That was a good question....I heard it over and over again from a number of my customers so I had to see for myself. I paid for a Consumer Reports membership online and here is what I learned,
"Our research indicates that rating hearing-aid brands and models on overall performance is not possible because people with seemingly identical hearing loss may hear differently using a particular product programmed the same way."
This is what I learned also. I have seen cases where there were two customers with almost identical audiograms. They both ordered the same Open Fit Hearing Aid. It worked for one of the customers--did not help the other at all.
Consumer Reports sent out 30 shoppers to test hearing is one experience,

"One of our shoppers, a musician, couldn't tolerate a flutter heard at certain pitches with the first set of aids he purchased. The provider told him that was just the way the aids sound. But the second pair our shopper purchased for our study worked fine, with no flutter."

I think this may be why most insurance companies and medicare do not cover hearing aids--except the high end plans. The outcomes are unpredictable from patient to patient. Insurance companies assess probability and risk or use Actuarial Science to find predictable outcomes. Insurance companies need predictable outcomes. The Actuarial science insurance companies use aids in the design of benefit structures, such as reimbursement standards, and the effects of proposed government standards on the cost of healthcare. If its subjective, if it works for one and not the other, it can't be measured. If it can't be measured insurance companies are not going to reimburse you. Folks, I could be wrong on this but think this is the main reason most insurance companies and medicare do not cover hearing aids.
Consumers Reports went on to say....
"Our laboratory tests didn't compare brands, but we did evaluate features. Among the most useful were the telecoil and directional microphone. Don't pay for unnecessary features, as some of our shoppers were pressured to do. The more features you buy, the more you'll probably pay, but you might not need every one.

So why bother with hearing aids? Medical evidence shows that they can improve your quality of life and relationships with friends and family, so it's worth persevering until you get aids that are properly selected and fitted. Of our survey respondents, 73 percent pronounced themselves highly satisfied with their aids. As one of our shoppers noted, "I'm hearing music sounds I haven't heard for over 20 years."
Moreover, hearing-aid technology has made major strides in recent years, most notably with the development of very small open-fit digital hearing aids. In loud social settings, the most challenging environment for hearing-aid users, survey participants reported more improvement with those aids, which don't plug up the ear canal, over other styles that use earmolds, custom-shaped inserts that fit tightly in the ear canal.

If you're avoiding noisy places or having trouble in conversation or understanding TV, it might be time for a hearing aid. In our survey 67 percent of first-time aid users sought aids because they got tired of asking others to repeat themselves."

What's the conclusion on this?
I drew two conclusions from this...
1. As Consumer Reports stated, "people with identical hearing loss may hear differently using the same hearing aid programmed the same way." This opens the door to you ask yourself, why go with a brand name with same features, same specifications, same suggested fitting 2-3 times the price? 1. Will anyone notice that you have a Phonak for $3500 versus a Audition for $899--when its behind the ear and 2. Is the listening improvement really worth the price difference?

2. Hearing aids will help you hear better. They will improve the quality of your life. And the only way you are going to know if hearing aids work for you is to take them for a test drive. But first, before you jump in and order, here's a quick checklist of things to think about before buying a hearing aid

  • Review the pros and cons (including cost trade-offs) of different hearing-aid styles and features (such as 2 mics, telecoil, feedback suppression, noise reduction, and manual-volume control).

  • Consider your personal preferences concerning style, aesthetics, color, cost, and features.

  • Check for money back guarantee, return policies, restocking fees, shipping time and costs, sales tax, BBB Rating, Reviews, testimonials, credit card security credentials, contact information--address or PO Box, warranties, exchange or upgrade options and check the "about us" section--is it a faceless/nameless company?.

  • Check for instructions, how-to videos, hearing assessment and hearing tests, frequently asked questions, troubleshooting help, online privacy policies, and reprogramming options, replacement if lost options.