What do Hearing Aids Really Cost?

#1

I stumbled on to this article from CBC, our publicly funded broadcaster in Canada. It is 6 years old, but I suspect prices of HA’s have decreased if anything in the last 6 years. So what do they cost - in what I suspect is $US on average?

Manufacturer’s cost - $150 each
Price to Audiologist - $500 each
Audiologist price to customer - $2000 each

It is no wonder that Costco that drives a hard bargain from suppliers can sell a premium level model for $800 each. They are probably still marking up by 100% or more.

Something to keep in mind when shopping for hearing aids and wondering what you pay for…

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#2

I agree that there is a lot of markup, but from what I’ve gathered from other audiologists on the forum their prices are notably higher than $500 per hearing aid. I think it’s largely a matter of volume. VA and Costco likely get great prices. The audiologist in private practice who sells 20 hearing aids a month, not so much.

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#3

I hear what you say, but it makes me wonder what the bigger companies like Connect Hearing pay for hearing aids. They may not drive as hard a bargain as Costco, but buying power does have an impact.

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#4

Not surprising at all. Look at the cost of clothing, furniture and many other items. They all have HUGE markups, yet people still buy them!

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#5

The manufacturing cost of a hearing aid may be $150 in materials but that can not include the cost of the equipment to manufacture the aid nor the cost of development etc. I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that if you roll up all the costs of producing a hearing aid is only $150. The marketing alone would be more than that. People also complain about the cost of the audiologist. Most audiologist have a doctorate degree, the cost of the building etc and their cost include 3 years of service. I think a good audiologist is worth it and will make the difference between having a good experience with your hearing aid or not.

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#6

It’s easy to look at the apparent cost of manufacturing and forget the cost of developing, selling and supporting a product. Hearing aids are relatively low volume devices and they aren’t simple to sell and support.

Additionally, the audiologist went to school, which is not inexpensive, and it’s not reasonable to think an audiologist will work for minimum wage.

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#7

The article included a quote from an audiologist: “Andrea Richardson-Lipon, an audiologist based in Selkirk, Man., said she doesn’t dispute that analysis, but she noted that the final price of hearing aids includes a bundle of services.

So there we have it - to dramatically decrease the cost of HA’s for many, including myself, simply unbundle the services.

I decided to go the DIY route. But if I was going to a clinic it would be a minimum of visits. Appointments are tiresome. And I would not want to pay for services that I’m not going to get, or to subsidize others who need or want to make many visits.

Anyway, for those of you who are happy with the current HA business model, thanks for my free audio test and short trial. I would have been happy to pay for both, but others were happy to pay my way. :upside_down_face:

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#8

FYI: I bought a set of Starkey Muse iQ I2400 BTE PP aids they came from India there was a label on them that had the cost on them it was $476.51 no that is not a typo. They were made in Mexico shipped to India for that cost. now by the Time I got them here in the states with customs,shipping,etc. my cost was $700 each these sell in the US for $3000+ each Do you think we are getting ripped off a little?

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#9

My audiologist, who sold me a set of Resound Quattros for a better price than most would have ($5800) mentioned to me at my 5th fitting visit in about as many weeks, that most of her patients see her once for a fitting, and then never again for any more fittings. I think when you factor in the number of people who are fitted with hearing aids but end up not using them, and the number of people who simply accept whatever original fitting they’re supplied with, bundled services turn out to be very lucrative for private practice audiologists. Even if I were paying a pretty hefty hourly rate for services, it would be lot of visits before I’d span the distance between the fair price of just the aids and the price I paid for them. In the US, once we can buy “real” aids easily and directly, I don’t see how the bundled services model can survive. At least not in its present form.

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#10

My audi does not bundle anything with the HAs. I got two ReSound Linx Quattro Premiums with charger and custom earmolds, and fittings for about $4900. I’ve been back twice for small adjustments. I think there will be no charge for those. Every 6 months she wants to see me for follow up and cleaning. I think she said those visits would be $65.

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#11

Read the above same article. My HIS said it was around
the same price for the dispenser to buy wholesale
The numbers are accurate. May not be for all.

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#12

That is amazing. My nephew just got a quote from Beltone for $6,000. He ended up at Costco for $2,000. All in the U.S.

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#13

The price to manufacture a hearing aid according to the CBC article is a bit out of whack. They should also factor in the price to own and operate the equipment that goes into hearing tests and maintenance equipment to keep hearing aids running up to par.

I always wonder how dentists charge such outrageous prices for one appointment. But when you add up the price of the dentist’s equipment and retail space rental, hygienists salary, etc. it makes sense. But it still hurts! I think audiology is in the same category.

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#14

Have a dentist friend and a little insight into what goes into setting up a dental clinic. My wild guess is ten times what it costs to set up an audiology clinic. Operating costs would vary a lot with both, but I’d guess twice the space and twice the staff as well per dentist compared to per audiologist.

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#15

IMO, there is a big difference between dentists / orthodontists and audiologists. I know a dentist and he lives very well. He also went to school for years and invested a lot in his practice. I can’t say I know any audiologists very well, but I don’t think they earn anywhere near what dentists earn.

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#16

Is there a more or less common standard for the cost of services such as REM in a bundle? Also, if you are using a re-configurable HA, does the Rem have to be redone each time the HA is configured? Unbundling may be more costly than it first seems.

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#17

The cost is not in the materials or components, it is in the development.

I know, for example, that in 2015, Starkey spent almost as much money on machines to make their hearing aids as was spent to build the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium, somewhere around 800 million dollars.

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#18

There’s no dispute that manufacturers of many products spend a bundle in a myriad of ways, and yet can still sell their products for relative peanuts and make a tidy profit. The bottom line here is that the HA manufacturers make a profit selling aids to clinics for a small fraction of the retail price. The clinic business-model typically include a bundle of services that many of their clients do not need or use. There’s some fat there, and as Costco has demonstrated conclusively, a huge opportunity to about halve the typical retail price and still provide exemplary service. If only they would unbundle! Anyway, as Costco and off-the-shelf take bigger slices out of the pie, the typical clinic can either lean harder on its “service” angle, or compete by unbundling etc. I expect them to mostly stick to the former. I don’t really blame them, same as I don’t blame retail stores that were loathe to open on weekends. But times do change.

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#19

No standard prices I’m aware of. One should be able to save an REM fitting and modify multiple times as needed. Still, I can see how some self-fitters could end up spending more than buying bundled. For one thing, if nobody local will do an REM, or charges a crazy amount for it necessitating a long drive or whatever, then sure, there could be unforeseen costs. Some of use might even pay extra out of principle though.

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#20

I would say a REM measurement and subsequent adjustment to target takes about 15 minutes. And yes it should be redone when there is anything significant changed in the fitting. So far I have had 3 REM test/adjustments, and will have another one today. Hoping that is the last. That may be above average in time required, but that is my experience.

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