Why do hearing aids cost so much?

I have bought three pairs of aids from China directly. I have bought a programmer on ebay and found programming them fairly simple using my audiologists data. They cost about $200 a pair!!
I really wonder why the average cost is over $2000. Can anyone explain what they think they are getting paying so much.? The ones I bought do not have molded inserts but seem to work ok for me.
FYI I am an ex BBC electrical engineer so have a long history of electronic devices and audio.
Thanks for your comments.

Well good for you for being all capable and learned up. Not everyone is. Not everyone would have the inclination to source out everything and then figure out how to run it and set the aids to a satisfactory level.
That $200 may also just be bare-a$$ slightly more than PSAP’s “hearing aids” for all we know.
We all agree these things are expensive.

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I am a retired electronic Tech/Software Engineer, but I do not feel I have the knowledge I need to setup my own hearing aids. But I am also extremely lucky that I get my aids from the USA Veterans Administration due to my hearing loss being military service related. Now before I was accepted and it was determined that my hearing loss was service related, I did look into getting hearing aids from online that was programed by Audi over the internet. But really I am glad I never had to deal with it.

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It is the health care system of the USA. Remember, HAs are prescription items.

Have you noticed the issues with the cost of prescription medications? In the news regularly.

We need to overhaul our system, which is antiquated vs. 32 other first world countries.

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We don’t need socialist system where the government says who lives or dies. That is what so many of the other countries have.

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Seriously?! The ol’ death panels malarkey?
But I’ll add that my socialist country/province does not have assistance for HA’s. So there.

Edit: apparently as of Jan 1 2020 BC offers up to $2000 per ear only for people with “income assistance, hardship assistance and disability assistance”.

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The obvious issue I see with the US system is the impact of private healthcare insurance companies. They seem to play these games of forcing those with insurance and needing hearing aids into buying way overpriced aids from their hearing aid providers. Seems to be a cozy game between the providers, manufacturers, and insurance companies where there are huge premiums and profits for all involved. I think the best thing the US could do is force insurance companies to allow the consumer to determine where they get hearing aids from, and allow them to shop around for the best deal. The deductible should apply when the cost goes over a certain insured value, and not be deducted up front. For example pay the first $1500 of cost, and let the consumer pay the rest. They can then go to Costco and get free aids, or pay out of their pocket for anything beyond that.

Our province in Canada does provide some coverage for HA’s when you are over 65, but that may be the exception. It seems unfortunate that the US has gotten themselves into such a mess with health care. I don’t see any way out. The US spends double the amount per capita on healthcare that Canada does, but ranks 35th in the world for average life expectancy. Canada is 14th for life expectancy, at half the cost.

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Before I got my hearing aids from the Veterans Administration, I looked in to insureance that would cover hearing aids. What I found was that I would have to pay the insurance company up front for my aids, then the insurance would dictate where I got my hearing aids, and I would only get a max of 3 fitting adjustments And at that time I would only be able to get hearing aids every 5 years. I did the calculations and I would over time pay over $12000 for a pair of at that time of $4000 hearing aids that I could get unlimited appointments and supplies. Even in countries that do supply hearing aids you end up paying for them due to the higher taxes.

How are Hearing aids prescription items?
I never had a prescription to get mine and it is the rare insurance company that covers hearing aids which is one of the reasons for a prescription, so they can be billed.

They are by definition medical devices.

Your audiogram is your prescription. You can’t get hearing aids without one. They come with factory settings, all the adjustments made are to get them to your prescription.

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You don’t have any death panels in stock?! What kind of Canadian are you, eh? I keep my death panels in my small igloo. On account of my big igloo being too full of dog sleds, polar bears, and back bacon.

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Over the counter hearing aids and smart ear buds are part of the answer. As technology improves and larger players such as Apple and Bose enter the market, it will put pressure on the closed hearing aid industry to be more competitive.

Obama care certainly isn’t. You can keep your doctor. You can keep your plan…

The government is never the answer.

fos1

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Because hearing aids are big business. Just like cars and kitchens. It all about how reasonable the people are that want to buy. If the ego needs something very badly, people will make it their business to make you pay. :slight_smile:

That sounds about $400 minimum.

The non-top segment in the Netherlands is supported by health care and costs up to 320€ for the category 5 aids and can be free for category 3 aids. ( HA’s are categoried by the insurance companies. I have no idea what happened to categories 1 and 2. Apparently, nobody is fitted with them.)
The costs are 25% of the price. So the prices are up to 1300€. These prices have been pulled down severely by the insurance companies, because they don’t allow higher prices to be declared by the hearing aid dispensers.

The top of the line aid are called free-field (vrije veld) and can have any price the resellers want. For the Oticon OPN S1 they range from 3100-4500€. Asking why there is a difference in price tag amounting to 1400€ between resellers always gets the same answer: The hearing aid dispenser has no idea.

For this reason I buy my aids 2nd hand. I paid 320€ for my Bolero B90’s, which are probably able to compete with your Chinese aids. I got a serial HiPro for free, but you can get one from AliExpress for 150€. That’s less than your $400.

The new Noahlink Wireless Programmer can be got for less than 200€, nowadays. And it will be usable on more and more hearing aids.

You haven’t given any information on the kind of programmer nor the kind of hearing aids, so it is hard to compare. But I don’t think that the Asian route is the only way to go. I hope that it is a good one, but you’ll find out when you’re in complex hearing situation such as an area filled with people.

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Is it possible that the ones you are buying directly from China are Counterfeit productions of Licensed, Copyrighted items; Items companies invested research in to produce and the intellectual property has been stolen?

It happens a lot and if it continues, businesses will stop investing into research and that would not be good.

And, as a retired engineer myself, even if I had the specs, I could not build one for the price I can buy one.

I for one have never seen such HA’s. Even if they’re counterfeit, the branded HA on eBay sourced in China are not cheap. Certainly not 200$.

About the cost of manufacure.
I seem to remember a former owner of a HA brand who sold it and financed a startup that sold HA for 200$. Production cost was around 100$, so for every one sold someone in a third world country got one for free. The first generation was sold out.
So I think that is an indication that development costs can’t cover the difference between production costs and price.

Oh, don’t worry, when our model breaks down it always defaults back to the American model of healthcare-for-the-wealthy.

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There is a great chapter in a recently published book, Volume Control, that explains how the hearing aid manufacturers have protected their profits. The book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal’s Book Section, front page last November. It is a good read!

I could go into all the research and development necessary and the computer chips required and the minute details but that doesn’t justify $6000 a pair. Let’s be serious. We’re being taken advantage and with the baby boomers aging it’s a license to print money

Yep, think about how much technology is in the latest line of cell phones. Much more than what is packed into our hearing aids. Cell phones are much cheaper. Yes, HAs are smaller, but size isn’t that much of an issue any longer. My theory is Costco is popular because their pricing is closer to the actual cost of the devices. I cannot believe that those $6,000 hearing aids included an additional $4500 of technology that my current Costco KS9’s does not have.