California: Guide to Hearing Loss

How does the audiological healthcare of the golden state fare and what support does it offer to its residents?

Over 12% of adults in California have some form of hearing loss, so access to hearing healthcare is important, especially as you age.

12.3% of adults in California have hearing loss
Source: cdc.gov

If California were an independent nation, it's economy would be the 5th largest in the world, so you'd expect great hearing healthcare.

How many test centers are in California?

We don’t want to overstate it, but California is absolutely packed with audiologists and hearing aid centers. We usually count them up and show you a nice infographic with a big number, but our source simply displays too many to count.

We were able to find a rough estimate of the amount of audiologists, however. With around 990 audiologists alone, the state is well covered for your hearing needs.

What this should tell you is that there is a ridiculous amount of hearing healthcare on offer for anyone living in California. There are dozens of cities and towns that each offer an abundance of audiology professionals, so you’ll be in a good spot no matter where you are in the state.

Cities with the best hearing healthcare

We've looked at the largest cities in California to understand how covered the residents are, comparing the population size with the number of hearing aid centers and audiologists based there.

CityPopulationAudiologists & Hearing Aid CentersCenters (per 100,000)
Los Angeles3,990,456601.5
San Diego1,425,976694.8
San Jose1,030,119353.4
San Francisco883,305333.7
Fresno530,09381.5
Sacramento508,529418.1

Source: https://www.california-demographics.com/cities_by_population
Source: https://www.usahearingcenters.com/search-hearing-loss-by-city.html

Out of the large cities, the capital Sacramento comes out on top. A modest population size along with a high number of centers means that there are 8.1 centers per 100,000 people.

The largest city in the state, Los Angeles, is tied lowest with Fresno. With the LA population getting close to 4 million people, its residents will have to share the 60 hearing aid centers or audiologists carefully.

What government support do I have?

If you qualify for Medicaid, you can go over all your options on this page here. Long story short, it looks pretty good for you – tests, hearing aids, repairs, and replacements are all covered by Medicaid.

It’s not perfect – batteries aren’t covered, for example – but it’s a huge positive to anyone who is less fortunate and in dire need of hearing aids.

The ACA is not so generous – hearing aids aren’t covered at all with the ACA, so if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, then you may be out of luck. You might have to resort to a private provider to meet your audiological needs.

Is there a hearing aid trial period?

In California, there is no trial period mandated by the state. However, if a hearing aid is not fit for your needs it may be returned to the seller within 30 days of completion of fitting or the receipt date. This return period can vary so check with your seller on their policy around returning hearing aids before completing the purchase.

There is also a 45 day warranty period required for hearing aids sold in California, again, sellers could extend this period so best to check before purchasing.

What support do my children have?

California’s support for children with hearing loss is good, but that’s mainly due to the fact that its audiological resources are already great. Children don’t get special treatment, but this is only because everyone gets special treatment. It’s an audiological utopia!

There is an active screening programme in California called the Newborn Hearing Screening Program (NHSP) that acts as an early identification system. 

This programme aims to test and identify infants with hearing loss before the age of three months and provide support services before they’re 6 months old.

What screening methods are used?

There are two screening methods used on infants, both non-invasive, quick and painless with the responses to sounds automatically measured.

Hearing TestHow the test is performed
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)An Audiologist will put earphones into the child’s ears along with electrodes on the head and near the ears.
Clicks sounds and tones are played through the headphones, with the electrodes measuring how the nerves and brain respond.
This test will be done either through a unsedated or sedated method.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)A small probe is placed in your child’s ear canal to play low volume sound to the ear.
The cochlea responds to these sounds by producing an otoacoustic emission that’s measured by the screening unit.
The pass or fail result will display on the unit in less than a minute.

What happens if hearing loss is identified?

Children with hearing loss will be referred to their local Early Start Program for support. A variety of resources and services will be available to infants and families to provide early intervention solutions.
Source: https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/

Audiology Doctoral Programs Offered in California

What if you’re interested in studying audiology? How does California look for audiology doctorates?

There are two universities that offer audiology doctorates, which isn’t a lot for a state as big as California, but it’s still worth discussing. These two universities are:

  • University of the Pacific
  • San Diego State University/University of California San Diego.

What support can I get if I’ve served in the military?

Hearing healthcare support for veterans is nationwide, with 170 centers nationwide and 8 in California you’ll be able to find coverage.Our guide on VA hearing aids goes into more detail about the support you have available.

How can I get my hearing tested?

A hearing test is the first step towards better hearing health and you can get tested for free in your local area by a qualified hearing consultant. They’ll run a series of tests to determine if you have any hearing loss, and if so, what the best option is for you moving forward.

Read our guide on what to expect from a hearing test find out more about details, know what to bring with you and how long a hearing test might take.

Overall

As the busiest state in the US, California has great hearing healthcare coverage as you’d expect.

It has one of the highest numbers of audiologists out of any state. Coverage for children is extensive and with programs in place to support infants past the initial test they’re in good hands. 

Duncan Lambden

Duncan Lambden

Writer

Duncan is an Australian-born American-raised creative writer with a passion for healthy ears. He continues to build upon his audiology qualifications with research and various courses. Duncan has been working alongside Florida-based audiologist Lindsey Banks, Au.D., to make sure that Clear Living has the most up-to-date content.

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