Full Service Pricing


#1

Hello - this forum is very helpful, thank you for all who contribute. I have decided I must get hearing aids for typical sensorial loss, although one ear is much worse and has been for many years - worst reading on R ear is 60db @6k, and L ear is 80db @ 4K.

I am located in Bermuda where we have one audiologist/hearing aid vendor. They apparently offer Phonak and Oticon and seem to have good knowledge of OPN programming. But their pricing seems very odd. They offer OPN1 at USD$ 9,400 a pair, OPN2 at $7,000 a pair and OPN3 at $5,200 a pair. There are no special costs such as duty that a Bermuda firm would face importing the units. Labour costs here might be 20% higher than the US.

  1. Can any forum members tell me what the equivalent full service audolist pricing would be for the OPNs for comparison purposes on the US east coast? It may be more cost effective for me to fly to NY or Boston several times for fitting.

  2. If I order on-line, I am worried about the level of difficulty to deal with any fitting issues and programming changes as it appears to take some time and effort to get everything adjusted for a first time HA user.

  3. I am fairly competent with technology, is the level of difficulty to acquire the OPN interface and software for self programming very significant? That could be another option for me.

Appreciate any information that anyone can provide. I am also a bit worried about warranty but will address that if I chose to purchase online or via a full service audiologist.

Thanks,
James


#2
  1. A well priced US clinic might be: 3200, 4200, 6200 for the 3 grades. i.e. you are getting hosed. You can try negotiating.

  2. There are online companies that can provide a loaner unit to make adjustments over the internet. Or you can purchase the unit from them at a reasonable cost.

  3. The unit mentioned above is needed to adjust hearing aids. They run around $200 on average – depending on model purchased they can be more. The software is fairly easy to find. Visit the DIY forum here for details.


#3

In the UK, dealer cost is about 1400 GBP. per pair for OPN1’s (under $2000); it’s amazing they can be sold for $9,400! What a ripoff.


#4

Thanks - are you sure it is GBP 1400 a pair or for each side?


#5

He’s likely right as it being the pair. Several years ago the VA listed their average cost per aid. They distribute more aids than anyone. It was around $320/aid. There is big profit up and down the distribution stream.


#6

Yep, that’s for the pair.


#7

Well the response of the local Audiologist to a suggestion that they improve the price from US$ 9,400 for a pair of OPN1’s was to immediately contact their rep at Oticon. I was quite clear that I want to buy from a full service Aud. The Oticon Rep said that they have a team of people working to “shut down” clinics and online merchants for making on-line sales possible. They told my local audiologist that “Last year over 50 Audiology Clinics in the US were shut down for selling Oticon hearing aids to online companies.” Oticon suggests that my local audiologist should refuse to serve me if I come in with OPN1s purchased through another vendor and to report the serial numbers to Oticon for further action.

I think I will continue suffer with my hearing loss rather than be screwed by the complicit price fixing of Oticon and my only local option for Audiology service.


#8

Don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a higher price for any aid. That is pure greed.

As to their shutting down 50, the flip side of that is that the online seller can pay a premium to an intermediary and still sell for the much lower price.

There have been some people here satisfied with OPN3 and OPN2. Not sure what they’d do on those. Depending on your loss, PSAP might be an interim move you could try. They are self-adjustable and work for many with a moderate to even severe loss.


#9

Oticon have become a particularly scummy operation IMO; their policies hurt only consumers. I have been a “loyal” Oticon user in the past, but I would never deal with them again. Some day, there will be an FTC action against these manufacturers for price fixing and other non-competitive behavior.


#10

FWIW, I think the Siemens Nx7 stands up to OPN1 very well with new technology, a far better set of apps, better streaming (for me, anyway). I’d also give the Widex 440’s a listen.


#11

Trying other options like Widex or Siemens is not available - the one local firm does Phonak and Oticon only, and I would classify their Audi as a technician with a couple of year’s experience, so at $9,400 a pair, it’s not as if I am getting a lot of trial options and access to remarkable professionals.

My options would be to fly to the US for fitting and each subsequent adjustment or service myself by doing my own programming - is that really a reasonable thing for a new HA user to try and do?


#12

If you’re asking the question, probably not. Self programming is not that hard, but it takes a certain comfort with tech and a desire and willingness to figure things out.


#13

Ask your local practitioner what their cost is for fitting outside aids. If it’s not unreasonable you could buy them elsewhere and then have them serviced locally.


#14

Thanks for the suggestion Neville, I did ask them that, and they said they will not fit, service or program anything purchased from someone else. They are the sole HA dispenser here, but as a licensed health services provider they seem to be treading in ethically difficult territory and are clearly conflicted by their freedom to gouge the patient. Their staff are also purely technicians, not Au.D. which makes the $9,400 price even more ludicrous.
I am presently evaluating the self programming option or using a NY full service clinic to take me as a client.


#15

These people who won’t service aids bought elsewhere deserve to go out of business. They do a disservice to the customers themselves (who might very well provide other business or referrals), customers of the hearing aid manufacturer, and frankly, to the profession. It’s stupid behavior that is ultimately self-defeating (I suspect it also violates the seller’s agreement with the manufacturer; if not, shame on the manufacturer!)


#16

So if someone new comes to live there who already has hearing aids bought elsewhere , they will refuse to support them? I think if they are registered health care professionals then their registration board would probably be interested to know that.


#17

I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in Canada hearing instrument practitioners are unregulated. Which leaves them free to do whatever they like and charge whatever they like.


#18

It is the same in Australia. The peak body for audiologists asked the government body to regulate the industry with registration but the response was that hearing aid providers and audiologists did not have enough potential to do harm to warrant being a regulated profession. I guess they don’t consider financial harm to be of consequence.

Our ACCC did investigate the industry and “put them on notice” but nothing changed that I can see.


#19

I see some really cheap OPN1s on ebay. They often include a wireless programmer. Eg 2x New Oticon OPN 1 miniRITE RIC type Hearing Aids for iPhone + Fitting Link 3.0 | eBay

A third of the price of your guy’s with programmer. The wireless programmer won’t do firmware upgrades. Maybe they could do that for you before they ship?


#20

I suspect that they would just target clients who were assessed by the local audiologist and subsequently purchased away and refuse to service those devices, which is of course predjudicial. My experience is motivating me to look into to regulatory aspect of this, the present government does not like this type of disservice to the community from a regulated service provider.