Lowering cost doesn't increase Hearing Aid purchases


Thread has moved off topic. Currently discussing health care in the U.S.



Bet they didn’t ask anyone on this forum that question.



I think the article does little to address the effect cost has on hearing aid purchases. The bottom line of the article as stated by Dr. Stach is that people will not buy hearing aids at any price, unless they think they need them. This comes under the heading of the customer not having a need for hearing aids as they percieve it. You could sell hearing aids for $100.00 each, and if I do not think I NEED hearing aids, I will not spend the money.

This is human nature 101. People will not buy a product to fill a need, unless they have established that need. Price doesn’t have anything to do with it. You cannot motivate people with price if they don’t think they need the product in the first place.

I would suggest they do a study that takes people who are motivated to get help with there hearing. After NEED has been established, THEN see how much cost affects the decision. I think you will come up with completely different findings.

Looks like another meaningless article to me, by people more interested in being published, then actually accomplishing anything.

My $.02



The sample they used appears to be people with mild hearing loss. Speaking from personal experience, I wasn’t even aware I had a hearing loss until it was in the moderate range, when conversations became a struggle. Because hearing loss usually creeps up on people, the brain learns to adapt…and maybe I’m alone in this, but if my loss had remained mild I never would have gone through the hassle and expense of hearing aids. BUT, for the sake of argument…if (at 29 years old) an audi convinced me that aids for a mild loss would improve my quality of life? There is no WAY the price would NOT have mattered. No pun intended, but I ain’t buying it. Unfortunately for me (and all of us) it wasn’t a choice…I must have aids or I can’t function without serious problems.

This study is misleading and even kind of pointless. People with a mild loss still have a choice whether to get aids or not…their everyday functioning isn’t as effected as the majority of us here on this forum. Just last week my primary doc said his tinnitus was really getting bad. I asked if he also has hearing loss and he said “oh yeah but I’ll be damned if I pay thousands for hearing aids!!”

It’s like the above poster said…I mean, if you don’t have any use for a car (or believe you don’t) then you wouldn’t pay five grand for a brand new Audi…but surely no one thinks that car sales would stay the same if the prices went way lower!?



I’m sure some people don’t get hearing aids because they are expensive. But I’m sure there are also people who use the cost of hearing aids as an excuse to not get them. They have other reasons for not wanting them (appearing old, not good with electronic devices). I’m thinking of my parents-in-law who needed hearing aids long before I did and who still don’t have them for the real reasons I identify. Ask them and they’ll say, “Too much money!” That’s really not why they don’t have them. They can easily afford them. They just don’t want aids. Too bad. Not having them has robbed them of some of the joy of living.



…just out of curiosity, is anyone here on the forum in the mild hearing loss range?? For the pros here, do many people with mild losses get hearing aids?

I’d damn near give up a few fingers to upgrade to a mild loss!



Couple years ago, i would have said not many people with mild hearing loss get aids, but even in the past 6 months, I’ve seen that change dramatically.

My patient demographic is definitely changing to include younger patients with milder losses. Could be that they are more aware of it through screenings and education or also because aids are being built in a more discrete manner, allowing them to avoid the stigma.

In a related note, I’m also seeing a huge influx in the past year of younger musicians, construction workers, landscapers and band teachers getting fit with hearing protection and getting baseline audiograms.

dr. amy



I’ve known many people who say, “yeah I need hearing aids, but the cost…” And obviously they don’t have THAT bad of a loss, since they still feel they have a choice.

I still think the article is ridiculous. I wonder if the Hearing Aid Manufacturers of America funded it to prove ‘cost doesn’t matter’ or to downplay the sky-high markups. (Kidding about the group–I made it up.)



You are the cynical little soul, aren’t you?? :slight_smile:
/reference to another thread…

Actually, I had the same thought as you did, this time! Often these studies are funded with an agenda. But reading the summary of the study from the link, it made sense to me.



Yeah I’ve been accused of being a realist! But seriously, I always look for the agenda in any study, and there is almost ALWAYS an agenda…it kills me the way statistics and studies are skewed to “find” whatever the seeker wants to “prove”.

In this study, most people wouldn’t notice the fact that the hearing losses were mild in the population being studied. Or if they weren’t familiar with hearing loss at all, they wouldn’t know what it even means.



There’s an old saying in the financial world, “Figures don’t lie but liars can figure”. This pretty much applies to surveys, polls and specific articles of interest also.



I would agree with Melissa - the study is not too relevant. Here is my take:

Only people with MILD hearing loss were studied - as Melissa points out, most people with MILD hearing loss are able to function at a high level WITHOUT an aid.

Using a figure for the “average” cost of a hearing aid at approximately $1800, there are 3 groups in the study:

  1. people received free hearing aids (full insurance coverage)
  2. people received discounted hearing aids (total price of $1080 for 1 aid (40% discount))
  3. people paid full price ($1800)

"The study shows that patients who had full coverage for hearing aids obtained them about seven years earlier and with better hearing than the other two groups. "

So yes, cost DOES matter as to getting hearing aids.

And $1080 is still a tremendous cost for a MILD problem. If the goal of the study is to determine the effect of cost on obtaining hearing aids, I think the study would be vastly more useful if:

  1. It included patients with moderate and severe hearing loss (patients more likely to NEED hearing aids to function at a high level)
  2. the price points should be more like $0, $300, $500, $700 for hearing aids to see if there is a “breakpoint” where people were more or less likely to get hearing aids.


I always take a quick glance at poster’s audiograms here on this forum, and I can say I’ve never noticed anyone with a mild loss hanging around here. I’ll have to take Dr. Amy’s word for it, that in the past six months she’s noticed a dramatic influx of people with mild losses getting hearing aids. I’ll bet a dollar to a donut that many of THOSE people end up not wearing them or wearing them occasionally. Shoot, I know people who have serious struggles with hearing who for whatever reason won’t get aids…I still cannot imagine many people whipping out thousands for a mild loss. Not to mention the pain-in-the-ass factor. My dispenser said unless it’s a mild loss that is closer to the moderate end, he won’t touch them, but he rarely sees people like that.

But thanks for posting the article…gave us something to rip apart! :slight_smile:



I agree the article is a joke, but many of them are. Like someone else said, if you want to find something hard enough, you can make any figures skew in your favor.

I was trying to find a common factor between my younger, milder HL patients and their factors (or motivation) for being fit with aids. The biggest thread I see is that they are in jobs that are usually competitive in nature. Mostly are salespeople (automobiles, advertising) so that could be a factor. highly competitve workplaces somtimes drive people to be at the top of their game and not missing a syllable.

I also have a handful who are in some form of lab work (chemist, engineer) and so I attribute their necessity to not miss a beat to the detailed nature of their job.

This is NOT a survey of my patients - just my 2 cents :stuck_out_tongue:




I’m in my early thirties and suffering from mild hearing loss and I’m getting hearing aids at the end of this month. Unfortunately hearing loss runs in our family and seeing how this has negatively impacted on our family life encouraged me to go for screening as soon as I noted similar symptoms popping up. I’m a software engineer and I was really starting to battle following discussions in large meeting rooms. In my project team I also have a couple of members who have a habit of speaking softly and I was really having a frustrating time trying to hear what they were saying. I am also facing a situation where I might soon have to lead a project team and then I cannot afford to struggle to communicate with my team members. My wife was also continuously telling me to turn down the TV and Hifi volume and I was also having troubles with tinnitus.

I was sceptical at first getting hearing aids, but seeing how discreet the new designs were and the fact that I could wear open domes and just let the hearing aid assist with my HF loss, while still relying on my LF hearing made it kind of a easy decision. They were uncomfortable at first, made my ear canals itch, watch out when going out in the rain. After arriving tired at home day after day, I’m now as fresh as a daisy as I don’t have to strain to hear others. Its great not having to ask people to repeat themselves and with advanced hearing aids you actually realise that you can hear better than other people in noisy environments like pubs etc. It was amusing being shouted at for a change! :stuck_out_tongue: It also made me realise how much we take our hearing for granted, I think it is great that I can wear aids that still allow me to fully experience all the sounds that life still has to offer and let me fully appreciate music and hifi again. Hopefully by wearing hearing aids now, my hearing will deteriorate at less rapid rate as I become older.

To be honest I’m quite aghast at the cost of hearing aids, but being an engineer I also understand why they are that expensive… There is a lot one has to consider outside just the cost of the aids themselves from supply chains, logistics, support networks and warranties. Once innovation starts slowing down in hearing aids then the cost will start to lower and the uptake will also increase. At this stage innovation is still going strong! Long may it continue!



As I mentioned in another post, the parent company of Phonak and Unitron, Sonova, only spends 7% of sales on R and D and less than that on manufacturing. Over 28% is spent on Marketing and Sales. This innovation sure isn’t very expensive and isn’t the reason aids cost that much. Its control of the marketplace with the help of the FDA in the US.



Hearing aid purchasing is a pain in the you know what. You have to see a professional in a medical office setting…pay a fortune for the aids, carry a stigma advertising I’m defective on your head.

What’s wrong with this whole industry is the legal barriers and general emotion that you are sick and need a medical fix.

If aids were thought of as miniture amplifiers and sold over the counter accompanied by normal every day merchandising and advertising the stigma would disappear and price would drop to a fraction of what a pro must charge under the present overall industry ethos.

There should be a two tier merchandising set up. People with mild and moderate simple loss the vast majority, should buy self adjustable aids at Walmart. People with severe/profound or complex losses should be treated as a medical problem and consult an ENT and purchase from a licensed professional. IMO Ed



amen, i agree



7% R&D sounds about right to me as well as 28% for Marketing and sales. The main obstacle to growth in this industry still appears to be hearing aid adoption and perception so I’m sure that is where most of the focus would be.

I wouldn’t say that the industry considers people sick. Poor hearing is a deficiency (like poor eyesight) and is something that must be managed. As hearing is something that differs/changes over time it should be managed by someone who understands what hearing is about and advise you about your options and offers support.

I would also rather have all the regulation and knowing that the products I am using have been certified to high standards and are safe to use even if it meant being much more expensive. Would you fly on a new commercial jet-liner that hasn’t been certified airworthy by aviation authorities if it meant much cheaper flights?



I don’t consider a HA any different than glasses. People wear glasses that haven’t been certified by the FDA as safe. I don’t have any fear of going blind when I order my glasses from China to save money. And, I don’t consider regulations on aviation in the same ballpark as a HA.
Bad analogy…