It’s hard for any of us to offer advice specific to your situation without seeing your audiogram–and most of us here (me included) are not audiologists anyway.
But most people whose losses are no more than moderate do not need to spend $7,000 on hearing aids to get great results. It can be a red flag if an audiologist starts you off at the top of the line. On the other hand, for a patient with a lot of money who goes in and says, hey, I want the best you’ve got, then I don’t blame the audiologist for starting off at the top. More severe losses than moderate, getting up in the 85-100+ dB range in any part of the audiogram, may see more benefit in spending at this level; this can depend, though, on many factors.
If you like this audiologist but are more price sensitive, you should be able to say, this is my price range… whattya got? What are the compromises given my audiogram? You can’t really expect a private audiologist to match Costco prices because the private audiologist’s costs are much higher, but if they’re within 10-20% on similar products, they can be worth that modest premium if you really like the service you’re getting. A close relationship with a skilled audiologist is Gold, Jerry, Gold. You also have to figure in things like travel time and expense. It’s not unusual to have to go back four to six times in that first year for fittings and adjustments, so it makes most sense to have an audiologist close by.
Keep in mind that the life expectancy of a pair of hearing aids is commonly in the 6-10 year range… provided you don’t lose or damage an aid which is very easy to do… another reason the klutzy or disorganized among us may prefer to keep the cost down, because such folks are unlikely to get even six years out of a pair of aids. I have a friend who loses or breaks several pairs of reading glasses each year. I would not recommend $7K of far-tinier and more delicate hearing aids for him.