Hearing Aid Cost
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.
May 2013 – Ohio Bill Would Restrict Alternative Hearing Aid Sales Methods
February 2013 – General Hearing Instruments Offers Hearing Aids Online
February 2013 – The Case for Unbundling Hearing Aid Prices
February 2013 – Hearing Aid Prices Much Higher Than Their Actual Cost
February 2013 – Inexpensive Hearing Aid Available Online
January 2013 – hi HealthInnovations Extends Hearing Aid Marketing Push to Veterans
November 2012 – Affordable Hearing Aids Now Available to U.S. Veterans
October 2012 – Why Medicare Should Pay For Hearing Aids
October 2012 – The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid
September 2012 – Can a Low-Cost Hearing Aid be Effective?
September 2012 – Smaller, Hipper, Less Expensive Alternatives to Traditional Hearing Aids
June 2012 – Americans Are Paying Too Much for Hearing Aids
April 2012 – Can Two Young Entrepreneurs Solve The High Cost Of Hearing?
April 2012 – United Health/hi HealthInnovations Pulls Online Test
April 2012 – FDA Halts hi HealthInnovations’ Online Hearing Test
February 2012 – HLAA Favors More and Less Expensive Hearing Aid Access
October 2011 – Health Insurer to Provide Reduced Cost Hearing Aids
September 2011 – UW-Madison program provides reconditioned hearing aids
August 2011 – Encouraging Transparency in Hearing Aid Pricing
February 2011 – Hearing Healthcare Reform: Making Hearing Aids Affordable
July 2010 – HLAA Convention: How to Pay for Hearing Aids
January 2010 – Need help paying for that hearing aid?
July 2008 – $200 hunter aid better than $1500 hearing aid
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.
May 2005 – Here’s Dr. Mark Ross’ objective and dispassionate look at the hot issue of over-the-counter 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.
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.
Not everyone is in agreement with that opinion, of course. Here’s an audiologist with the opinion that hearing aids have normal markups.
Here’s an eloquent expression of the opinion that hearing aid markups are too high.
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. Full Story
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.Full Story
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? Full Story
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. Full Story
“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/AudiologyOnline 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! Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
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. Full Story
Ohio Bill Would Restrict Alternative Hearing Aid Sales Methods
After gaining a wealth of support from industry officials, a bill looking to specify individuals who are permitted to recommend and fit hearing aids was revised last week. House Bill 109, sponsored by Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, initially sought to prohibit a hearing aid dealer, fitter, physician or audiologist from selling or distributing a hearing aid to a consumer through the mail without a prior in-person evaluation. The revised measure would widen the provisions to include business entities and require sellers to have proof of a prior in-person evaluation by one of the specified health professionals. The adjusted bill also no longer includes a proposed ban on Internet/mail-based sales or distribution and specifies that HB 109 would not apply to hearing devices used only while hunting or shooting. In keeping with its original aim, the bill would permit hearing aid dealers, fitters, physicians and audiologists to recommend and fit hearing aids. While the substitute bill has yet to be vetted, the bill’s original intent to curb online hearing aid sales had proved popular with industry leaders such as Gregg Thornton. Thornton, the executive director of the Ohio Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, said the board has been involved with this issue since May 2010. Full Story
The Case for Unbundling Hearing Aid Prices
First, let me just say that-the last time I looked-the practice of bundling prices for hearing care services and products is not on the list of mortal sins. I know a ton of dispensing professionals-probably some of the best in the nation-who do not unbundle their prices. And I understand that there really are a few good reasons (besides the old answer “because that’s how I’ve always done it”) why most professionals prefer to keep their prices bundled. However, as our market continues to change and new threats to the conventional distribution system emerge, I think it’s in every hearing care professional’s best interest to unbundle their product and service pricing. In this issue of HRP, long-time contributor Amyn Amlani, PhD, gives us perhaps the most persuasive reason yet: increased perceived value. With unbundled pricing, this study shows that there is a transparency that the experienced consumer perceives. For the inexperienced consumer, unbundling provides an enhanced sense that, in Dr Amlani’s words, “minimizes the value that a hearing aid is a high-risk, low-reward investment.” Full Story
Hearing Aid Prices Much Higher Than Their Actual Cost
Even though consumers can pay thousands dollars for a single hearing aid, a CBC News investigation has found that the actual cost of making a hearing aid averages around $150. That figure comes from the operator of Audicus Inc., an online company that distributes hearing aids direct from the manufacturer at a reduced cost to customers around the world. Audicus president Patrick Freuler says he has broken out the cost of a typical hearing aid, based on his own research with manufacturers. “The typical cost to produce a hearing aid [is] anywhere between $50 to up to $200,” Freuler said in an interview from his office in New York. He said the price depends on how many features are within the hearing aid, whether or not it hasBluetooth capability, or multiple channels and microphones. “It can go all the way down to the tens of dollars. But if you want to take an average cost, it is $150,” said Freuler. Prices of hearing aids at Audicus.com range from about $400 to $600. Full Story
hi HealthInnovations Extends Hearing Aid Marketing Push to Veterans
Fresh on the heels of an order from the Food and Drug Administration to remove a hearing test from its website last spring, hi HealthInnovations is pushing further into the hearing aid market with a new discount program for military veterans and their spouses. The company, an affiliate of insurance behemoth UnitedHealth Group, made a controversial entry into the hearing aid market in 2011 when it offered direct-to-consumer hearing aids at sharply discounted prices with no out-of-pocket costs to some Medicare Advantage members. Veterans could prove an extremely lucrative market for the company. Hearing aid sales to the Department of Veterans Affairs comprised 20 percent of more than 2.1 million total units sold through September, according to the Hearing Industries Association. (HIA Statistical Reporting Program. Third Quarter 2012.) Full Story
Affordable Hearing Aids Now Available to U.S. Veterans
hi HealthInnovations, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company and Optum business, has launched a new program to make hearing aids more affordable for U.S. veterans and their spouses. The new program offers veterans and their spouses high-quality, custom-programmed digital hearing aids for as little as $649 to $849 each, depending on the model chosen. That compares to some hearing aids that retail for as much as $4,000 each. Hearing loss is a growing health concern for some veterans, in part because of their history of noise exposure experienced during their time of service. Hearing loss is the second most common health condition among veterans, affecting more than 670,000 members of the armed forces nationwide, according to The Hearing Journal. To access the discount program, veterans work with a health professional, such as an audiologist, hearing aid dispenser or primary care physician, to get their hearing tested. Full Story
Why Medicare Should Pay For Hearing Aids
I watched as my husband climbed our hardwood steps and stopped to pick up a coin that fell from his pocket; he had heard it bounce on the floor. Earlier in the day, he had called me at work to ask if we should “do something” about the black crows that have nested in our front yard tree. “They make a racket,” he told me. Last night at dinner, we were able to have our first conversation in five years that didn’t require shouting to be heard and later, as we watched “Parenthood” in bed, the TV volume was comfortable for both of us. Yes, my husband just got hearing aids — one in each ear. They sit diminuatively and hidden behind each ear, truly invisible to the eye. How something so small can function so large is a wonderment. They set us back $4,000, which means we will be making budget sacrifices to pay for them. And here’s the real rub: Medicare won’t pay a dime for them. My husband is 77 and one of the 38 million Americans who needs help hearing. There is a strong relationship between aging and hearing loss: 18 percent of American adults 45- to 64-years-old, 30 percent of adults 65- to 74-years-old, and 47 percent of adults 75-years-old or older have a hearing loss problem, reports the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Full Story
The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid
The crackling noises coming from my left ear weren’t a good sign. Last year, when my decade-old analog hearing aid started making popping sounds, I knew I had to replace it. But because hearing aids are so costly and generally aren’t covered by insurance, I had put it off. I soon learned that in the last 10 years, purchasing a hearing aid had become even more difficult and confusing than buying a new car – and almost as expensive. The first salesman I visited, in Los Angeles, looked at the hairline fracture on my wax-encrusted aid. He warned me that it could shatter in my ear and advised me to get a new one on the spot. Alarmed, I visited Hearx, the national chain where I had bought my previous aids. There, a fastidious young man spread out a brochure for my preferred brand, Siemens, and showed me three models. The cheapest, a Siemens Motion 300, started at $1,600. The top-of-the-line model was more than $2,000 – for one ear. I gasped. Full Story
Smaller, Hipper, Less Expensive Alternatives to Traditional Hearing Aids
To many people, hearing loss represents another step in the dreaded march to old age. In fact, only about 20% of the 36 million Americans who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases Many audio-speaker manufacturers are jumping into the hearing-aid market due to a recent FDA ruling that hearing-assist devices could be sold over-the-counter. Melinda Beck has details on Lunch Break. Photo: Patrick Conlon/The Wall Street Journal. Now, a wave of new devices that are smaller, hipper and sold over-the-counter are trying to win over more consumers-and appeal to the growing number of younger people with hearing damage from loud music. One upcoming model is a smartphone app. Others look like MP3 players or Bluetooth headsets. Some can barely be seen at all. They’re also less expensive: Traditional hearing aids can cost more than $4,000 per ear and aren’t covered by Medicare or most insurers. Often likened to “reading glasses” for the ears, many of the new models come preset to boost sounds in the high frequencies that most people lose first. That lets consumers bypass audiologists, who have traditionally controlled the market by giving hearing tests and selling custom-programmed hearing aids. Technically, many of the new devices are “personal sound amplification products,” or PSAPs, intended to help people with normal hearing better hear in situations like noisy restaurants and large gatherings, according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines issued in 2009. Hearing aids, by contrast, are medical devices for the hearing-impaired and subject to FDA approval, the agency says. Full Story
Americans Are Paying Too Much for Hearing Aids
The healthcare industry is failing to address a massive, treatable epidemic. 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, a number that is only increasing as the population ages. Hearing loss has been linked to chronic disease, depression and even reduced earnings, and the health benefits of treatment are clear, with studies showing that hearing aids profoundly improve quality of life, and can even prevent brain atrophy. Nonetheless, the hearing care industry seems content with a status quo characterized by inflated costs and low adoption, in effect turning a deaf ear toward untreated hearing loss. America’s hearing aid market is broken. Given the benefits, a consumer might reasonably expect the free market to provide a selection of affordable hearing aid options. That consumer would be sorely disappointed. Today you can walk into an Apple store and take home an iPhone for $650, but if you want to buy hearing aids you’ll have to shell out around $5,000. To put this number in perspective, Apple spent about 23 times as much on research and development last year as William Demant, the manufacturer of Oticon hearing aids. Hearing aid adoption has stagnated around 25% for years and increasingly high prices have surely played a role. Full Story
United Health/hi HealthInnovations Pulls Online Test
The online hearing test developed by hi HealthInnovations and designed to prescribe amplification for the company’s hearing aids has been taken down for “enhancements”, according to the company as originally reported online by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). There is no mention about when the test will go back online, and hi HealthInnovations did not immediately respond toHR. Currently, the test is preceded by a Web page that provides instructions on how to get a hearing test that states: “Ask your physician for a hearing test. We have provided hearing test kits to many physicians, but if your physician does not have a kit, please ask them to call [phone number].” When one clicks on the “Start Hearing Test or Enter Audiogram Results”, which at one time brought visitors to the “Home version”- the most controversial of the company’s hearing tests-it now only allows visitors to enter values from an audiogram. Full Story
Can Two Young Entrepreneurs Solve The High Cost Of Hearing?
You may be starting to get an understanding of why this is not a simple problem to tackle. And, really, it’s just the beginning, as the Embrace Hearing co-founders tell us that there’s even more friction when it comes to distribution. Audiologists (health care professionals who specialize in hearing, and the loss thereof) control the majority of sales in the U.S. market. While these specialists provide essential services, they use the sale of hearing aids to their own gain, often charging markups of three to five times – because they can. Not only that, but the clever business people they are, they bundle re-fittings and follow-up visits into the cost, generally using this as the explanation for why hearing aids cost so much. The Embrace co-founders say that the reality of the situation, however, is that only 20 percent of customers make five or more visits to audiologists in the year after being fitted for the device. For those who fall into that category, the insurance and other benefits might make sense, but for most it doesn’t. Full Story
HLAA Favors More and Less Expensive Hearing Aid Access
HLAA likewise has always encouraged consumers to work closely with a hearing health care professional they trust as the best way to become a successful hearing aid user. 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 well the devices work, 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. Full Story