Since many “medical” products are now accessible online — like dental braces, glasses, and orthotics — it was only a matter of time before hearing devices were also made available to purchase without a prescription from a professional.

Lively has recently arrived on the hearing aid market with hearing packages that include high-tech devices and telehealth support from qualified audiologists. But how well do they treat a hearing loss?

Working through what they offer, we outline the pros and cons of Lively hearing aids below and compare them to hearing aids you might invest in with House of Hearing.

There are differences in the:

  1. Hearing test
  2. Range of choices
  3. Level of professional care – fitting and programming procedures
  4. Local business presence
  5. Warranties
  6. Hearing package details and insurance
  7. Accessibility to support
  8. Refunds
  9. Long-term care

Let’s find out if these hearing aids that are tested and adjusted online live up to their promise.

1.   The Hearing Test

There is a huge difference between a comprehensive hearing assessment done by a hearing care expert in person and an online hearing test by Lively.

An online hearing test by Lively really only has one purpose: to determine the severity of one’s hearing loss (or lack thereof if hearing is normal).

Lively doesn’t even require you to get a professional hearing assessment; they just ask you to sign a waiver to confirm that you have chosen to not get an in-person hearing test at all.

On the other hand, a comprehensive hearing assessment not only provides information regarding the severity of one’s hearing loss, but it also involves:

  1. Gathering relevant case history
  2. Analyzing the function of various structures inside the outer, middle, and inner ear
  3. Determining the underlying cause of the hearing loss and ruling out the possibility of any medical conditions

If we suspect a medical condition is causing the hearing loss, we partner with expert ENT specialists and a neurologist to make sure you get the best referrals for medical care possible.

Our big concern: A life-threatening medical condition could be missed.

You might not have a hearing loss at all and just need the earwax buildup cleaned out. There’s nothing worse than wasting money, time, and effort on something you didn’t need and also potentially causing a major risk to your health.

2. Range of Choices

We offer a variety of types and styles of hearing aids, ranging from extremely small and discreet (even invisible) devices that sit directly in the ear to devices that sit behind the ear.

The latter can still be very small and discreet, or they may be a little larger and more visible if someone needs more power for a more severe hearing loss. Some patients prefer a large hearing aid because they need something that is easier to handle and harder to lose.

It’s also important to have a wide range of features because there is no single hearing aid that is the right option for everyone. For example, you might want a hearing aid with tinnitus management or TV streaming built into the hearing aid.

Lively hearing aids are cheaper in part because they have fewer features.

Which hearing aid is right for you depends on your unique hearing loss, lifestyle, preferences, and budget.

Lively only offers two types of hearing aid:

  1. A behind-the-ear model that comes as a battery-operated (LiNX 3D 5/Lively 2 Lite) or rechargeable (LiNX Quattro 5/Lively 2 Plus) hearing aid
  2. A behind-the-ear model (Lively 2 Pro) with more advanced technology

Neither of these models is sufficiently able to treat a severe hearing loss.

Our concerns: Your Lively hearing aid might not be as discreet as you desire, and it most likely won’t match your unique hearing needs. This can only be achieved through in-person, comprehensive evaluations and care.

​3.   Level of Professional Care – Fitting and Programming

One of the biggest benefits of investing in hearing care through House of Hearing is that we customize the way your hearing aids fit.

Each person’s ear shape is unique to them. For example, some people might have smaller ear canals, meaning they will find it difficult to get an online hearing aid that fits well. We make sure your hearing aids fit comfortably with the right ear measurements and molds.

While the hearing aids themselves are an important part of the treatment plan for one’s hearing loss, the hearing care professional is equally important, if not more.

Even the best hearing aids on the market are not going to be perfectly programmed for each patient right out of the box; they need to be finely tuned according to the hearing test results as well as properly adjusted to the unique needs of each patient.

Lively’s hearing aids come with generic sizes of earmolds. They say “We will work with you to resize your devices” but give no specifics as to how they’ll achieve this as a solely online company.

Our concern: Without having a hearing care professional who takes the time to ask the right questions and make the proper adjustments, even the best hearing aids will not necessarily work well.

In-person follow-up visits are essential to a person’s success with their hearing aids.

4. Locally Owned and Operated

I believe being locally owned and operated is important in this profession because we need to keep our local economy supported by those who love it most.

We have ten locations in Northern Utah, so chances are good that you’ll have one of our hearing clinics near you.

Staying local also gives you the benefits of being part of a hearing family. The more we know about the patients we work with, the better we can help with their individual hearing needs.

For example, because we are local to Utah, we understand that people in Utah do not necessarily have the same lifestyle — work, hobbies, frequent family meals — as people living in, say, Minnesota.

Therefore, they likely have different types of hearing problems, which means the treatment plan needs to be modified according to the needs of the individual.

Our concern: You won’t build a relationship with your Lively provider, and you might see a different representative for each video chat or adjustment.

The building of relationships with our patients is very important to us. We love that our patients know and trust us.

5.  Warranties

Hearing aids should always come with two warranties – a repair warranty and a loss and damage warranty.

Depending on which House of Hearing level you decide to go with, the hearing aids will come with either one-year, three-year, or four-year warranties.

The repair warranty covers the cost of any hearing aid repairs.

With House of Hearing, there is no limit to how many times an aid can be repaired, and you can drop them off when it’s convenient for you. The cost of the repair will be covered under the warranty with no out-of-pocket cost.

If a hearing aid is damaged or not functioning properly, and one of our experts is not able to fix it in the office, the hearing aids can be sent to the manufacturer for repair.

House of Hearing makes sure you are never without hearing aids during a repair period by lending you a pair with similar features until you get yours back.

Lively, on the other hand, has no local repair center even though repairs are covered in the warranty. So, no matter what kind of repair is needed, you have to send it in and be without your hearing aids until it’s fixed – about three weeks each time.

The loss and damage warranty – If a hearing aid is lost or is damaged beyond the point of repair, a one-time replacement can be issued for each device under the loss and damage policy.

After the warranty expires, it can be renewed for $450 per year.

Our concern: You could be without hearing aids for weeks at a time every time you need repairs.

  • The cost for a replacement of a House of Hearing hearing aid is $300 per ear.
  • Lively’s replacement cost is $195 per ear.

6.   Hearing Package Details and Insurance

House of Hearing

  • There is a large price range for hearing aids. Our device bundles start at $3,290 for an essential ongoing hearing care plan, and our all-inclusive premium plan is $7,290.
  • Our plans include follow-up care for the length of the package plan purchased.
  • We work with your insurance company on your behalf.
  • We are pleased to offer flexible monthly payment options, including 0% interest payment plans, through Wells Fargo, and Zions.
  • Our four-year, All Inclusive package includes a $1,000 credit toward new hearing aids bought within 48 months and 30% off all wireless accessories.

Lively

  • Lively hearing aid prices range from $1,195 to $1,995 per pair.
  • They come with three years of virtual follow-up care.
  • Lively will not work with your insurance company; they will only give you the receipts and documentation you need to deal with them yourself.
  • They offer payment plans from $39 to $65 per month.

Our concern: Although the initial purchase amount for Lively devices is cheaper – the price is for the hearing aids alone. As hearing care professionals, we believe the most important aspect of hearing treatment is the care you receive by a professional.

7.   Accessibility to Support

We understand that life happens, and sometimes it is not always possible to make it into our office for an appointment. That is why we offer tele-audiology or remote appointments.

If you are stuck at home sick and need your hearing aids adjusted, one of our audiologists can make changes to the programming of your hearing aids remotely, and you don’t ever even need to get out of bed!

Every single appointment you have with Lively will be with an audiologist, but it will always be virtual.

There are lots of other reasons that a remote appointment might be beneficial; but when an in-office, face-to-face appointment is needed to properly address your concerns, we’re here and ready to help.

Our concerns: You’ll never have in-person help and must have high-speed internet to connect with Lively’s virtual support.

8.   Refunds

There are a lot of different factors that help determine which devices are right for you. If you take the advice of your audiologist and follow their recommendations, there is a strong chance that you will do well with your chosen hearing aids.

But you might find that the hearing aids you thought you wanted aren’t going to work out for you after all. Sometimes that’s an easy fix with more adjustments and reprogramming, especially if your hearing changes.

But if nothing ends up working out well, the hearing aids can be returned for a full refund — as long as it is within the return period (typically 30 days) — and we will suggest you try out something else we think might work well.

Lively offers a 100-day trial and money-back guarantee. The trial period starts on the day of purchase, not when you receive them.

Our concern: If you don’t like their three hearing aid options, Lively has nothing else to offer you.

An honest audiologist should never guarantee that the hearing aids will work for someone, but they should be able to guarantee that they will do whatever they can to find the devices that are the best fit for you.

9. Long-term Care

Lively will help you for the three years of their warranty period. After that, you are on your own unless you buy new hearing aids from them.

We’re always here and ready to help in any way you need. Some of our patients have been coming to us for decades, and we have all their hearing test results and medical changes.

If their hearing gets worse, we can look at those records at any time to assess what’s going on and make sure it’s treated properly.

Our concern: Lively will never give you our kind of long-term care.

The Most Important Aspect of Choosing the Right Hearing Aids

While you should strongly consider all the options and recommendations of your audiologist or hearing care professional, I believe the most important aspect for choosing the right hearing aids is simply to choose ones that you will enjoy wearing for the majority of the day, every day.

Even the most high-tech, most expensive, or most invisible hearing aids will not work well for you if you don’t like the way they feel, look, or sound.

We believe that you can only find the best hearing aids for you with an in-person hearing test, fitting, and programming. We don’t think any single manufacturer can compare to the wealth of choice we offer by partnering with all the major brands and by giving expert one-on-one care.

Book a consultation or a hearing test to see if you even need hearing treatment. If you have any questions, we are eager to help – you can call us at (801) 657-4175.

We promise you will receive the highest and most patient-focused level of care available in Utah.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Ben Chargo Au.D., CCC-A

Ben is a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) with the House of Hearing. He received his doctorate from the University of Utah in May of 2018. He has been an employee of ENT House of Hearing since 2014 when he started as an intern while working on his doctorate. Ben was originally introduced to this field while working with his father, as he is also an audiologist and the owner of a private practice in Minnesota. From the first time he worked with his dad, Ben knew that this was the profession for him, as he was able to combine his love for helping others with his skills as a problem solver and as a communicator. Ben strongly believes that the work he does here is essential to improving the quality of life for each and every one of his patients, and his work is never done for the day until he has done everything he can to improve the hearing and lives of those patients. Since moving from Minnesota to Salt Lake City in 2013, he has fully embraced the Utah lifestyle. When he is not at work, you can typically find him skiing or snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, golfing, or on a motorcycle ride with his friends.