The Real Cost of Hearing Aids?

So…my spouse insisted that I needed to have a second pair of hearing aids to back up the Phonak Slims that are sometime in my future (whenever Phonak can get its QA results up to standards - I heard that the main issue is in reconfiguring the battery size/shape for the new shape).

Now, my Audeo P70s were a cosmetic and mechanical shell of their former glory. I had dropped one in the first year, succumbing to Covid mask whip-off before I learned my lesson. A half hour of car tires later, the left shell would never be the same. Then, over the course of time, recharging became a hit or miss issue - no more green or yellow lights, just red. Often, one or the other or both wouldn’t light up to show it was getting a charge. Very frustrating. Broke a receiver lead and learned how the shell sides are attached through trial and error. That lead would forever fall out (yay Superglue). All in all, very uninspiring to use the aids.

My new audiologist quoted $700 to send them in for a refurb. Only the promise of new shells convinced me to open the wallet. And now the point of all this…

What I got back for my investment was a pair of BRAND NEW hearing aids! I know this because they are physically more compact. I haven’t researched whether later gens of the Audeo P70s were smaller, but my Phonak app still lists them as P70s. They also do things that the originals never did - like switching response in different environments with the AutoSense feature (maybe they have the 5.0 version vs. the 4.0 of the originals). The addition of a brand new charging case and a new consistent operation of my Phonak TV sound cube makes me believe the thought that these are, in fact, new HAs. My audiologist even programmed them for me.

So it kind of begs the question - if I can get something brand new (with even some consulting time included) for $700, why does the same thing run around $4 - $5K normally?

Your thoughts?

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You’re paying for the audiologist service within the cost of the Aids as well.

That’s why they cost more.

You’ve paid for the service already when you first paid for the Aids.


All Phonaks switch depending on environmental factors. Not a new thing.

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The HAs were inherited. Never paid my audiologist for anything before the refurb. For his skillset, $3.3 - $4.3K? Right. I was in the wrong career.

Never with the frequency of this pair (thus my reference to 4.0 vs 5.0). Do you know if the size was updated since Audeos were first introduced? That was the most convincing thing to me.


AutoSense has been in Phonaks since like 2015. Before that AutoSense was there but it was called SoundFlow.

It might be that the transition speech of how fast AutoSense switches has been set differently.

But like I said, it’s not a new feature.

Have a look at the Phonak Pro site but AutoSense 3.0 is Marvel, AutoSense 4.0 is Paradise and AutoSense 5.0 is Lumity.

No firmware update to change AutoSense.

You didn’t mention that in your post.

Most likely it was at the discretion of the Audi then!!

$700 is actually quite a lot. Most people pay $200 if they damage their Aids or loose them or quite often have a free 1 x replacement for each Aid. Called Lost and Damage.

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I am a veteran with military related hearing loss, I get my aids from the VA and I have two set of aids that are one generation apart, but due to my audiologist magic at adjusting them they are basically interchangeable. When I go into an appointment I take both sets of aids and they are both adjusted as needed. I can hear things without my aids but can’t understand conversations, and even with my aids I still have to know that someone is talking to me before I realize someone is talking to me. I have said it before my aids are just as much apart of me as my glasses are anything else.


If I’m understanding correctly you’re comparing hearing aids that you inherited that were never set up for you with new ones that were programmed for your hearing loss? The programming could make a huge difference, plus the older aids might not have been functioning properly.


We pay for far more than the physical cost of manufacturing the aids. There’s research that goes into new innovations for example. this isn’t trivial. Aid have become much better over the last several decades. Bluetooth etc. has been built in to accommodate smart phones and laptops. sound quality is better. All this has to be designed. My guess is that the cost of manufacturing is not all that much. It may be cheaper to send out a new aid than pay to have it repaired. Plus it’s good PR.
The companies want to recoup their initial investment and the cost of running a design program looking for innovation. Hence the large initial cost to the consumer.


The original purchase price includes the cost of manufacture and the prorated burden of the entire Phonak corporate structure, plus ditto for the audiologist firm. The replacement cost of $700 is more related to the actual cost of production and the processing of the claim. And there may also be some added profit for Phonak baked into their repair/replacement cost structure - these companies don’t like to take losses on any sorts of transactions,

If we are paying for audiologist services - why is there such a wide variance for the cost.

The manufacturers are very secretive about the price audiologists pay.

Audiologists are very secretive about the price they pay also.

That’s why I have somewhat negative feelings about the whole thing. It continues to remind me of my negative experiences shopping for a car back when I was employed and had money.
There’s the Manufacturers suggested price, the windows sticker price, the price of the “deal” the car salesman offers. So many prices and nobody knows (or is saying) which one is a fair price. It was hard to believe there were any “truth in lending” practices involved in buying a car. And now I have that same skepticism about hearing aid shopping. And hearing aids are not a luxury item so there should be some protection when buying them.

Unless I’m delusional and/or wrong - there used to be laws about price fixing etc. And if there are they should apply across the board whatever is being bought/sold.

How much of the cost of research is subsidized by government which happens with research for new drugs to remedy this condition or that. I’m not saying hearing aids are or aren’t but I wonder anyway.



Say the secret woid - a game show hosted by Karl Marx - oh wait I think it was one of the Marx other brothers.

(Each audiologist / business can choose the price themselves. You’re not just paying for the Aids, you’re also paying for their service and experience. )

The secret woid here is CHOOSE … audiologists CHOOSE what they charge and there seems to be few if any regulations that I know of.

I’m not saying ALL audiologists are suspect but left unregulated - its the reason we have laws. But then laws seem to be enforced willy nilly nowadays depending on who / which party is at the top of the heap at the time.

of course not! NO company does. If one goes to a watch repair shop, or a car garage, or anything like that, the workers will charge–that’s how they make their money! I don’t think it’s in any way outlandish that HA manufacturers should charge for their labor and parts.

gas stations, grocery stores, hair salons, used car shops all CHOOSE what they will price too. Not all insurance agencies charge the same fee. You seem to to saying that someone–the government–should set prices that would be standard among all audiologists and hearing aid companies. where else does this happen in the market?: Even in health care and hospital costs, prices can vary widely. How audis choosing what the charge is tantamount to corruption or quasi illegality or evidence of a cartel escapes me.

Very good point. I still believe they are totally new due to the smaller size.

Makes a lot of sense, for sure. For me, the $700 was a very good investment vs. a repurchase for so much more. It certainly makes the wait for my desired HAs easy to do now!

You make many excellent points, and I particularly like the comparison of HA to car purchasing. I was disappointed whem Saturn folded because I really liked their 1 price model. I don’t begrudge HA companies getting a good ROE (and they have certainly invested some of this into innovative technologies) and I also don’t have any issue with an audiologist getting compensated for his or her skills. What I’d certainly like, though, is more transparency and accounting of exactly what is being purchased. Detail the HAs, office visits, supplies, etc. I’m not a business guy, so I can’t say how this would be structured.

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Yes, I agree TRANSPARENCY is sorely missing. There’s no sign outside the audi’s clinic saying what it costs. You have to poke and prod to get information. Like today I finally got the price for coming in to discuss with the audi which hearing aids will benefit me the most. It’s $75, which seems to me if you are going to order hearing aids that $75 ought to be included in the hearing aid purchase. Because after all, your customers can’t see what’s inside your store, they have to come inside to check the merchandise. And if you are charging them $75 just to get in the door that just doesn’t seem right to me.

Some customers might decide to let their feet do the voting and go find another audiologist not so secretive.