MDHearingAid claims to sell quality hearing aids at an affordable price, with three different models: AIR costs $399.99 a piece at the time of our research, while the PRO costs $199.99, thbe LUX $649.99, and the CORE $799.99. Buying two of any of the models will save you $40-$50, and all hearing aids include one free year of product protection.
What a deal, right? You can buy two of each hearing aid and still pay less than you would for the average price for typical hearing aids.
We wanted to know more about this affordable product, so we did some research on who they are, what types of hearing aids they offer, and what other people are saying about their products.
A 2014 article from AARP estimated that the average hearing aid costs the consumer $4,400, about as much as a week-long vacation for four to Jamaica. Forking over that much cash can be impossible for some folks.
Gathering up this information helps us make informed observations about whether or not a product like MDHearingAid is right for you. Even though these hearing aids are cheaper than the average device, they’re still going to cost you at least a few hundred dollars. We want to make sure that money is well spent!
Who is Behind MDHearingAid and What’s Their Story?
According to MDHearingAid’s website, they are based out of Chicago, IL, where founder Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, an ENT and plastic surgeon, developed an affordable hearing aid after testing numerous cheaply made devices.
A 2015 article in the Chicago Tribune highlighted Cherukuri and his new hearing aids, saying:
“Cherukuri found that some of his patients couldn’t fork over thousands of dollars for the hearing aids he had available, so he made a new one. Six years later, his direct-to-consumer company MDHearingAid has 22 employees, a manufacturing facility in Detroit [now located in Southfield, MI] and three options for hearing aids that cost less than $600.”
The company began production with the PRO, and then went on to launch their AIR, LUX, and CORE devices (more on those in a few minutes).
We wanted to know more about where the hearing aids were actually made, so we struck up a chat conversation with a customer service rep on the company’s website. We asked them where their hearing aids were made, and they said: in the United States.
When we pressed them for more information, they said that their hearing aids are actually packaged and shipped out of Chicago, and that each hearing aid is made up of multiple components made in other locations. The final assembly takes place in the United States, they said.
When we asked them where each of those parts were made, they say they didn’t know and told us their management would contact us. At the time of publication, we’d yet to hear back from MDHearingAid.
On another note, the Chicago business licensing division did have information on Cherukuri: he’s been licensed as a physician in the state since 2007 and he runs a plastic surgery practice in three different Indiana locations called “The Weekend Lift.” While he founded MDHearingAid, a representative advised that Dr. Cherukuri is no longer with the company.
What Types of Hearing Aids Can You Buy From This Company?
MDHearingAid offers three different digital products, which provide a noticeably higher quality sound than analog: the PRO, AIR, LUX, and CORE. The PRO is the base model, offering analog sound and no noise reduction or feedback suppression; the AIR, LUX, and CORE add noise reduction and feedback suppression. They’re all behind-the-ear aids, which means the sound processor (the big piece) goes behind your ear and a pliable plastic tube with an earbud goes in your ear.
How Good Are They?
Because we didn’t actually test them ourselves, when it comes to customer feedback for MDHearingAid’s products, we’ll defer to the opinions of people who’ve bought the product. But before we get there, we want to take a second to talk about the difference between these budget hearing aids and brand-name, more expensive ones.
In the Chicago Tribune article we referenced earlier, reporter Meg Graham spoke with some experts in the hearing-aid industry. One of those experts, Todd Ricketts, spoke at length about the process of finding the right hearing aid.
A lot of it has to do with customizations – every person with a hearing deficiency has their own unique mix of ear shape and situational difficulties.
Going to a professional to get fitted for a pricey hearing aid is a reliable choice, Ricketts said, if only because “they’ll evaluate the shape, geometry and size of ear. They’ll also evaluate listening needs: Where are you having problems? What types of situations?”
When you buy an MDHearingAid product, you’re skipping over the consultation part and buying what amounts to a plug-and-play style of product. Think of MDHearingAid’s devices like prescription glasses you buy at a supermarket: no consultation needed. You just pick the ones you like the best and you’re set. Will those glasses be a perfect fit with perfect magnification? The chances are slim.
The same principles apply to MDHearingAid and other hearing devices you buy through a website without a consultation. You have to go into the purchase knowing you aren’t getting a custom solution, just a general one (this is what’s known as direct-to-consumer).
But this is exactly the kind of consumer behavior that five national hearing-aid associations warned against in a recent joint statement. They acknowledged the growing direct-to-consumer market, but reiterated the importance of:
- A comprehensive hearing evaluation performed by a hearing health professional
- Being appropriately fitted by an individual licensed/registered in the state to dispense hearing aids
- Scheduling follow-up sessions with a professional to make sure the hearing aid fits well and is being used the right way
Based on our research, we think the best-case scenario is to buy hearing aids that fit you well and will last a long time. However, we know that not everyone is in the financial position to pay $4,400.
To Dr. Cherukuri’s credit, he told the Chicago Tribune that his product isn’t intended to be a perfect fit, but a solid alternative to more expensive devices.
What do you do if you can’t afford a hearing aid that’s customized for your ears? You look for a direct-to-consumer hearing aid that has a reliable reputation.
What are Other People Saying About MDHearingAid?
Since writing our original article, four HighYa readers provided feedback about their experiences with MDHearingAid, giving the company an average rating of about four stars.
Most compliments appeared to revolve around improved hearing (as well as traditional hearing aids, in some instances), quality components, and ultra-competitive price. The relatively few complaints related to less-than-stellar functionality and expensive replacement parts (specifically, the expendable ear tubes).
Outside of this, we didn’t encounter a whole lot of additional feedback, other than screenshots of Amazon reviews on MDHearingAid’s website from three and four years ago, when the PRO model was sold there.
Since we don’t know what kinds of changes the devices have received over the past few years, it’s hard to say if the old reviews accurately reflect the new product.
The company also had eight customer reviews and nine closed complaints on their Better Business Bureau page, as of 3/19/18. Only one complaint detail was available, which referenced having to pay return shipping for defective hearing aids. A company representative responded with a solution.
Our Conclusions: Take a Chance or Pass?
When we approach a direct-to-consumer product like MDHearingAid devices, we think it’s important that the consumer asks a few questions:
- Who makes them and what’s their story?
- What products do they sell and how well do they work?
- What are other people saying about them?
Getting these answers can help you get a pretty good idea of how reliable the company is and what you can expect from their products and customer service team.
From this perspective, based on what we learned during our research, MDHearingAid seems to come with mostly positive—although fairly limited—online customer feedback, along with ultra-competitive pricing compared to traditional hearing aids.
They also provide a 45-day refund policy on all purchases (you’ll have to wait at least 21 days for your brain to adjust before requesting one), which should represent more than enough time to figure out if they’re right for you.
It’s important to balance the positives with the fact that, according to the national hearing aid associations’ statements cited earlier, you’ll still want to involve a health professional in the process, including hearing evaluations, fittings, and follow-up sessions to maximize your success.
12 out 12 people found this review helpful
Good hearing aids
About four years ago I had worn a commercial set worth about $2000.00 for two years and had to send one back twice. After two years that one quit again. So I decided to try MD Hearing and bought the Pro model, their bottom line unit. Those units are still working, but I wanted a smaller size and would use the Pro when I was on the lake fishing. So I order the Air. When it came in, the left was not right. I called them and they said "you will get another one, we will send it out in the morning," and they did. I also sent the left one back to them.
That was two years ago and they are still working fine. I hear as good with both sets as I did with the brand named $2000.00 set. The only thing is their tubes are, I think, overpriced, but still the units are, in my opinion, a good buy for the money. So far customer service has been very good. I would buy again if something happens to these.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
15 out 15 people found this review helpful
Hearing aids okay, replacement bits EXPENSIVE
I was initially pleased to receive my MDHearingAid devices in 2016. Actually, I still like them.
Now comes the "BUT." The tubes and domes that are expendable and must be replaced seem outrageously expensive. Batteries can be purchased very reasonably at Walmart, and battery life is pretty good. For the needed health of your ears, though, these domes and tubes are very expensive. I am constantly looking for a better source. Nomenclature and sizes vary greatly. The size that fits me best (6 mm closed) is no longer available from them.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
17 out 17 people found this review helpful
Excellent, the MDHearingAids far exceed their price
I have worn MDHearingAids for 6 years. Initially, I had paid over $4,500 for another brand from a hearing aid dealer. The expensive aids never worked well for me, despite repeated trips to the dealer, and of course, the return time expired. The MDHearingAids were bought out of desperation, and the results were surprising to me. I could hear more clearly than with the expensive ones.
I have had two sets of hearing aids from MD, upgrading to the MD Air 3 years ago and am extremely happy with the aids which cost about 20% of the originals. Another plus, losing a hearing aid that costs $399 is easier to replace than a $2300 aid!
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
17 out 19 people found this review helpful
I have a "lux" model, and it's more garbage than lux. Why?
1. Poor fit in ears. (I phoned. The agent said to return the aids and they may be able to do something.)
2. There is a system of four different operating systems, which is the main reason I bought this. One of those four supposedly reduces the noise of surrounding sounds. Supposedly for each of the four systems, a voice comes on announcing which system I just picked. Well, the only sound was a faint tonal one, no speech that I could detect. The agent said they'd install a ring system (1-4 rings depending on which I picked. Fine with me).
3. No indication of which is for left and which for right ear except on the sleeve each is wrapped in. But once the aids are outside the sleeves I can't tell which is left or right. (The agent said to look on the tubing. I looked and looked. Nada. She said they'll check it.)
There were a few other, minor things. The agent said she'd have an email with a return label sent me. That was around noon today. It is now 6 pm. No email. I suspect this outfit is not honest. The sales agent and the customer support lady were friendly and most pleasant. I guess that's the window dressing.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend