Costco Hearing Aids | The GOOD, The BAD, & The UGLY

Costco Hearing Aids | The GOOD, The BAD, & The UGLY. Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and Founder of Applied Hearing Solutions, answers the question of “Are Costco Hearing Aids Good?”


There is no question that Costco Hearing Aids are popular, but I keep getting the same question, “Are Costco Hearing Aids Good?”, and I always respond by saying, “it depends on how good the Costco hearing care provider is at programming them, and if they follow best practices”.

However, we don’t have to speculate, I can actually show you how good the Best Costco Hearing Aids are, and if they are programmed well. There are two ways to determine if a hearing aid is programmed correctly.

1. Validation Questionnaires – These questionnaires allow us to obtain a patient’s perspective on how they are performing with their hearing aids. I personally like using the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids Questionnaire for individuals who already have hearing aids. Questionnaire Video:

2. Real Ear Measurement – This lets us measure the amplification output of the hearing aids to see if they meet a hearing loss prescription to ensure maximum audibility and speech intelligibility. REM Video:

To illustrate how good some Costco providers are at programming hearing aids, I’ll evaluate 3 separate hearing aid fittings of patients who have come into my clinic, and show you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Costco Hearing Aids.

The first patient scored a 30 out of 35 on the IOI-HA which suggests significant benefit from their current hearing devices. Real Ear Measurement illustrated a decent target match of the amplification to the patients Normal to Moderately-Severe Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Overall, I would consider this a GOOD hearing aid fitting. After some adjustments were made to the programming of their devices, they returned to complete a follow-up IOI-HA which increased from a 30 to 34 out of 35 points which is phenomenal.

The second patient scored a 19 out of 35 points on the IOI-HA which suggest poor benefit from their current Costco Hearing Aids. Real Ear Measurement illustrated a poor prescriptive target match of hearing aid amplification, as none of the prescription was being met for a Mild to Moderately-Severe hearing loss. Overall, I would consider this a BAD hearing aid fitting. Fortunately, this patient was fit with unlocked Costco Hearing Aids so they could be reprogrammed. After reprogramming and the completion of the IOI-HA several weeks later, the patient scored a 32 out of 35 total points.

The third patient scored a 9 our of 35 points on the IOI-HA which indicates almost NO BENEFIT with hearing aids. The Real Ear Measurement was so far off of the prescriptive targets for a Moderate Conductive Hearing Loss that one would have to assume that either the Costco Hearing Aid Provider either didn’t perform Real Ear Measurement, or they didn’t know what they were doing. This let to over a year of frustration and poor hearing due to a lack of competency. To add insult to injury, this patient was fit with Locked Costco Hearing Aids that do not allow for reprogramming outside of Costco. Fortunately, this patient agreed to be fit with new hearing aids that were properly programmed for their hearing loss. After several weeks, this patient returned to complete the IOI-HA and increase their score from a 9 to a Perfect 35 of 35. Indicating significant benefit from their new hearing aids.

I don’t share these case studies to discourage anyone from treating their hearing loss at Costco. I share these case studies to prove that even with good hearing aids, the way those hearing aids are programmed will determine how much benefit you receive. So if you don’t have a hearing care provider who can maximize your benefit, I highly recommend you find a provider that can.


Jim Davis says:

So are you using Resound real Ear. And what hearings Aid Manufacture Software do you use to program Cosco Thanks.

Severus Snape says:

Hey Dr. Cliff! Would you make a video on RSHL and the hearing aids that might work best?

Happy TX says:

For me the type is tip and the way tip fits in my ear makes a huge difference. I think the the tubes and tips are an under estimated part of the hearing aid satisfaction. Thanks

James Eubanks says:

Also a great example of why I will never buy a locked hearing aid. Thanks, Dr. Cliff!

Lance mccall says:

When looking at the phonak software and seeing where the auto line is in comparison. Is real ear measures testing still needed IF given I see that the auto program slope is right on the slope with my RX?

Trey Kiessling says:

Do you charge to refit clients that have purchased aids somewhere else other than you? If so, what’s a fair price to charge people to do so?

Jim Cole says:

Great video, Cliff. It sure highlights the importance of the provider!

Ryan Langson says:

Great Video, your production is really great.

ken Johnson says:

THANK YOU FOR YOUR EXCELLENT VIDEO! I am looking to replace three year old ‘AIDS’. Eargo “s latest model is called nero! with there latest tceh! the biggest drawback from perchacing them is seeing a lot of negative customer replies about there other aids having to be replaced after a short time. could you inform us about this product, cliff. before we might make a 2’500 or more dollor mistake? they are recharbles with a battery charging life of approximately two and a half to three years. thank you cliff olsen…

John Boardman says:

Another honest survey! Thank you for this information. So… How can we clone you for service around the country?

linda harrington says:

FYI I got a non-Costco audiologist request of $1000@ to program my old Widex hearing aids (I declined) and another non-Costco audiologist quote of $150 total only to arrive, complete a hearing test and then be told that my Widex Flash aids could not have the programming adjusted for my current needs because they were too old a model. How long can one expect to have programming changes available. For the initial $5000 cost in 2009 I expected a longer life for the devices.

Stanislaus Ting says:

IOI-HA Publication Journal of American Academy of Audiology Vol 14. No 8. 2003 Page 403-413 Author Robyn M Cox et al showed 8 categories with a total score of 40. My question is why you are using only 7 categories with maximum score of 35?

Jason Gordon says:

Great clip, I enjoy viewing your vids. Two questions: did you charge the CostCo client for reprogramming their CostCo aids? I don’t want to know how much, that is your business. Also, what prescription do you typically use/like best? Thanks!

Bruce Margolis says:

Great Info!

Alan Rogers says:

Thanks for another great video, Dr. Cliff. Which Costco hearing aids are “locked?” Many thanks!!!

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