Paying too much for Hearing Aids?

(no subject)

I was amazed to find such huge variances between what various audiologists charge for the same hearing aid (it occurs with almost ALL brands). For instance, one person can be given a price of $2800 per aid while another person is given the price of $1600 for the SAME hearing aid. The field is not regulated so the bottom line is BE CAREFUL and do your homework because they can charge whatever they can get away with. Two good sites to read for information are www.ahearingaid.com and www.saveonhearingaids.com. Believe me, whatever you’re looking for check prices out online. Jeanne

I agree, its best to check out different sites that offer the same product before buying any.


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Jeanne, why would you want the government to fix the price on hearing aids? They don’t really fix the price on anything else in the private sector, so why pick on hearing aids?

It is also important to consider what the price of a hearing aid includes. What accessories are included with the aid? How many follow up visits do you get free? What kind of adjustments are made free? How long is the warranty? Does the warranty include loss and damage insurance? What is the deductible on that insurance? How many free or discounted batteries are included? Are you dealing with a large chain or just a single independent person? How experienced is the hearing professional and what is his success rate? How well equipped is the office? How good is the hearing professional at programming aids and overcoming problems? How much do repairs cost, are they are guaranteed rate or are the fees variable? How much does it cost to extend the warranty, and does that include loss and damage insurance?

There are dozens of considerations when purchasing a hearing aid. There are ways to strip down bundled services to make the bottom line price look great, but then the company will nickel and dime you to death later on. Other companies charge more but bundle almost everything you need into one package. So it just isn’t as simple as walking into a store, picking up a product off the shelf and walking out with it. Buying a hearing aid is not like buying an iPod.

Your comment that the field is not regulated is a little misleading too. In every state there are licensing requirements along with all kinds of regulations and rules. Sure they don’t include government price fixing, but neither do hospitals.

I also believe that your comment about charging, ‘whatever they can get away with,’ is a little harsh too. You could make the same argument about any business and any industry. Hearing aids, like anything else has a supply and demand aspect to pricing, along with many other considerations I already mentioned.

Your comments imply that hearing aid centers are these renegade unregulated con people looking to stiff the customer any which way they can. This seems a little unfair.

We do not charge whatever we can get away with. When I structure my pricing (I work for ENT’s, not private practice-which typically charges more), I have to decide if I want to charge X dollars and see them as many times as they want for the life of the hearing aid, or do I want to charge them less for the hearing aid/fitting and then nickel and dime them every time they walk in the door. Personally, I do the first option, mainly because people don’t like to be nickel and dime to death and when they feel they are, they stop coming for regular checks and so forth. I want the patients that I fit to wear their aids and never feel like they can’t come into the office of anything. I have worked for places who charge “Office Visit” fees to patients, it ticks them off to no end. Come in on a Monday for a cleaning-$35, come back next Thursday for an adjustment-$35, ect ect ect. However I understand why they do it. If they fit you in 2003, that payment for the aids/fit/follow-up is long gone when they see you in 2007. An audiologist can see 25 patients for annual hearing aid checks in a day, if they did option 1 (charge X dollars and see them all they want) that audiologist made $0 for that day. If it’s a private practice audiology clinic, it will go under very fast.

As far as the websites you find for hearing aids (ie…hearing planet, ect). The reason their pricing is typically lower is two-fold. 1. They do a much higher volume of hearing aids (They don’t fit them, I do, they just purchase a ton). Higher volume thru the manufacturers equates to better pricing of that unit from the manufacturer. 2. That price will typically include the fit, and maybe 4 office visits max in the first year. After that the person that fit the hearing aid can charge you everytime you walk in the door (if they want).

Another thing to keep in mind is the manufacturer charges us a price. They do so by number of units ordered from them per month. For example, I don’t do fit alot of Widex hearing aids, so the manufacturer charges me more ($1200) than an office that fits 10 in a month (they get that same hearing aid for $750). That is one of the reasons you find discrepancies from one office to another.

So please don’t think we are charging “Anything we can get away with”. Believe me, I don’t do this because I wanted to make gobs of money off hearing aids. If I wanted to make a ton of money off of something I sold, I’d be selling BMW’s.