A hearing aid, similar to most other medical/healthcare appliances or equipment, serves a purpose and solves a problem. Therefore, hearing aids, again akin to almost all medical devices, come at a price, a steep price to be precise. In case you’ve have shopped for a hearing aid for yourself or someone close to you of late, then you have a clear idea about the price range.
The standard hearing aid of a reputed brand could cost nothing less than $1,500 with premium models priced at $3,500-$4,000. The median price of a hearing aid, as per the President’s Council for Science and Technology, is about $2,300-$2,500. Now, that is quite a price to pay, judging from the standpoint of the monthly income of the typical American family.
It takes nearly two months for most American households to earn an equivalent sum. The majority of families would struggle to make the sum in one month. Though a hearing aid’s price usually depends upon its specific features and style, there’s no disputing that they’re expensive for most buyers.
Those having issues with hearing either simple or complex, usually have to buy hearing aids for both the ears. This adds to the overall costs, and the worst part is that the expenses are not covered by an insurance company. A pertinent question that arises here is that why are hearing aids so costly.
The hearing aid is one medical device that you’d use daily for the better part of the day. Therefore, it’s essential to understand why they’re so expensive, and what are the factors that influence their prices?
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There Is No Such Thing As A Cost-Effective Or Affordable Hearing Aid
The majority of those who decide to go for a hearing aid find the price of the device quite exorbitant. The price of a standard BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aid has escalated more than twofold in the last ten years. The bulk of the modern-day hearing aids nowadays make optimum use of digital (signaling) processors. Digital technology brought about a revolution in almost every sphere of trade and commerce, significantly reducing the prices of numerous goods and services. So, you’d have expected the same technology to bring down a hearing aid’s cost of production by and large.
The components or parts of such devices cost somewhere in the range of $50-$150 for every unit and could cost even lesser. Then again, most of the manufacturers have shifted their manufacturing units offshore (mainly China and India) where labor is cheaper. Then why are prices, instead of plummeting, rising continually?
A plausible reason offered by audiologists and manufacturers is that the latter have to customize the device for the individual customer or user. The manufacturer has to spend heavily on R& D for making tweaks and adjustments on every product to suit the user. However, the plain and hard truth is that there exists a deep nexus between the producers and the audiologists to charge a high price.
Bear in mind that the hearing aid is one medical device that does not have any substitute(s) as yet. This gives the manufacturers an opportunity to create a monopolistic market where customers have to choose the same type of product across various brands. It simply defies logic as to why a product whose constituent parts cost no more than $100-$120, should cost $2,500.
Hearing Aids Price: The Costing Heads
Hearing aids surely do not come cheap, as you know by now. However, you should bear in mind that when you’re purchasing this product, you’re not only paying for the same per se. Several elements or aspects are built into the cost price of a hearing aid in the first place.
Your audiologist will be able to explain to you in detail the factors that are taken into consideration while calculating the product’s cost. The invoice usually comprises costing heads such as consultation fees, audiometric test charges, installation, normal cleanings, follow-up modifications, and so on. Your payment (or the price of the product) also covers the hearing aid’s warranty, which could vary from one to four years.
The warranty on your product includes repairing and maintenance, and generally replacement on one occasion in case you lose or misplace the device. Your audiologist could also supply you the batteries that you’d need to power the hearing aid.
Factors Having A Bearing On The Price Of A Hearing Aid
You’ll come across a wide range of hearing aids in the market. What differentiates one sort from the other are the features and functionalities and the kind of technology used. Just as state-of-the-art consumer electronics and digital devices have a sharp price curve in the initial phase of their launch (which tapers off after a few years), so it is with hearing aids.
Unfortunately, as far as hearing aids are concerned, there has been no perceptible tapering off of the price curve. Neither have the prices of the products steadied in the past two to three years nor has the technology kept pace. In other words, if you buy the same product two years from now, do not expect the device to sport an advanced technology.
Almost all the hearing aid producers are constantly looking for innovative ways to offer high-quality products at affordable rates. The manufacturers now provide a product line where you get to choose from different models of the same brand. It follows that every model in the product line has a specific performance level, and therefore priced accordingly.
So, if you choose the most sophisticated hearing aid of a company costing somewhere between $2,500 and $4,000, it’ll be loaded with versatile features. Put, this high-end hearing aid will feature Bluetooth, noise reduction/noise cancellation mechanism, multiple channels, remote control, and wireless compatibility. On the other hand, if you chose a more rudimentary model, obviously it’ll come with just the basic features.
Why are Hearing Aids so Costly?
As mentioned before, the device’s price does not only include its manufacturing cost but other related aspects as well. One of the most vital elements that influence the final cost of the hearing aid is service rendered by the healthcare professional. You’ve to understand and realize that painstaking R&D goes into making the products technologically superior with time.
The manufacturers have to invest heavily in research and development, which is a continuous and ongoing process. Some well-known and established producers of hearing aids invest upwards of a billion dollars towards the development of technologically advanced products. More often than not, product recalls compelling producers to reinvest vast sums for remedying the fault or deficiency of the same.
So these aspects could easily push up the selling price of a hearing aid. The following paragraph offers a sound explanation of what makes this product so expensive.
For instance, you make up your mind to buy a product that carries a price tag of says $4,500. Assume that this hearing aid comes with a five-year guarantee period, i.e. it has a product life cycle of five years. So, you’d be paying $900, $75, and $2.46 on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis respectively.
So, if you look at the price from a long-term perspective, of course, it sounds costly. But if you consider the pricing on a monthly or everyday basis, it surely works out cheaper than most items. For example, a light snack with a beverage that you normally order at McDonald’s or Pizza Burger would be costlier.
The benefits that users make the most of by using a hearing aid more than compensates for the product’s inflated price. Can you think of a better or more practical reason behind the product’s high cost?
Why Should You Buy a Hearing Aid?
If your audiologist has strongly recommended you to opt for a hearing aid, but its exorbitant pricing discourages you from buying it, then compare the pros and cons of your decision. Yes, most brands of hearing aids could indeed burn a hole in your pocket. But at the same time, think about the consequences of not going for a hearing aid, your healthcare provider’s recommendations notwithstanding.
Without it, you may not be able to pick up your superior’s instructions or your client’s feedback. Think about all the engaging conversations with your near and dear ones that you’ll have to give a miss. You certainly cannot put a price tag on the conversations you’ve with your granddaughter or grandson.
You’ll miss out on the doorbell’s chime, the chirping of the birds, and the whistling of your electric kettle. Better Hearing Institute reports that working individuals who do not take remedial measure for their impaired hearing were likely to lose $12,000 per year on average. To say the last but not the least, hearing loss if left untreated could heighten fall or tripping risks, lead to hypertension, dementia, and depression.
Ultimately, you end up paying more by not opting for a hearing aid compared to purchasing it.