I am currently shopping for hearing aids, and I am socked at how much hearing clinics want for their hearing aids versus what Costco charges.
I live in Canada, so you U.S. forum members keep that in mind when I mention prices quoted to me. The Canadian dollar currently is down to $0.725 US, and more typically has been running at about $0.75 US, plus or minus 2 or 3%, for the past 7 years or so. So, we Canadian expect to pay about 1/3 more in Canadian dolalrs then you U.S. buyers pay.
I got an audiogram done at a local branch of one of the largest hearing clinic chains, and it correctly verified that my hearing, which I have been tracking for years, now finally takes a serious enough dive starting at 2000 hz, reaching -70 to -75 db by 4000 hz. This has made hearing in general, and conversations particuarly, more difficult to the point that I am now having to say way too often “Sorry, what did you say?” And my wife and my adult son are both saying I need to the TV at too high a volume level for them to find comfortable.
The chain hearing clinic told me I would benefit from their “best” offering, an Oticon Real 1, with Rechargeable battery charger, 8mm open base cup, which apparently is “normally” priced at $10,250 for a pair! Their current “sale” pricing, good to end of 2023, is $7350. And, our Provincial Government here in Alberta kicks in $900 in assistance, so the pair would cost me $7350 Canadian and will include the TV optical / Bluetooth signal box (which would apparently normally cost $250 extra). And, the HAs suppsoedly have only a maximum of a 5 year life, after which no factory repairs are even available anymore! That means that the pair of Oticon Real1 HAs would cost me $7350 / 60 months = $123 per month for the next 5 years, at which point I would have to repeat the financial flogging.
A pair of Oticon Real 2 instead would cost me $6000 net, with no specific explanation on what I would be giving up versus the Real 1. Only that the Real 1 "is better’.
A pair of Oticon 3 would cost me $5550, again no explanation od specificaly what I would be giving up.
I did not ask about any ongoing maintenance, service, or repair costs, having already gone way past my financial comfort level.
This location does NOT provide an audiogram you get to take home. They only display your audiogram on a computer screen during the visit. You can apparently get a printout if you pay “an administrative charge”.
I am reading online that this is typical of chain hearing clinics. Apparently, they all use a “high value added” pricing model.
None of this left me with any good feelings.
I have read good things about Costco’s hearing aid offerings and pricing. I read that they currently offer 3 models of HA here in Canada:
The Jabra Enhance Pro 10 (about to be replaced by the Pro 20 which will support the new “broadcast Bluetooth” standard). I am reading in multiple places that this is either identical to, or at least almost identical to a Resound Omnia 9 series HA. It has what looks like a GREAT app that would work great with my iPhone.
The Philips Heartlink 9040, which is simialr to the Jabra, but whose app is not nearly as good, which is a big negative for me, as I am technical enough to always be striving for adjustability and optimization.
a Rexton BiCore C R-Li model that I dismissed from consideration very early because i have been told that users have reported a high number of issues with it.
The Jabra Enhance Pro 10 (or Pro 20 if available now) looks like the best of the 3 choices for me, and the Costco Canada price is $2100 Canadian. Which means that after the $900 provincial contribution, my net cost is $1200 Canadian (about $900 US). And by the way, that includes the “Premium” charger that enables 3 daily recharges when traveling.
Costco also says right on their Canadian website:
- Costco value pricing
- Premium technology
- Complimentary hearing tests, follow-up appointments, hearing aid cleaning and checkups
- Complimentary loss and damage coverage (with no deductible)
- Complimentary warranty periods (warranty varies by model)
- A 180-day trial period
And, the local Costco is exactly 1 kilometer from our home. And, Costco and the Jabra both support remote assistance and reprogramming as well.
And, from what I read online, apparently, “Premium technology” does mean a “premium” HA, not a middle or low range HA in the actual HA manufacturer’s line-up.
So, how can I POSSIBLY justify $7350 ($123 per month) versus $1200 ($20 per month)?
Can the Oticon Real 1 REALLY be $7350/$1200 = 6 times “better” than the Jabra Enhance Pro 10 or Pro 20? Ok, taking out the $900 “fixed” Provincial contribution, can the Oticon really be $8250 / $2100 = 4 times better??
And, while Costco charges ZERO for maintenance and service and reprogramming, I notice that the chain clinic did not volunteer any such promise.
I don’t “see” any meaningful differences in technology in the advertising for the 2 products. They use all the same phrases, and both fashionably focus a lot on reducing background noise, which is one of my major objectives, and on “narrowing” the hearing cone in a noisy environment which is another key objective.
What am I missing here that could explain the wild difference in pricing?
I’m asking because although I normally seek out “the best” or at least the “best I can afford”, the chain Clinic offering would be a financial burden for me and my wife (both retired on fixed benefits), whereas the Costco offering would be absorbable in the family budget as opposed to a financial flogging that would need repeating every 5 years.
So, again, what am I missing?