Completely in canal (CIC): This hearing aid style is the most discreet. It fits inside the ear canal and can look nearly invisible. They’re usually best suited for people with mild to moderate hearing loss

In the canal (ITC): ITC hearing aids are usually custom-molded to your ear and fit partly in the ear canal. They tend to be even more hidden than ITEs.

In-the-ear (ITE): ITEs are usually custom-made to fit within the ear but just outside of the ear canal, so they are visible. Many report that these hearing aids are easier to handle and discreet.

Receiver in canal (RIC): These have a similar style to BTEs, but have a thin wire attached to the receiver or speaker that sits inside the ear canal. They’re often less visible than BTEs

Cost: The price of hearing aids ranges from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Some also come in a set, while others need to be purchased separately. Health insurance coverage can vary, making it important to consult your health insurance provider before investing in a hearing aid. Some insurance providers may cover some or all of a hearing aid cost. Some models may also be eligible as an FSA/HSA-approved expense. Just be mindful that things like batteries and accessories may increase the cost.

Prescription or OTC: Until 2022, all hearing aids in the U.S. required a prescription. Now, there are several OTC hearing aids available that rival in quality to prescription options. If you’re interested in a prescription model, you’ll need to have a medical evaluation and fitting with an audiologist. If you prefer an OTC model, you can purchase the aids directly through the maker or affiliated retailer. In most cases, OTC aids come in a set, while prescription aids are typically sold individually. OTC models are more suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss, while a prescription option is likely best if you have moderate to severe hearing loss.

Set-up: Set-up for your hearing aids will depend on whether you invest in a prescription or OTC hearing aid, as well as the model you choose. Prescription hearing aids need a professional fitting and calibration, although you’re often on your own for set-up with OTC models. This means features like calibration and settings will all be handled by you, though, as seen above, there are over-the-counter options that offer additional help for set-up, including remote programming and help from a hearing professional. If you’re unsure about your ability to set up hearing aids on your own, this is an element worth considering.

App pairing: Not every hearing aid pairs with an app, but most Bluetooth apps do. These companion apps often help with set-up, as well as allow you to customize settings, adjust the volume and tailor amplification from your phone.

Bluetooth capabilities: Bluetooth capabilities are a handy feature in a hearing aid. “We like to work with comfortable, rechargeable and bluetooth-compatible devices to give our patients the best experience,” Dr. Anish Thakkar, Director of Audiology at Los Angeles Center for Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy and Los Angeles Center for Hearing & Balance, tells Yahoo Life. There is a range with Bluetooth capabilities, though. Some will only sync up with certain phones, or just your phone. Others can stream music, and work with tablets, TVs and laptops. If you know how you plan to use your Bluetooth hearing aids in advance, make sure to look for products that are compatible.

Extra features: Additional features vary by model but can include things like directional microphones, nose cancellation, rechargeable batteries and extended battery life. Some even have relaxing modes that will pipe in soothing sounds, like the ocean. You also may want to look for things like trial periods and professional support.

How we chose

To find the best Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, we consulted with a series of audiologists, otolaryngologists, physicians and hearing-aid specialists to learn more about the nuances and factors to consider when shopping for one of these devices. We also researched the field and narrowed our list based on expert recommendations around set-up, sound quality, features and value.

FAQs

What is a Bluetooth hearing aid?

“Bluetooth is one of these new bells and whistles for hearing aids,” says Dr. Michael Yong, an otolaryngologist and neurorhinologist. “You can play music on it, take a telephone call…it’s much easier than putting your phone to your ear. It can be really helpful and augment your experience with using technology.” that all said, Bluetooth isn’t a standard feature in hearing aids, so it’s important to ensure that is a feature included in the hearing aids you choose.

To help you better understand what to look for in the best Bluetooth hearing aids, our team spoke with a panel of experts who specialize in hearing to learn what necessary features to look for in a hearing aid. We also explored what makes for a great Bluetooth-capable hearing aid, as well as any extras that may be nice to have but not mandatory. Finally, we investigated what features can make hearing aid use more seamless. From there, we researched the best OTC hearing aids and best prescription hearing aids on the market today, rating each on factors like setup process, ease of use, features offered and value.

How do Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids work?

Hearing aids with Bluetooth allow the hearing aids to connect with other devices that are Bluetooth enabled, explains Meaghan Reed, director of clinical audiology at Mass Eye and Ear. “This allows sounds to stream directly through the hearing aids,” she says. Bluetooth hearing aids can be paired with cellphones, tablets and computers that can send the sound from the device directly to the hearing aid. “This can include audio from phone calls but also music, videos or podcasts,” Reed says.

The benefit of Bluetooth is it sends the sound directly to the hearing aids. “Communicating on the telephone can be challenging and sometimes people can experience feedback — a whistling sound —when putting a phone to their ear near the hearing aid,” Reed says. “Wirelessly streaming sound from the phone to the hearing aid can improve the signal that people hear and reduce some side effects such as feedback.” It can also be easier to listen to the TV when it’s piped directly into the hearing aid, Yong says.

What’s the difference between OTC and prescription hearing aids?

There is a lot of overlap between OTC and prescription hearing aids, although there are some key differences. Prescription hearing aids have a higher level of customization and ongoing support, but they may cost more. They also require a fitting and evaluation by an audiologist. Over-the-counter hearing aids, by comparison, can be purchased and set up without the help of a professional. OTC hearing aids are also best for mild to moderate hearing loss, while prescription hearing aids are preferred for children and adults with moderate to severe hearing loss, Reed says.

How much do Bluetooth hearing aids cost?

The cost of hearing aids can vary widely depending on a multitude of factors, such as OTC or prescription, Bluetooth, rechargeable batteries vs replaceable batteries and technology. “OTC hearing aids range in price from about $200 to $2000,” Reed says. “Prescription hearing aids are typically more expensive, but it is very important to know that this is often because the services and expertise of the hearing healthcare professional who is involved in fitting and optimizing the hearing aids are a component of the cost of hearing aids.” When you bundle the cost of prescription hearing aids with the services, you’ll usually end up paying $2000 to $3000 per hearing aid, Reed says.

Does Medicare cover Bluetooth hearing aids?

Yong says Medicare does not traditionally cover hearing aids. “But some of the Medicare Advantage plans, depending on what you have, may cover some portion of the hearing aids,” he adds. Standard plans should, however, help cover the cost of diagnostics and screening.

How do I know if I need a Bluetooth hearing aid?

“The earlier hearing loss is detected and treated, the better,” says Cooper. If you are having trouble hearing, it’s important to have a professional hearing test done by an audiologist, Yong says. “There’s such a great prevalence of people who have hearing loss as they get older,” he says. If you’re having difficulty hearing, especially in social situations or conversations with background noise, it’s best to have an evaluation. “The only way to know is to see a doctor,” Yong says.

Are Bluetooth hearing aids easy to set up?

It depends on you. “Factors that influence this can include tech savviness, dexterity, vision, cognition and degree of hearing loss, to name a few,” Reed says. OTC hearing aids rely on the consumer to set them up, she points out. “Some OTC hearing aids have preset programs that an individual can select between and others are called self-fitting and often have a type of hearing test that can help program the hearing aids but may need connection to a phone or other device to run through the set-up,” Reed says. “This may require someone being comfortable with technology and pairing devices to their phones to manipulate.” Some OTC hearing aid manufacturers offer remote support or videos that can help, though. “Prescription hearing aids are often set up by the dispensing hearing healthcare professional, and so may be a better option for someone who is less comfortable with technology,” Reed says. If you’re struggling to manage your hearing aid, whether it’s prescription or OTC, Reed recommends contacting an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist for support.

Meet our experts

Meaghan Reed, director of clinical audiology at Mass Eye and Ear

Dr. Michael Yong, an otolaryngologist and neurorhinologist

Dr. Sreek Cherukuri, MD, board-certified ear, nose and throat physician

Amanda Cooper, licensed hearing aid specialist

Dave Fabry, PhD, chief hearing health officer, Starkey

Amy Sarow, Au.D., clinical audiologist and audiology lead at Soundly

Leigh Smith, Au.D., audiologist and owner of Florida Audiology Associates

Anish Thakkar, Au.D., director of audiology at Los Angeles Center for Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy

Dr. Carissa Wentland, DO, pediatric otolaryngologist

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