"The Hearing Aid Conversation that needs to happen" (opinion piece about OTC hearing aids)

An alternative opinion on OTC hearing aids


About the author:

Brandon Sawalich is president and CEO of Starkey, a hearing aid manufacturer based in Eden Prairie. On Twitter: @BrandonSawalich.


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Hedging his bets no doubt @MDB? The day that hearing aid manufacturers start caring about clients, I will eat some of my hats… :joy: :upside_down_face: :rofl: . As it stands just now, we are not even clients, the A.uD’s and HIS are the clients, we are just the idiots who pay the money, at vastly inflated prices, so why should the hearing aid manufacturers be interested in us, these manufacturers are only interested in profits, and their “Margins” aren’t slim, we are a mere cash cow…. As it stands, they clearly run a cartel to inflate the fair hearing aid market price, they don’t want OTC to muscle in on their lucrative territory…. BTW, I don’t believe the A.uD’s/HIS are making a killing, it is the manufacturers who make the vast profits, and make the A.uD’s dance to their tune, either by coercion or threats of withdrawing their products, the whole system is corrupted…. As for Bose OTC’s, something stinks there, so perhaps they were unofficially bought out, or given an offer they couldn’t refuse? The hearing aid manufacturers only care about themselves, they have us over a barrel, and treat us with complete contempt, tis all smoke & mirrors, throwing in a little subterfuge to muddy the waters, saying they agree with OTC aids, whom are they trying to kid…. Tis good PR though…. Apologies, rant over :upside_down_face:


Not disagreeing with what’s being said here. But I don’t think there’s a company on the planet that wants to have any type of competition


Massive difference here in comparison to other manufacturers @hass5744 …… Most companies do not use the cartel method, hearing aid manufacturers keep their prices artificially high to maximise profit, but what is really despicable, is they do this with contentious & pretentious forethought, fleecing folks with a hearing disability, whom have no other choice but to buy their wares, I have no problem with companies making a profit, it’s the way of commerce, but it sticks in my craw, profiteering on someone’s disability, other folks, may think that is quite acceptable….

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This is interesting article thank you for sharing. This is a very valuable market. Otc hearing aids offer the opportunity to enhance hearing care options especially to people who have to pay 100% of the cost. There are difficult balances that have to be met. Yes the customer is important but there will be a need to balance service to cost. That what happen to Bose hearing aids. There was no why in there eyes to make enough money to continue the manufacturing and service of there hearing aids. I was not surprised to see them leave they did it with there prior sound device. To serve otc hearing aid are going to need to offer good quality product backed by service. If they miss the mark you are likely to high cost hear aids which defeats the reason to have the OTC concept or cheeply made product with poor service. I look forward to seeing how this all pans out in the end. It important that this need to be met. The trick is how to balance everything including expectations by consumers.

Kind of like gas companies


Not really @hass5744…. Gas companies are not selective on who they fleece, they ain’t discriminatory like hearing aid manufacturers :upside_down_face:

I’m guessing pharmaceutical companies would also earn your ire?

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Absolutely, another cartel that profits from the less fortunate.


Yeah @MDB, most definitely…… Big Pharma, a cess pit…… But, I look at things from a different perspective, a British perspective, we frown upon making excessive profits out of folks disabilities, I think most of us Brits believe, yes make a profit, but please do not fleece those whom are unfortunate enough to have a disability, they didn’t ask to be disabled…… Your side of the pond, I believe most folks don’t have a problem with making excessive profit from medical procedures, tis just a culture clash…. I don’t have a problem with that, it is your truth, what you were brought up to believe in, but my truth is inherently different from yours, and never the Twain shall meet…. Cheers Kev :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I was kidding. But I’m not sure which is worse. Fleecing a select group or fleecing everyone.

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You know @hass5744 , at present here in the UK, we pay approximately £8.65 per gallon for gas, that’s about 10.60 USD, per gallon! And the UK is an oil production country, probably costs about say £1.50 to produce per gallon, reseller makes £ 0.30 per gallon, £0.20 per gallon profit to the petroleum companies, the rest is UK tax, so every gallon of fuel sold in the UK makes around £6.60 for the exchequer, you probably pay far less in the USA, but it is our government whom are fleecing us…. Cheers Kev :upside_down_face:

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wow…we the consumers are jsut idiots…cash cows…companies are cartels that inflate fair prices…vast profits…dance to their tune…etc etc ad nauseum.

All that’s quite inflammatory, don’t cha think? All that’s left to do is line the bastards up against a wall and shoot ‘em. Except that…all those bastards turn out to be your neighbor, or your aunt, or your friend’[s mother that’s had you to dinner a hundred times and is a really caring and devoted person. she doesn’t put on an evil and calculating face when she goes to work. But she needs to be paid. Don’t you, kevels? so yeah, hearing aids aren’t provided at cost. And then, what about research? What about integrating new technology, and adapting it to this specific application? that can take years. Again, people need to be paid.
Oh geeze i could go on but it’[s too exhausting and there’s a contingent here who are just going to hate on Audiologists and HA manufacturers no matter what. Me? I’[m grateful that these remarkable devices exist and are available, even to a low income person like me. But go ahead and bite the hand that’[s given you your hearing.

Attributing the worst possible motives across the board to entire industries and professions, as a matter of course, is…wrong. For heaven’s sake, think things through and use your everyday experience to consider that maybe, jsut maybe, people often go into their professions out of a desire to help people. That’s actually what’s happened with hearing aids!!! Never before in human history have so many deaf and near deaf people been helped and made able to hear. Go ahead and hate. But acknowledge this truth.

There a huge profit for providers and audiologist. I had a price sheet printed from my insurance company. Insurance paid $3100.00 for a set, that’s 2 phonak paradise 70r life. The provider told me if I bought directly from them the price was $5600.00.


Aye @jeffrey, I hate no one, in fact my wife says I tend to befriend lots of folks whom no one else likes, I guess I like to see the good in all folks, and I tend to ignore some of there bad traits…… Mostly, like yourself, your other points are perhaps totally invalid, so to me it’s pointless arguing with someone who can’t or won’t see the other person’s perspective, it would seem it is only your point of view that counts…. I am completely okay with that, your opinion’s are important to you, but in the grand scheme of things, perhaps not very important to everyone else, but such is life…… Have a good day Jeffrey, cheers Kev :upside_down_face:

I wouldn’t try to argue with the guy. If you take money out of the equation then going through an audiologist probably gives you the best outcome. A couple of things though:

A system that provides a minority with the best outcome at the expense of the rest (because the best is the only thing on offer and the rest can’t pay) is morally bankrupt.

Otc hearing aids won’t make going to an audiologist illegal. They can still operate just like they’ve always done but it’s not their business if I buy a Samsung hearing device.

No-one knows what otc hearing aids might be capable of in a few years time. They’ll only get better as more and more people use them. They have the great advantage that the person making the adjustments is the same person hearing the results. For those with straightforward fitting requirements they might eventually provide better outcomes. For others, the audiologists will still be there.


“like yourself, your other points are totally invalid…” LOL! I hope that was inadvertent grammar on your part. Otherwise, we’ve got the ol’ kettle calling the pot black, right?

I can see the ‘other’ perspective here. It just struck me that no one was taking a more nuanced perspective. Funny to be dismissed for suggesting that people are most often honest and try to help their clients, rather than scheming crooks just looking to fleece everyone they meet.

Agreed @d_Wooluf, competition drives down the price…. OTC may eventually effect the price of aids stateside, hopefully? Here in the UK, hearing aids are free at point of service via the NHS, the high street A.uD’s, have a very challenging time…. All the major hearing aid outlets like, Specsavers, Boots Hearing Care (Heavily discounted & owned by Sonova), and Costco UK, also drive the prices down, we probably pay about half the price you pay in the States, for Phonak top end aids, simply because it’s a more level playing field, NHS are probably one of the largest dispensers of hearing aids worldwide, they probably dispense hundreds of aids per week, so their buying power is significant, I once many years ago, had access to the NHS hearing aid price catalog, it was approximately 1/10th of the high street prices, I don’t suppose that’s changed much…. quite illuminating to say the least, and the hearing aid manufacturers would not be selling to the NHS at a loss, or out of the goodness of their hearts…. Cheers Kev :wink:

Thank you for your reply…. My apologies @jeffrey. I am very dyslexic, a scourge in my school days, when dyslexia was relatively unknown, and I was treated as the classroom dunce…… That left a lasting legacy, for many years, I was told by my teachers, I was just thick! So I had no other choice but to believe them….By my late 20’s it eventually dawned on me, perhaps I wasn’t as stupid as I once thought…. For instance, mostly any job I did, once I learned the ropes, I was usually promoted very quickly…. I realised, there are different forms of intelligence, mines was problem solving, and I learned practical hands on skills very quickly…… I recall many years ago, I used to drink on a regular basis with 5 University Lecturers (all were MENSA) every single one of them hadn’t an ounce of common sense between them, obviously they were all high academic achievers, but they had no abilities whatsoever with anything practical…. Nowadays, I still have friends in Academia, Doctors, and even one, world renowned, Professor of Biology (retired now, I believe?), but I suppose I prefer more practical folk, I am quite literally a Jack of all trades, and master of none, Carpentry is my forte, Plumbing, Scaffolding, Civil Engineering, Supervising challenging individuals with Criminal Justice, are all skills I possess, along with BSL (British Sign Language) I am at the age of 65 learning a new skill, Leatherwork, it intrigues me, and I love learning new skill’s, I sure given time, I will gain enough practical skill, to turn out things in a presentable manner…… Lastly Jeffery, I have no axe to grind with you, gone are the days, when I lose my temper, and go off half cocked, your opinion is important to you, and vice versa, we live with different values, what is important to me, might seem irrelevant to you…. As it should be, cheers Kev :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: