Professional quality hearing aids under $200? Biggest news in decades

Have you heard the story of ihear and its founder? This should be the news of the decade.

There is a following article in http://hearingmojo.com/ihear-hd-hearing-aid/ . I Like to hear comments from audiologist and what they think is their future in this quickly changing technology. Are you willing to sell low cost hearing aids in your practice? Are you willing to change the way you package the sales of hearing aids? What do you think is the future of the big six manufacturers of hearing aids, do you think they will change their pricing or die? Love to read your comments. Thank you.

Please read the article in Mojo and the following comments. ( there are other powerful articles and links) Mr. Adnan Shennib is a brilliant man who used to own Insound medical that developed the very expensive Lyric hearing aid. He recently sold the company for $169 million dollars. He is out to change the world of hearing aids and help millions of people. In the following comments of the article, Mr. John Frank tell the story of how in the 1980’s when he worked for Starkey, he was able to make a top of the line hearing aid for $39. that could be sold to dispensers for $149 and they could sell it for $499.00. He was out of the job soon after that and was not able to see the idea come to the market.
I don’t know about you, but I’m upset about the way millions of us are left in silence ( cannot hear) because a device that can be produce for under $100. can only be purchased for thousands of dollars. While Costco, Sam club and others have open the door to lower cost, is not low enough, they are also bound by the corporations to keep prices high and they are making record sales and millions in the process. There is no transparency in the HA industry, almost no competition and the cost of hearing aids to dispensers is kept in secrecy. I’m using the forums to share information and my own frustration in hopes of raising awareness that can bring about change.
I know I speak for millions of people out there. According to a recent article in HLM 17% In the US report a hearing loss. Please go to any forum or media outlet that you may have access to and share information. Information and knowledge is great power to do good. Together we can bring change that can help millions of people that are suffering because they can’t hear.

Users will have to sign a waiver form testifying that they have either had their hearing checked by a medical professional or are skipping a medical evaluation while acknowledging they are aware that the FDA strongly recommends that anyone who has trouble hearing and wants to acquire a hearing aid should seek medical advice first. The FDA requires the medical waiver for direct-to-consumer sales of hearing aids bypassing audiologists, licensed hearing aid dispensers, or other medical professionals.

This is the problem we will continue to have with the public…I would love to fit everyone that can’t afford a $2k-$6k set of hearing aids in a $200 hearing aid. That would be wonderful. Everyone could hear better at such a low cost. The only problem is it will never happen in a clinical setting. Yeah, you may order these online and then somehow set them yourself…but you won’t be able to have our help doing it.

Because we have to live in the real world. In the real world, at best I can take on 20-25 new patients a month. Let’s say I sell 40 of these things. That is $8,000. After paying just rent and my 3 employees…that $8,000 is gone. How am I going to pay myself, my utilities, my equipment, calibration fees, taxes, inventory, marketing, etc.?

So the answer is no, $200 hearing aids will never be dispensed from an audiologist. They could only stay in business for about a week before going bankrupt.

I don’t think they will do either. They will continue to advance their products under the same model, and there will always be low-cost options that provide some help for some people.

The cheap aids that they are talking about my work for a few people but when you have the type of issues I have they just will not do the job. The only way that the best aids will ever get lower in price is when everyone that needs them get aids. Then they will have to numbers needed to cover the cost and possibly lower prices. Also I have found that the audiologist have to make a living too. So there has to be either enough mark up to cover that or you buy the aids at the cheaper price and pay the audiologist for their expense and their wages.

In the Mojo story that I mentioned above, Mr. John Frank tells his story of his experience with starkey (please read the article) Link in #1 post) He was able to make a $39. hearing aid that could be sold to audiologist for $149, they could then sell them for $499, a mark up of $300 per aid. What is happening today is that, hearing aid consumers have information that was no available in the past. One example, you can Google “why hearing aids cost so much?” and you will find many articles that are fully documented and some from people in the hearing aid industry that will tell you that the hearing aid market is plain and simple “taking advantage of people in need”. The founder of ihear, Adnan Shennib is an insider and sold his company for 169 millions. He has the knowledge and resources to build another company making high end hearing aids, but has decided that he wants to help people and in the process change the way the hearing aid industry operates.
It is people like Him, visionaries who think outside the box who are able change the world. There are many books written about companies that refused to listen to consumers and as the market changed they died. IBM and polaroid just to mention a couple. According to many reports the big six (6) hearing aids companies will not dominate the market in the near future unless they change their ways.

Highly trained audiologist will have a job even if the market changes, but they will have to share their job with other less trained technicians, it is already happening at Costco who is training their own technicians. Audiologist pay and job security will not be what it is today. People who have severe and hearing loss will probably be the ones that will see the Doctors of Aud. Moderate to high hearing loss will probably benefit the most from the changing technology in the near future.

Motorcade gave a good argument of why in the real world a $200 hearing aid will not be possible. In the circumstances that he presented he would loose money. Audiologist are not alone, many businesses have changed their ways in order to stay afloat and while a $200 aid may not be possible, perhaps a top of the line $500 aid, plus fee per visit may be the answer that can help both Audiologist and consumers.

The idea that will change is that the price for the aids and the price for the care cannot be coupled in the future. The current situation where the price of care is buried in the price of aids is no longer a healthy business model. Every nice audiologist would be looked at as a criminal because he cannot explain why the aids are that overpriced.

Sam Fuzer, CEO of Embrace hearing wrote an excellent article for Huff post, " Americans are paying to much for hearing aids". He agrees with your statement Markismus and offers some strong comments to Audiologist.

For those of us who have typical high frequency hearing loss, 8 KHz and above, a simple “game ear” that is digital and has adjustable frequency gain could help many people hear better… but the good ones sell for over $200 each. My hearing is just wear-and-tear, happily I had good-enough hearing until after I retired at age 64.

For under $2,000 a pair, that is a possibility, love my Kirkland Sig 5. HAs. And yes, I have been examined by MDs and Audiologists a few times, all agree I needed HAs, now got them and love hearing the birds again, some other sounds, not so much.

Please name the “reports” that are not actually advertising for another company.

I see the ‘cheap’ aids as helping mild to mildly moderate hearing loss. Where the lose is a flat across the frequency range. But I can not see them helping someone like me that has notch hearing loss and also severe hearing loss.

Respectfully, I have read so much that I have not kept track of the reports. I will look into it. ( That is why I said to Google it and do the reading) Yes, some of the reports are from people that sell lower cost HA, so I asked myself this question after reading some of their reports; are these people telling the truth? After reading quite a bit, in this and other forums, I think most are telling the truth. If they were not, they would be liable to lawsuits.

— Updated —

I do not believe that hearing aids should cost as much as they do, but I do not believe that aids that do the job for the ones of us with complicated hearing loss can ever be that cheap. And it may be that the extra cost has to be for the adjustments and the time it takes to get the aids correctly set. For my hearing loss I have been told that I need aids with as many channels as possible. So that they the aids can be adjusted for my hearing loss. Not sure why but my audiogram does not seem to follow that. But anyway I am luck and I do not worry about the cost of my aids any more seeing I am in the VA system and my aids are taken care of for me. But I was raised to believe that you take care of what ever you have and if you are given something you even take care of that more.

— Updated —

I do not believe that hearing aids should cost as much as they do, but I do not believe that aids that do the job for the ones of us with complicated hearing loss can ever be that cheap. And it may be that the extra cost has to be for the adjustments and the time it takes to get the aids correctly set. For my hearing loss I have been told that I need aids with as many channels as possible. So that they the aids can be adjusted for my hearing loss. Not sure why but my audiogram does not seem to follow that. But anyway I am luck and I do not worry about the cost of my aids any more seeing I am in the VA system and my aids are taken care of for me. But I was raised to believe that you take care of what ever you have and if you are given something you even take care of that more.

No, that is not a reason to think they are telling the truth. If it is a fairly minor “error” or something that is just misleading, it will probably be ignored. If it is really a serious lie and it can’t be spun as a misunderstanding, they will get a cease and desist letter. There are ways they can do it and not really name who they are talking about, but you know who it is, and those are really hard to do anything about.

The safe thing to do is not believe any company’s website when they are talking about a competitor or competitor’s product, especially if they are trying to make it look like a news article.