Many people with hearing loss believe that hearing aids are far too expensive, and that audiologists and dealers get a huge markup on them. One potential salvation is the growing trend for health insurance to cover hearing aids.
Another idea with growing support is that of a tax credit for hearing aid purchases.
Here’s an eloquent expression of the opinion that hearing aid markups are too high.
Not everyone is in agreement with that opinion, of course. Here’s an audiologist with the opinion that hearing aids have normal markups.
Doctor creates affordable hearing aids costing less than $200
- October 2001 – There has been a flurry of activity recently regarding requiring health insurance companies to cover hearing aids. Talk about an idea whose time has come! Here’s an article on a bill in the U.S. House to require Medicare to cover hearing aids.
- February 2004 – The Lions Clubs have long served people with hearing loss by providing financial assistance to who can’t afford hearing aids. Now they’re taking that concept one step farther by developing their own low-cost hearing aid.
- May 2004 – Here’s an excellent article on hearing aid costs by Cheryl Heppner of NVRC.
- December 2004 – Here’s an update on the Lions low-cost hearing aid project.
- May 2005 – Here’s Dr. Mark Ross’ objective and dispassionate look at the hot issue of over-the-counter hearing aids.
- June 2005 – And here’s what some of our readers thought about Dr. Ross’ article on OTC hearing aids.
- August 2005 – North Carolina has just announced a program that uses excess relay money to provide hearing aids, ALDS, and alerting devices to state residents!
- October 2005 – Here’s an article on an organization that provides reduced-cost hearing aids to people with modest means.
- February 2006 – Think hearing aids cost too much? Think they should be covered by insurance? How about tax credits? Then you should read Charlea Baker’s article on this important topic.
- April 2006 – Hearing aids to be paid for by Medicaid under budget agreement
- August 2006 – Why the high price for such a little device?
- August 2006 – High cost of hearing
- July 2007 – What? Hearing aids cost how much?
- January 2008 – Lions Clubs International Foundation/Rexton Program for Low-Cost Digital Hearing Aids
- July 2008 – $200 hunter aid better than $1500 hearing aid
- August 2008 – “Healthy Hearing” Claims Hearing Aids are a Bargain!
- August 2008 – Several factors contribute to cost of hearing aids
- October 2009 – Senator calls for adding hearing aids to Medicare
- November 2009 – Health Care Plan Includes Hearing Care for Minors
- November 2009 – NIDCD Working Group on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults with Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss
- January 2010 – Need help paying for that hearing aid?
- March 2010 – Doctor creates affordable hearing aids costing less than $200
- July 2010 – HLAA Convention: How to Pay for Hearing Aids
- September 2010 – VA Contract for Hearing Aids – Minutes from VA Meeting in Washington, DC
- February 2011 – Hearing Healthcare Reform: Making Hearing Aids Affordable
- March 2011 – Cell phone inspires ear specialist to design affordable hearing aid
- March 2011 – MDHearingAid Offers Affordable Hearing Aids
- April 2011 – NIDCD Works to Make Hearing Health Care More Affordable and Accessible
- May 2011 – Does Hearing Aid Cost Influence Buying Decision?
- May 2011 – HLAA Tries To Make Hearing Aids More Affordable
- May 2011 – Survey Highlights Gaps In Consumer Knowledge of Hearing Loss
- May 2011 – Factors Influencing Individuals’ Decisions to Access Hearing Care Services
- July 2011 – HLAA Encourages Transparency of Hearing Aid Pricing
- August 2011 – Encouraging Transparency in Hearing Aid Pricing
- September 2011 – UW-Madison program provides reconditioned hearing aids
- October 2011 – Health Insurer to Provide Reduced Cost Hearing Aids
- October 2011- Cost-effective Pricing for Hearing Aids and Related Audiological Services
- November 2011 – Hearing Loss Association of America Speaks Out on the Latest UnitedHealthcareR Initiative
- January 2012 – TruHearing to Provide Discount Hearing Services to 56 Million VSP Vision Care Members
Hearing aids to be paid for by Medicaid under budget agreement
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The state will pay for hearing aids for poor people under the Medicaid program with an agreement reached by legislative budget writers as lawmakers try to close out their differences on how to spend state money in the coming year. The House and Senate continued budget negotiations Monday after a week of offers and counter offers, trying to work out differences between the spending plans that each chamber has passed. The House agreed to a Senate proposal to spend about $900,000 in state money to cover hearing aids, something the Legislature cut spending for a few years ago when times were tight.
Why the high price for such a little device?
A cellphone that can record video costs less than $200 these days. A state-of-the-art digital camera might run $500 with fancy options. So why do hearing aids generally cost at least $1,500 and often a lot more? It’s one of the great frustrations for people who have hearing disabilities.
High cost of hearing
Go to a cellphone store and you can walk out with a handheld device that’s a telephone, music player, digital camera and Global Positioning System mapper, all for a couple of hundred bucks. But go to buy a hearing aid that has one job — making things louder and clearer — and you’ll be set back $1,500 or more, and that’s not counting the cost of the audiologist who fits it. In the age of $30 DVD players, why does a good hearing aid still cost as much as a half-decent used car? And why, to add insult to injury, will Medicare and insurance companies pay for eyeglasses, contact lenses, wheelchairs and electric scooters, but not hearing aids?
What? Hearing aids cost how much?
The baby boom generation is finding that their parents were right: Rock ‘n’ roll was bad for them. . . . All of that is music to the ears of those who sell hearing aids. Sales now total about $4 billion annually, according to the Better Hearing Institute, a nonprofit educational group. Fitters are rushing to open new offices to keep up with demand. And manufacturers are scrambling to make products more appealing in style (snakeskin) and size (too small to be seen) and with better technology. But the high-style look comes with high prices. Retailers — audiologists and licensed fitters — routinely add 100 percent markups to manufacturers’ prices, said Don Schum, vice president for audiology of Oticon, a Danish company that is the world’s second-largest hearing aid manufacturer. Many of the devices retail for $2,000 to $3,000 each.
“Healthy Hearing” Claims Hearing Aids are a Bargain!
Prices have gone up. Oh, you hadn’t noticed? Of course you’ve noticed. It hurts to fill up the SUV! Grocery bills are through the roof; forget holding the line on health insurance, home cooling/heating, electricity, taxes. The average American can NOT catch a break on rising costs. Everything costs more today than it did just a few months ago. Remember when oil hit $70 a barrel? Analysts were apoplexic. Now, we may never see $70 a barrel again. But there is one bright spot in the economy, especially for people who experience hearing loss, from mild to severe. The annual Hearing Journal/Audiology Online survey of hearing aid dispensers, conducted in January, 2008, revealed “inflation-appropriate” increases in the price of hearing aids over the past three years. Check to see how much your heating bill has increased in three years. Yikes!
Several factors contribute to cost of hearing aids
Q: Why are hearing aids so expensive compared to other electronic devices, which are often more sophisticated?
A: Apple recently released its new iPhone, an 8-gigabyte powerhouse of a communication tool. Retail cost: $199. If you need a good hearing aid, however, you can expect to pay between $1000 and $5,000 – each. Only about 22 percent of the more than 31-million people who suffer hearing loss are wearing hearing aids, according to the most recent MarkeTrak report, the largest national consumer survey on hearing loss in America. Of the rest, 30 percent cited their financial situation as a reason for not buying them. Experts say there are a number of reasons hearing aids are so costly. Sales volume plays into the equation. In 2007, members of Hearing Industries Association, a hearing aid manufacturer trade group, sold about 2.4-million hearing aids nationwide.
Senator calls for adding hearing aids to Medicare
It might be too late in the game and too expensive to add to the health-care legislation that Democrats hope to pass this year. But Sen. Sherrod Brown says it’s time to make hearing aids a covered benefit under the Medicare health-care program for seniors. The Ohio Democrat introduced a bill last week seeking to add hearing aids to Medicare’s basic coverage. Brown’s office says that 30 percent of people 65 or older and 47 percent 75 or older have a hearing impairment but must buy separate coverage or pay out of pocket for devices that cost $500 to $5,000. Medicare’s bulk-buying power could hold costs to about $1,000 per device on average. Given that there would be millions of potential users of this benefit, that could add up to a hefty cost for taxpayers.
Health Care Plan Includes Hearing Care for Minors
AG Bell is reporting that the Senate Finance Committee recently released an accompanying report to its version of health care insurance reform legislation, America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 (S 1796), defining habilitative and hearing services, equipment, and supplies for children under the age of 21 as components of an essential benefit package that must be provided by insurance companies under health care insurance reform.
NIDCD Working Group on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults with Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders/National Institutes of Health (NIDCD/NIH) sponsored a working group on Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care for Adults with Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss on August 25-27, 2009. The working group was held in Bethesda, Maryland. The purpose of the working group was to develop a research agenda to increase accessibility and affordability of hearing health care for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, including accessible and low cost hearing aids.
Does Hearing Aid Cost Influence Buying Decision?
It is not unreasonable to assume that cost may be a prohibitive factor in accessing care; financial reasons are cited as a definite factor in non-adoption of hearing aids for 46% of the hearing loss population.2However, the extent that cost contributes to non-adoption of hearing aids is unclear. In the same survey, 79% and 62% of those sampled reported “hearing loss” and “need,” respectively, as definite reasons for non-adoption of hearing aids. Furthermore, MarkeTrak surveys suggest that those from the most affluent households are least likely to obtain hearing aid amplification. Clearly, cost is not the only factor involved in hearing aid acquisition.
Factors Influencing Individuals’ Decisions to Access Hearing Care Services
Why do people who fail a hearing screening at a health fair or open house choose not to go on for a comprehensive hearing assessment when one is clearly recommended? Similarly, why do people who fail a comprehensive hearing assessment choose not to follow recommendations for improving their ability to hear? Here are some answers.
HLAA Encourages Transparency of Hearing Aid Pricing
HLAA’s “Campaign to Make Hearing Aids Affordable” is an attempt to find ways to encourage and make it possible for more people to get treatment for their hearing loss and do it much earlier. These days there is no reason to put up with not hearing well. There are more and better options-both in technology and services-than ever. However, while 95 percent of people with hearing loss could successfully be treated with hearing aids, only 22 percent currently use them according to MarkeTrak report. And, 68 percent of people with hearing loss cite financial constraints as a core reason they do not use hearing aids. This campaign has several components because HLAA believes there is no “one way” to get more people to seek treatment for their hearing loss.
Cost-effective Pricing for Hearing Aids and Related Audiological Services
Hearing aid pricing has long been a subject of discussion in audiological literature and among hearing aid users. While hearing aid pricing has never been rated as the primary impediment to obtaining appropriate hearing aids, it has repeatedly been noted as an important factor. Thus, marketing plans should address hearing aid pricing in order to have face validity. This article examines marketing models that offer hearing aids at around $800 or less. All of these plans assume that the nationally established customary fees for diagnostic testing, hearing aid performance validation, and aural rehabilitation will be, in part, foregone by the provider.
Hearing Loss Association of America Speaks Out on the Latest UnitedHealthcareR Initiative
But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves if this traditional approach is reaching most people who could benefit from hearing aids? We all know the answer is no. With 75 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids not taking steps to treat their hearing loss we are failing a large percentage of people who could improve their quality of life, remain independent into old age and stay on the job without retiring early. The hi HealthInnovations approach is new and untried. A lot hinges on the accuracy of the test they plan to use to triage the best candidates for open-fit amplification, how easily people adjust to using the devices and whether or not first-time users can be successful hearing aid users without face-to-face care. Is it going to work? Only time will tell. But let’s give it a chance and not sabotage it from the outset so that consumers can be the ultimate judges.