On September 29, 2017, The Baltimore Sun published an article titled “Lower cost, better hearing,” addressing the high cost of hearing aids. The story discussed a consumer who was quoted $7000 for a pair of devices. The consumer was ultimately fit in Baltimore for half the initial cost at a non-profit where hearing aids are priced on a sliding scale. But why did she need to go to Baltimore and a non-profit organization to find affordable hearing aid prices?
As with other technology, hearing aid prices are influenced by the features included. Hearing aids have four primary components: a microphone, amplifier, receiver, and battery. Many hearing aid manufacturers have responded to consumers’ requests for upgraded features: smaller/invisible devices, noise reduction, Bluetooth compatibility, rechargeable batteries, and more. The cost of hearing aids relates to the number of upgrades the consumer desires. Value hearing aids — those with only the four necessary components — are very low-cost, and can sell for around $250 per device. As you would expect, costs increase with the addition of more features and technology. Premium level hearing aids sell for around $1600 per device.
So how did someone get the quote for $7000 hearing aids? Currently, the law requires that hearing aids be fit by a state-licensed professional. That will change when the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act Legislation is fully enacted; but more about that in the next blog. Most practices “bundle” the cost of the professional services into the price of hearing aids. Although one device may only cost $1000, the mark-up for the professional services is included and could raise the device cost to $3500, or $7000 a pair.
Smart consumers may wonder why they have to pay professional services twice. Is it really twice as much work and time to fit two hearing aids? Designer Audiology says no! With our unbundled pricing policy, consumers clearly see the cost of the hearing aids separately from professional services. Consumers select the technology and associated price they want for the hearing aid(s). The professional fitting fees are set (but are not double for a pair of hearing aids), and no pre-payment of follow-up services is required in the initial cost. [Learn more about Designer Audiology prices here: /cost-of-hearing-aids/]
The Baltimore Sun article brought attention to the cost of hearing aids, but consumers don’t need to go to Baltimore or find a sliding scale to get a fair price.