HearPO, HearingPlanet, Audibel, etc.?

Can someone explain HearPO and HearingPlanet work? I spoke to one audi who said that in some cases HearPOs prices are better, sometimes HearingPlanet, but other times you could get the best price going straight to the audi. My insurance company does not cover the cost of HAs but they have offer discount programs, HearPO is one of them. Frankly most of the discounts my insurance company offers are nothing special, they’re often simply 5% off of various programs or products like Jenny Craig or Drugstore.com. You can usually find better pricing on your own.

So far from what I can figure out is both HearPO and HearingPlanet want to refer you to one of their participating dispensers. They don’t want you going there on your own, they want to give your name to the provider. I assume that insures they get some kind of commission or fee, but I really don’t know. Do they work like ServiceMagic funneling leads to dispensers? Contractors have told me that Service Magic charges them something like $25 for a referral.

Are they buying groups in the same way Ace Hardware Store are – an association of independent providers who buy as one group from HA manufactures to get better pricing?

Is there a real benefit for the consumer or the dispenser?

And what’s the scoop with Audibel?

Are there any audis or dispensers out there who can shed some light on this?

From my experiance they are both very similar I have seen both of their audis. The way HearingPlanet works is if you make them aware of your connection to HearPO they miraculously meet the HearPO price. Why not offer it right off the bat? I am going back to the HearPO audi Jan.6 to set into motion picking up Phonak Versata priced at 1895 per. They are 2299 per at HearingPlanet. Had to wait till new year to use Flex Spending. Only other thing I noticed is the HearingPlanet folks call often to “see how you are doing”. I am hoping the Aids help me and the only other issue is with HearPO warrantees are extended out 3 years, and and trial period out to 60 days.

I have recent experience with Hearing Planet. I ended up buying HAs through them and found their process convenient. Their prices seem comparable from what I’ve read - their price is turnkey, I.e. The purchase price includes local Audi services, warranty and l/d insurance.

They set up an appointment for an exam. After the exam which indicated a need on my part (not unexpected) the HP salesman/agent provided prices and options. They will also assist in financing if you’d like.

I don’t know what payment arrangement they have with the local audi but she has been very helpful and responsive. There was a manufacture’s problem with one of my aids after a week and everyone jumped through hoops to replace the pair with a slightly more expensive pair.

I don’t know about the others but assume they operate similarly.

If the folks at HearPO and/or HearingPlanet are savvy web marketers they are monitoring “the conversation”. (that’s web marketing lingo for they check to see what people are saying about them on them internet) I invite them to share with the forum readers the benefits of purchasing hearing aids through their program over going directly to a provider or through their competitor’s program. The really savvy ones will be open and informative which will win over customers. If they simply point us to their websites they’re missing an opportunity.

the problem is that most manf. are banning internet sales.
Unless they go into a private label (like America hears) they will
probably go out of business

xbulder,
These companies do not sell HAs over the internet, you have to go to an audi or dispenser to get the HAs. They have agreements with audis/dispensers all over the country. You contact one of these companies like HearPO or HearingPlanet, they pass your name along to a provider in your area and set up and appointment for you. HearingPlanet publishes their price list, HearPO claims to save you “25% off of retail pricing.”
I started to create a comparison chart today and my plan was to upload it so that people could easily compare the programs and I was including Costco but I don’t have enough info to really do it justice. But here’s what I’ve found out poking around the net today. If I find out more I’ll amend this and if anyone finds mistakes, please let me know. (yeah, I admit I’m getting obsessive but hopefully others will benefit from this)

Warranty:
HearPO - 3 year including loss and damage (one-time claim)
HearingPlanet - standard manufacturer’s warranty (generally 2-3 year) plus an undefined loss and damage warranty.
Costco - standard manufacturer’s warranty (generally 2-3 year) plus an undefined loss and damage warranty.

Trail period:
HearPO: 60 days
HearingPlanet: 45 days
Costco: 90 days

Selection:
HearPO: According to their literature, dispensers must provide HearPO branded HAs. But I’ve also read in an insurance benefit packet that HearPO has over 200 models. So I assume they rebadge other maker’s HA.
HearingPlanet: They list prices for most major HA manufacturers.
Costco: It seems that they currently carry Bernafon, Kirkland Signature (rebranded Rexton), and Interon. All in various configurations.

I’m not discounting the importance of going to the right audiologist or dispenser, I’m just trying to get a handle on what these programs are about. My insurance company offers HearPO but I’m getting the feeling they do that so you won’t get too P.O.-ed that they don’t cover the cost of HAs. It seems that the “benefit” the insurance company is offering up is nothing that I can’t get on my own.

For my first HAs I’ll probably go to the audiology clinic that’s part of the big world renown medical center where my ENT is. They told me they offer a 30% discount to people who self pay. I wonder how easy it is to get in for an adjustment. It generally takes three months to see anyone in that big place.

I had a nice conversation with C-level exec at a big manufacturer in the past week about my selling of aids over the Internet. They do not care in the least IF and only if, the aids are not being shipped to the end user. If the aids are sold on a solid clinical basis (i.e. the aids are appropriate for the the individual and their loss) and if the aids are fit by face-to-face process by a licensed provider, then good clinical protocol has not been violated.

Summary:

If I sell an aid over the internet:

  1. It must go to the provider for fitting;
  2. I must record the providers’ license, location and other data for the manufacturer if they want to “spot-check” my sales process.
  3. It is no easy task to find a remote provider who will fit the aids for a reasonable fee, but I have been working on this and have found them!

David Regan
The Auditory Scene, Inc.

www.auditoryscene.net

As I said I have been to both. Process is the same pretty muchthe same for both HearPO and HearingPlanet. Both were excellent in representing themselves and the entitiy that they represent. The product sold at HearPO is the exact same Product sold at HearingPlanet, they do reskin them to say HearPO but that is all. As I said before the HearPO has a price list directed to their providers that is generally fixed in stone. HearingPlanet posts prices on the website and they do move from their price if another entity is mentioned as in my case HearPO. As I said earlier why not a better or lower price to begin with, soured me a bit on them, not the local Audi he was great. As stated warrantee is extended out 3 years with HearPO, and the trial out 60 days. And for me I decided on HearPO going on Jan. 6 for beginning of process for first time aids. The prices for Hearpo on the models of HA I am at this point most interested in is 1895 all inclusive versus 2299 at HearingPlanet for the Phonak Versata, 1995 versus 2599 for the Audeo Yes V, and 1595 versus 1999 for the Certana. so as you can see quite a bit of difference in price. My suggestion is to mention HearPO even if it is really available to you, for me they never asked for verification so if a HearingPlanet Audi is closer and seems good to you save the money just by mentioning HearPO. Again both Audis were excellent I chose the one that seemed best for me.

These guys are another online source similar to HearingPlanet and HearPo.
Comparing only the Audeo Yes V from the previous posters info they are $2199. I gave them a call and set up an appointment.
At the apt I detected a note of dislike for the way I had gotten there.
I do not know the particulars regarding how much they get paid from online referrals. I can only assume there’s more to it than meets the eye.
In the end I decided to deal directly with the audi, the online source was only a few hundred dollars less.

Buying a hearing aid is surely a learning experience. One that require hours days and weeks of hard work. This resource as well as the internet are valuable tools but one has to read between the lines very carefully and still that may not be enough.

After reading both Aidright and Hearing Planet web sites they look so similar in approach, information provided, etc they almost look like the same company or else one copied the other’s business plan one’s in Tennessee, the other’s in Georgia.

Nothing wrong or to be wary of here, in my estimation, but while comparing the two I had to check to be sure which one I was looking at.

I can understand why an audiologist would not be happy working with one of these discount programs. I’m guessing audiologists spend four to five hours with each patients to get them tested, fitted and followed up and that for every hour they spend with a patient they spend an hour doing administrative things. So to make a reasonable living and pay for all the over head (rent, insurance, utilities, equipment, loans, staff), I bet (again another guess) they have to mark up the aids about $1000 each. Hmm, well that’s why HAs are so darn expensive. But still, from reading this forum, I get the impression that there can be a huge price difference from one place to another… as much as 50%. It makes me feel like I’m buying a used car.

Let’s look at it another way. From what I’ve read most HA wearers need two HAs. So we’re talking, hmm, $3,000-6000. I don’t know how long they last but lets say they last five years. So that’s about $600-1,200 per year or $50-100 per month. That’s about one latte per day or your daily dose of statins.

My insurance covers hearing aids and offers HearPO as a means of reducing the price. You must make initial contact with a local dispenser through HearPO, then make an appt directly with the dispenser. The dispenser I visited yesterday offers Phonak, Resound, Siemens, etc and didn’t mention HearPO branding, though the Resound Live 9 I ordered must be delivered by HearPO and may be rebranded.

I got conflicting reports about Aetna’s HA coverage. I initially went to a ENT clinic where they also recommended the Resound Live 9. After checking with Aetna, the audiologist told me that Aetna would only pay the contract price of $300 per HA, which wouldn’t go far. I found this hard to believe so I called Aetna and was told that my plan covers two hearing aids per lifetime at 100% with no maximum price. I’ll be interested to find what really happens in practice.

Posts in this thread about HearPO’s plan are pretty much on the mark. Only things I’d add are that HearPO has no restocking fee and you must pay 100% of the HA price to HearPO even if you have insurance (you then submit an insurance claim to be reimbursed). Also, I searched the internet for a better price and couldn’t beat HearPO’s $2395 price.

I am a provider for Hear PO and was a provider for Hearing Planet. Both entities require that the patient purchase the hearing aid from them, not the dispenser or audiologist. The provider is reimbursed for their services, but at a reduced rate of what they would usually be reimbursed without the “middle man” of Hear PO or Hearing Planet. Theoretically, the provider saves money by not acquiring the patient through expensive advertising.

I cancelled my contract with Hearing Planet because I was not allowed to tell the patient what my prices were for the hearing aids. If I did, I would be subject to a several thousand dollar fine. This wouldn’t have been an issue if it weren’t for the fact that the hearing aids were more expensive through Hearing Planet.

The savings a patient may receive through Hear PO, Hearing Planet, or (recently) Epic in this geographic region is typically a couple hundred dollars. In return, the services they receive from the provider is generally limited in comparison to what they would get directly from the provider. In contrast, the provider “loses” far more money than you the patient save. In the case of Epic, it would cost me, the provider, more to service the patient versus what I am reimbursed. Yet, the patient savings is minimal in contrast.

My recommendation to anyone considering the use of Hearing Planet or Epic is to contact a provider first and see if they will work with you to negotiate a price comparable to what you would find from Hear Planet or Epic and then remove the middle man.

thanks finn - I’m sure lots of us really appreciate your insightful post…

Finn,

Thanks, that was really helpful.

An audi from a big medical center recommended some HAs and offered a 30% discount for self paying. That brought the price to $3,500 each. Hearing Planet wants about the same but HearPO has them for $2,100. Since I need two that’s a huge difference. It’s too bad that it doesn’t really work out well for the audis.

FACT: Middle-man operations (names goes here) will take a $950 (wholesale cost) premium HA and sell it for $2,799 and send you to the actual clinician for the testing and fitting.

FACT: the clinician makes 300-500 per aid fit and the middle man makes approximately $1,500/aid. The sucking sound is greed draining your pockets - on the up-side, prices will come down in the next 3-5 years as competition heats-up.

Great advice, Finn. I am tired of “middle-men” Internet companies skimming off a huge portion of the purchase price by doing nothing except generating a “lead,” while purporting to help the consumer. As providers, we are doing all the work, taking all the risk, paying all the bills associated with a retail office, and assuming all the responsibility for that patient for several years. One patient of mine said she was bit embarrassed to admit that she had just ordered a Model XYZ hearing aid from Hearing Planet (per a recommendation over the telephone). She looked stunned when I told her I had the exact same device right on my shelf, and that my price was lower than she was quoted from them! Furthermore, I let her try it with no obligation or payment for several days, after which she decided it wasn’t the best for her. Contrary to popular belief, these companies are doing nothing to lower the cost of hearing aids. To providers: Just say “no” to these companies. To consumers: Do as Finn suggests and negotiate directly with the provider.

Audibel is a division of Starkey Labs – the hearing aids are the same but have different model names. They are distributed through their own network of offices.

I let her try it with no obligation or payment for several days,

I thought 30 days was the standard? Not several.

Contrary to popular belief, these companies are doing nothing to lower the cost of hearing aids.

Doesn’t the mfg themselves dictate price, not the vendor?

Sorry for the ambiguity.

The customer terminated the trial, not me. Official trial periods are always at least 30 days. My point was that as an independent retailer, I was able to fit her on the spot and let her try it before signing an official contract and without paying me anything. For many customers (especially previous users, who can judge the hearing aids more quickly), I let them try a few devices on this basis before starting an “official” 30-day trial. This is not possible when ordering a specific device, sight unseen (or should I say; “sound unheard?”), from an Internet company.