Why HA prices so secretive?


#21

But how do you know? A professional might be able to get no more out of them, but may know of aids that would work better.


#22

Pricing is insane. I refuse to pay up front for services i may never use.

It is for that reason i went with Zip hearing. Pricing is transparent and they set you up with a local professional. Prior to Zip I inquired about unbundled pricing and i go the deer in the headlights look.

Example with Zip a pair of Starkey soundlens IQ2400 cost $4,500. This includes impressions for aid, 45 day follow up with money back if not satisfied and 3 visits in the first year after initial 45 days. After that it is “al la carte” at about $50/visit.

Contrast that to the bundled price of $6,000. I just don’t see using 30 additional visits (about 10/year over 3 years)

If i pay more in the end at least my money is working for me till I spend it on visits.

My Zip provider does real ear verification as opposed to just using some factory based algorithm and being “in the ball park”.

Yes audiologists are professionals and have office expenses but I have expenses as well and much prefer the Zipapproach

https://www.ziphearing.com/


#23

What about Hearing Revolution?

They too set you up with a local professional, you get 60 days trial period, 1 year of unlimited follow up with the original provider, 2 years of batteries and a 3 year warranty.

For $3,590, so over a $1,000 less than Zip :slight_smile: (It’s call for pricing, I called, lol… No clue why they do that)

Check them out.

Hearing Revolution


#24

I believe I checked out hearing Revolution they refuse to give me the name of the provider until after my purchase I was not comfortable with that was zip I was able to call the provider and get information ahead of time


#25

That’s not how Hearing Revolution works. When you call them they’ll feel you out about what aids you’re interested in and then refer you to a provider that carries that line and get you an appointment. I had a choice of a couple audiologists and picked. You don’t actually buy the aids unless you want to after your appointment.


#26

That’s not how Hearing Revolution works. When you call them they’ll feel you out about what aids you’re interested in and then refer you to a provider that carries that line and get you an appointment. I had a choice of a couple audiologists and picked. You don’t actually buy the aids unless you want to after your appointment.

This. I was told that they had to schedule me because that’s how they make sure the provider honors their pricing. There were few offices in the area and I chose one that was the closest to my work, went there, got the test, discussed the options with the doctor, chose OPN1, they called me couple days later to pay for it and then it was delivered to that office I chose, and I was fitted.


#27

Arguably, even those unbundled prices are high. I’m told that high-end HA’s (e.g. Signia Nx7, Widex 440) can cost as little as $1100/pair through buying groups. So while $3,500 is a whole lot better than $6,500, it still represents a huge markup for those clinics that take advantage.


#28

The lack of transparency is something that bothers me as an Audiologist. This is why all of my hearing aid prices are published in a Price Guide on my website. However, in-order for me to optimize the fitting, I don’t allow an initial fitting and 1 follow-up. My fitting protocol requires a minimum of 3 visits over a 45 day period. Additionally, service plans can range from $1,145 to $2,845 depending on the length of the plan. However, you can just pay per visit. The problem for most people who are price conscious is that I need to charge a minimum of $200 per office visit in order for me to pay the rent, keep my lights on, and feed my family. And I’m just a small operation with no other staff.


#29

$1100 a pair seems on the low side since audiologists complain of Costco selling aids for less than what they can get them for and even Costco is notably more than $1100 a pair.


#30

And yet it’s entirely true, not that all practices are part of buying groups or take advantage of special pricing. Any random clinic can get a pair of high-end HA’s in the $2000 range (depending on brand) in small volumes.


#31

There are other options. First of all, it might be a good thing to see a medical doctor specializing in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) to make sure what the hearing loss is caused by.

Hearing aid pricing should mot be secretive for you. When you go to a typical Audiology practice, after the hearing test is completed he or she will give you a recommendation as to what they think you need When you ask about the price they will give you one. If you are rich and the price does not shock and amaze you, buy what she/he recommends. He/she will do the fitting after the aids are received and then over charge for accessories like batteries (312 size in the AuD offices $2,25 ea. vs. $.25 ea. on line).

Or, if the price sounds ridiculously high (which it is), call several audiology offices and ask for a price for the same model. But first you have to be able to look the audiologist in the eye and tell him you are going to shop around. If they know they are competing for a sale, they usually give a discount. One thing is for sure, they will try to get you to come to the office. If you complain about the price to the original audiologist, or to any of the subsequent ones you talk to, they will try to get you into a less expensive hearing aid with fewer features. For example, my hearing loss is so severe, that I can no longer use a conventional cell phone. Now there are hearing aids that bluetooth directly to your hearing aids. I can’t do without this feature, but a cheaper hearing may lack that ability.

If the price is still ridiculously high, go to Costco. They will run another test and make a recommendation to you. You are seeing a licensed hearing aid specialist, not a AuD (Doctor of Audiology). That doesn’t mean you won’t receive good care. What you will discover is that they sell a good product for your hearing loss at half the price. They also give follow up service for a limited time. Understand that if you buy one from Costco, no one else will service it. On the other hand, Costco is very highly rated and their products are also excellent. Costco is changing the game. They now hold 11% of the hearing aid market. And, by the way - I don’t work there, nor do I have any financial connection with them whatsoever. I’m just tired of getting shafted by the manufacturers and audiology practices.

A third alternative is to having a hearing test done and then buying on line. eBay usually has a good selection of both new and used at any given time. That is what I did for the hearing aids I have been wearing for the last 3 years. However, now they are causing problems so I need to send them in for repair. The hearing aid manufacturers provide this service for as long as they support the ones you own. The audiologist generally charges $250.00 per hearing aid for this service. If you do buy on line, There are independent companies that will program your hearing aids to your audiology report. However, to get your report, you must ask for it at the typical audiologist’s office, and may have to pay a slight fee. Or, Costco or Sam’s Clubs will give it to you as soon as the test is completed, no questions asked. The independent companies will also do some repair, for a fee.

Personally, I am buying new hearing aids at Costco because I have tried them and they work well, and the price is great. Do your own research and then, well, best of luck to you.


#32

I bought used Starky Z Series HAs on eBay and sent them off for programming. Worked great. Saved about $4,000.


#33

Yes, but how much did you pay? Would you have been ok with losing it if it didn’t work out? Eg they were faulty in some way you couldn’t prove, and couldn’t get a refund? Or if the programming didn’t suit you, and you couldn’t work out how to get it right?

I will investigate these options for my next pair, but for my first pair no way. I would have had nothing to compare them to if I thought they weren’t working right, and no idea what to expect I should hear anyway. But even then, it’s risky.


#34

If somehow prices dropped, because everyine started going to Costco or buying online, what would happen? Would there have to be a reduction in the number of audiologists? Where’s the saved money coming from?


#35

While the report is lying on the desk or counter you could ask to take a picture of it with your smartphone.


#36

I bought my first pair of hearing aids about 12 years ago. I was working at a university hospital and bought them from the audiology department there, thinking I was purchasing a medical device. The cost was high, but I thought that was just what they cost. The next pair I bought from a non-profit speech and language hearing center, and they were very costly, but again, I thought the price was somehow controlled, without questioning it. This forum is what made me realize the prices are all over the place, and there is no regulation of them, though these are medical devices that we need to correct a physiological deficit. I bought a pair of hearing aids online, but returned them after finding that it would take weeks for me to receive the device that would help the dispenser correct the settings. I shopped around in great frustration, receiving all kinds of conflicting information, and decided to contract with a different type of online company which allowed me to see an audiologist for 2-3 times, and had a fairly low set price for the HAs. I was interested in trying Oticon OPN 1s and the Phonak Audeo. I drove 50 miles to see the audiologist in their network, and he was only knowledgeable about OPNs, since he worked mostly with veterans. I planned to see a different audiologist in their network until I found their shop was owned by Widex.

As it turns out, I never got to try the Phonaks, but that was okay since I have an iphone, which works with the OPN, and I did not like the idea of hearing phone calls in one ear only on the Phonaks. I contacted the audiologist who ordered my first pair of hearing aids–he now owns a company. He told me his company is “still independent.” Many are actually owned by one of the HA companies. He agreed to match the price for the OPN 1s quoted by the online company. I took out a new credit card that allows purchases with no interest for 15 months, so I am paying off the HAs. The card also offered a sign on bonus, which lowered the price by about $200. The audiology practice I go to will see me at no extra charge for the life of the HAs. I feel the audiologist is competent, though his practice mostly dispenses Resounds. I had tried those at Costco when I first started looking.

I don’t feel that I had as long a trial as I would have liked–it was only two weeks–but I think the Oticon OPN 1s serve my needs fairly well. I would like to be able to adjust them myself, and maybe I will pursue that in the future. I think it is a shame that we have to do so much legwork to get a somewhat fair deal on hearing aids. I am willing to shop hard for a deal, but this was more stressful than it needs to be!

And if audiologists are trained in diseases and illnesses of the ear, why are so many in the business of selling overpriced hearing aids?

Regarding purchasing a car, years ago, I read a book written by a psychiatrist who went underground to work as a car salesperson to learn about their techniques. In his book he spelled out how to play their game to get a good deal. I tried it, even though I don’t think of myself as an actor, and I walked away with a great deal on a new Acura, even though at that time Honda and Acura had the reputation of not bargaining.


#37

Regarding Hearing Revolution, if you use them ask about that 60 day trial. I was told I would have to pay a fee, I think $150, if I did not keep those hearing aids or purchase a different pair through them. Otherwise they seem fair, with good prices, and I was given the names of local providers before they made the appointment for me.


#38

First, I’ve been wearing HAs for 30 years. I have purchased HAs from a University Audiology Department as well as from typical Audiology practices. I finally got tired of being controlled by an oligopoly that fixes prices and shares technology, as well as keeping the number of Audiology practices to a limited number. Several years back I bought a used pair of Oticon Vigo P C aids on eBay. The seller had a 99% satisfaction rating on eBay, with over 500 transactions, and allowed a 30 day trial period with a full refund guarantee. I would have to pay the return shipping (less than $5.00 with insurance). I wouldn’t consider buying on lesser terms.

Being a sneaky feller, I went to a local audiologist, told him I bought them some time ago when I lived in another city (which was true), but they were not working like they did when I first got them. He gave me a test and reprogrammed them at no charge. What I am saying is that where there is a way there is a will. And before you complain too much, the audiologist did make money from my visits. I had to have a set of ear molds made at a cost of $350.00. The HAs I bought were still supported by the manufacturer and could be sent in by a local audiologist for $250 per hearing aid if necessary.

I currently am wearing a pair of top-of-the line Starkey “Z” series HAs. I have worn them for about three years and am having problems. - and I am sending them in for repair as soon as I pick up new ones from Costco. By the way, Sam’s Club hearing practices don’t have the same features as Costco. The pair I am buying cost about $2,600 for the pair, and I have a 45 day trial period where I can return them if they don’t meet my needs. I almost bought a pair of Oticon opn 1s, for about the same price, but they shipped from Europe, and when I tried the ones I am buying, at Costco, they worked well.

When the hearing aids, (used) are shipped to you, they need to be programmed to your hearing problem. If the programming does not suit you, they can be adjusted by any audiologist who handles the manufacturers product. Most will refuse to do this, so you can be sneaky like me, or send them to one of the companies that will program them from your audiology report. If you need other adjustments done, most will perform them free. There are also on-line companies that can program your aids remotely. I haven’t tried this, but they work with bluetooth

It does require research to find out what you have to do to save $$$$. By the way, when I told the audiologist I wanted to send them in, and was honest with him and told him I bought them used, he said they would be confiscated by Starkey. I called Starkey, and they said they would be confiscated only if they had been reported as stolen. They will re-register them under your name and do the necessary repairs.


#39

It is not a fixed pie. Lower prices would attract new customers who were not in the market previously. Only a small percentage of hearing loss people wear hearing aids so there is a large potential for expanding the market.

If time becomes a limiting factor, that is, lower prices from large outlets and online sources cause small independents to lower prices and they serve more clients at reduced rates, time to serve clients becomes critical and some will hire more staff, and that could attract more pros into the field.

So it is a change but not necessarily negative for the small independents, as the total pie grows larger.


#40

Correct me if I’m wrong, but an Audiologist is essentially analogous to an Optometrist. They are trained to screen for diseases and illnesses and they would refer treatment to an ENT, just as an Optometrist isn’t an Ophthalmologist. They are not medical doctors. Even with an AuD, they still aren’t MDs. They are trained to assess hearing loss and prescribe/fit hearing devices. ultimately, most work for themselves (unless they work for an ENT) and therefore need to pay the rent, just as most Physiotherapists and Chiros do, so I imagine cost of living factors hugely into the prices you end up paying.

I’m not saying that the industry shouldn’t be more transparent or that prices shouldn’t be lower, but I also think people lump Audiologists in with MDs, when they are different.