Illinois: Getting a hearing test & buying hearing aids

Illinois isn’t just the home of the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears – it’s also home to the fictional town of Shermer, where several classic movies are set (The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to name a couple). But how is Illinois’s hearing healthcare? Let’s find out!

How many test centers are in Illinois?

The state of Illinois is well covered for hearing test centres, as you may expect from such a populated state. The population is concentrated in the largest city, Chicago (and Chicago’s surrounding areas), so that does mean the majority of these hearing centers and audiologists will be based there. That’s not to say you won’t be able to find one in a smaller town, they just won’t be on every corner.

367 audiologists in illinois
Source: www.usahearingcenters.com/illinois

Audiologists in Illinois: 367
Hearing aid centers in Illinois: 389

Cities with the best hearing healthcare

We’ve taken a look at the largest cities and towns in Illinois to assess how well covered Illinoisians are. We compared the population size and number of hearing aid centers and audiologists.

CityPopulation
Audiologists & Hearing Aid Centers
Centers (per 100,000)
Chicago2,705,9942258.3
Aurora199,602189.0
Naperville148,30496.1
Joliet148,0991610.8
Rockford146,5262215.0
Springfield114,6941916.6

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

With over 21% of the population of Illinois living in Chicago, the major city has a significant number of audiologists and hearing centers. Despite this, the ratio of people to hearing centers is low compared to other cities in the state at 8.3 centers per 100,000 people.

The state capital (like in many other states such as California) has the best coverage at 16.6 centers per 100,000 people.

What government support do I have?

If you qualify for Medicaid, you’ve got a few options. Medicaid covers hearing tests, hearing aid sales, repairs and replacements, but to fully qualify for these, your hearing loss must be beyond a certain threshold, which can be found out through a hearing test.

Through the ACA, however, hearing aids are not covered. 

Is there a hearing aid trial period?

Illinois requires hearing aid dispensers not only to be licensed but also provide a 30 business day trial period on hearing aids under the ‘Illinois Hearing Instrument Consumer Production Act’.

If you're unhappy with your hearing aid during this time you can request a refund to be issued, but make sure to do it within the 30 business days of the date of delivery.

Fees for returning hearing aids

If a nonrefundable dispensing fee and/or restocking fee, is to be charged to you as a consumer then this should be clearly stated in the contract or receipt when purchasing your hearing aids.

What support do my children have?

If you have insurance, your children are in good hands as anyone under 18 is covered.

The policy states that if you have an individual or group policy of accident and health insurance or managed care plan that is amended, delivered, issued or renewed after August 22, 2018 then the it must provide coverage for medically necessary hearing instruments and related services. This is for all individuals under the age of 18, when a hearing healthcare professional prescribes a hearing instrument. 

The insurer will provide coverage, however there are the following restrictions:

  • One hearing instrument shall be covered for each ear every 36 months
  • Related services shall be covered when deemed medically necessary by a hearing professional
  • Repairs of hearing instruments may be covered when deemed medically necessary

Child hearing support options

Chicago Hearing Society (CHS) the society has been running since 1916, they have a with various connections in the community. The company runs a Hearing Aid Bank to provide financial support and allows hearing aids to be donated.

Audiology Doctoral Programs Offered in Illinois

Illinois has a record five doctoral programs on offer! These are offered at:

  • Illinois State University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • Rush University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Support for military veterans

Hearing healthcare support for veterans is nationwide, with 170 centers in total and 5 in Illinois, you’ll be able to find one close to you.

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 filling in this form. You'll see a qualified hearing consultant who will run a series of tests to determine if you have any hearing loss, and if you do, show you the best options 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

If you’re a resident Illinoisan, you’ve got some options. You aren’t exactly spoiled for choice, but if you’re in desperate need of a hearing aid, you should be able to find some kind of helpful option.

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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