by Jane C. Brady
The pricing of hearing aids is a frustrating topic that raises the issue of “What am I paying for?” “How much will this cost me?” You can ask many professionals, from your local Ear, Nose and Throat practitioner, your audiologist, and even your bulk retail store. Unfortunately, you will get a different answer every time. Hearing aids, as you may or may not know, come in many shapes, sizes, and technology levels. They are produced by a wide variety of manufacturers and are designed to fit and improve the hearing and the quality of life of those who wear them.
Many factors determine the style, level of technology, and the manufacturer selected. These include lifestyle, age, cognitive function, dexterity, preferences for invisibility or discreteness, power requirements, and price. Factors should not include what is in excess on the office shelves and how that stock aid or aids can be tailored to fit whoever walks into the office door. For the purposes of this article, variability of style, design and power requirements should be left to your professional. However, it should be noted that not all styles are appropriate for each and every hearing loss. Again, those decisions should be made with your audiologic professional and should be very specific to your needs. This article will touch specifically on pricing models utilized in a typical hearing aid dispensing office.
There are two models for pricing in the hearing aid industry; bundled pricing and unbundled pricing. You, as the consumer, must be clear about the pricing policy your professional uses in order to understand what you are paying for. Only then will you know what services are and are not included in the original purchase price.
Bundled pricing is the most commonly utilized pricing. It is an easy policy to institute. Generally, there are three or four levels of technology with a set fee that increases as the level of technology becomes more sophisticated. It may include a variety of extras such as unlimited office visits, batteries, and a two or three year repair and loss and damage warranty. The cost of a pair of the highest end hearing aids can range from $6,500 to $7,000, depending on the office demographic.
Unbundled pricing is different in that it separates the price of the hearing aid(s) from the professional fitting fee. As such, this model utilizes an “a la carte” approach to fittings where you as the consumer are paying only for exact services provided and not for services that may not be used. This unbundled model includes orientation of the care and maintenance of the hearing aid, real ear verifications, and outcome measure assessment. It too includes repair and loss and damage warranties.
You wouldn’t pre-pay your physician for ten or twenty office visits that may or may not occur in the future, Right? Why would you consider that when you buy a hearing aid? Typically, unbundled pricing for a pair of the most sophisticated hearing aids is more than $2000 cheaper for a pair of hearing aids than through a bundled approach/model. You are not getting less technology. You are not getting less professionalism. You are not getting a product made by a unknown manufacturer. You are merely saving your money until in the future, when an office visit may be needed for cleaning, or reprogramming the device. That’s a lot of savings over the life of a hearing aid.
By choosing services provided by an audiologist at Horizon Audiology, our university trained, doctoring professionals, we are partnering with you in your hearing health care. We recognize that you have a choice of where you purchase your product and where it will be fit and maintained. We take great pride in our offices’ high referral rate from physicians and satisfied customers. Our patient’s call us honest, caring and knowledgeable; we hope you will too.
Call to schedule your appointment today at 609-448-9730. We look forward to seeing you,
Jane C Brady AuD FAAA, Horizon Audiology, 300A Princeton Hightstown Road, Suite 204, East Windsor. 609-448-9730, fax 609-448-9732. See ad, page 11.