Professional Service Fees

I’m in a unique position where I need to use up the balance of an insurance reimbursement account before the end of the year or the money will disappear. My Signia aids are about 5 years old so I figured I would use the money to replace them (insurance covers a fixed % of the cost and the reimbursement account would almost cover everything up to my out of pocket maximum). My previous audiologist retired/sold their practice to a big corporation who doesn’t appear to be covered by my insurance so I’ve been looking around for a new audiologist. I found one that is nearby that seems fairly competent but I was a bit blindsided when they started quoting prices. They gave me the price for the hearing aids ($3300 each but oh well…my out of pocket maximum will keep my costs down). The thing that shocked me was the non-refundable “professional service” fee of ~$800 that is charged above and beyond the cost of the devices. This includes:

  • Fitting and dispensing
  • Probe microphone verification (I think this is real ear)
  • Visits for trial period
  • Validation assessment
  • Programming and adjustment
  • Orientation and counseling (lol…I’ve been wearing hearing aids for 25+ years so not going to get much benefit from this)

The audiologist claimed that this fee could be charged to insurance but honestly I’m kind of skeptical…and I really don’t want to get stuck with an $800 charge. Is it common to unbundle the fitting costs from the device cost? I don’t recall this being done at my previous audiologists practice. Does this fee seem excessive? Any idea what code name this would billed to the insurance company as?

I know the cost of the hearing aids themselves is probably high too, but as long as it gets billed through my insurance my out of pocket costs would be minimal even though the insurance payout will be huge (sad state of our healthcare system…).

Pricing can be misleading. He may bill the insurance company for the full $7400 but only get $4000 back. Be clear on what you’re responsible for. Unbundling is talked about some–no idea how common it is. Those prices do seem excessive–sounds like prices in a big city with expensive real estate expenses.

Sounds like a lot to me, especially if you’re paying 6600 for the devices already. Maybe it doesn’t matter as much as insurance is covering it, but I’m pretty sure you’d be able to find a better price elsewhere if you are looking to get them for less

+1 (I agree w. MDB) 20 characters required

I had a great experience with an outfit called ziphearing.com. I got referred to a participating audiologist, which happened to be the one i’d selected after my guy had retired. After testing and settling on what brand/type was best for me, we placed the order through ziphearing, which sent the aids to the audiology office. The turnaround was very quick.

I cannot recall if I paid ziphearing their price (about $5k vs audiologist’s advertised price of about $6,600) or whether I paid them my co-pay and they billed BCBS for the $2500 allowed under my Basic plan. I do recall that either way they handled the insurance paperwork. The price included the followup work on any adjustments, so they were sending something back to the audiologist for their time, in addition to whatever they were kicking back on the aids themselves.

I was a very happy camper with this experience.

You may want to check out idealhearing.com or ziphearing.com as someone else mentioned.
I went with idealhearing.com for my new HA and saved about $2K from the local prices. Now this includes fitting and one follow up appointment after the initial fitting. So if I had to go back for future fittings it was $50/visit. This is for a HAS not an audiologist. But I have the programming software so I did not need to go back for fitting. What you loose by not having bundled services is yearly hearing test, 6 month cleanings. But even if I went for say 4 times a year over the course of 4 years to my HAS that would be less than $1K which is less that the $2K more for the local price. Also $800 nonrefundable service charge to be fitted with HAs is, frankly, a rip off. In my area if you are getting custom molds with the HA the professional service charge should not be over $600(includes cost of molds), without custom molds service charge should be no more than $300 for the persons time. Audiologists will usually cost more than a HAS.

If I was presented that as an estimate I’d shop around. I’ve been wearing HAs for ten plus years in a major metro area & I’ve never seen such a charge. Good luck!

Thanks everyone for confirming my suspicions. I decided to schedule a consult with another practice for tomorrow and will cancel at the $800 fee place.

Keep us posted on this journey, it is an interesting topic