Have you put off buying a hearing aid? In Consumer Reports’ most recent survey of readers with hearing problems, 71 percent who bought hearing aids said they delayed doing so for two years or longer, most often because of high hearing-aid costs.

Readers who did purchase hearing aids told us they spent an average of $2,710 out of pocket, and 16 percent shelled out $5,000 or more.

If you’re considering a hearing aid but want to cut your costs, follow these steps:

1. Investigate Your Coverage
Veterans Affairs offers hearing aids for veterans. Some children, federal workers, and residents of Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island can get them covered by health insurance.

Some plans, including almost half of those from Medicare Advantage, offer at least partial coverage.

About 37 percent of our survey respondents said they saved some money through private health insurance plans.

Some insurance plans may also offer disounts. For example, Aetna members can purchase aids at a discount through certain suppliers.

If you have a health savings or flexible spending account, you can use it to pay for hearing aids and batteries with pretax dollars.

2. Shop Around
See what hearing aids cost at different retailers. Costco, which was highly rated for customer satisfaction in our survey, offers no-cost screenings at some stores and hearing aids for about $500 to $1,500 each.

Buying aids online can save you as much as $2,000 per pair, but you may need to mail them back for adjustments or pay a local specialist to adjust them.

And remember, it’s wise to see a doctor or audiologist first to determine your hearing needs and rule out other medical concerns.

Some people also see buying preowned aids as a way to save money.

But refitting and reprogramming them can cost as much as buying new ones, and it isn’t always successful, says Stephanie J. Sjoblad, Au.D., an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “The audiologist might have to spend a lot of time making a preowned device fit your needs,” she notes.

3. Don’t Buy More Hearing Aid Than You Need
When you see an audiologist, discuss your biggest hearing challenges—note whether it's background noise in restaurants, for example, or phone conversations. That will help determine the best device for you.

Try on models to see what feels comfortable. Then get hearing aid prices, and find out the length of the warranty and money-back trial period, which can vary widely. Skipping extras you don't think you'll use—such as Bluetooth capability—can slash your hearing aid costs by hundreds of dollars.

Some people with mild to moderate hearing loss may benefit from over-the-counter hearing helpers, such as personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs.



4. Ask for a Price Break
Almost half of the survey respondents who tried to negotiate received a lower price.

Ask whether the audiologist will “unbundle” or separate the cost of a hearing aid from fees for fittings and other services. Not all will, but “it makes the cost more transparent,” says Neil DiSarno, Ph.D., chief staff officer for audiology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

That may help you negotiate a discount.

5. Check Out Groups That Can Help
Some government, state, and independent organizations, such as Lions Clubs, may help you pay for aids or offer discounts that will reduce your hearing aid costs. (Go to asha.org for a list or see this guide compiled by the Better Hearing Institute (PDF).)

Finally, check our hearing-aid buying guide and brand and retailer ratings.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the March 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.