Purchasing a quality hearing instrument is surely an investment in the product and in yourself. Like many purchases, the cost of the hearing aid isn’t in the materials from which it is built, but from the technology that goes into it and from the expertise of the audiologist who fits and programs it to meet your specific hearing needs.
Some of the factors that go into the price of hearing aids include:
Technology: Not very long ago most hearing aids were analog; they were not programmable, they had no software, and they were adjusted by using a using a screwdriver. They didn’t have tele-coils, directional microphones. FM, remote controls, Bluetooth capability and you couldn’t adjust them with an app on your iPhone. Today, those things are the norm. The technologies in current digital hearing aids didn’t just happen or happen overnight. The changes are the result of hearing aid manufacturers investing heavily in developing new technology and features. They are the result of hearing aid users being willing to pay for the advantages that the technology offered. The cost to the manufacturer for creating and staying on the edge of technology is a huge. Consumers pay for those advances, but that’s the cost (and benefit) of advancing technology. You might be able to purchase a good hearing aid with older technology at lower price, but most people want the best they can get.
Durability and Reliability: Hearing aids have to function well despite the potential for a fairly icky working environment. Considering that most people wear their hearing aids to to 12 to 18 hours every day of the year in all kinds of weather conditions and through all kinds of work or play conditions (think sweat, rain or snow, makeup residue, etc). Also consider that the many hearing aids are custom made to be inserted in the ear canal and they have to function in an environment that literally exudes wax and humidity. Even the cleanest of all ear canals can harbor bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Digital custom-made hearing aids are expected to survive nicely in even the nastiest ear canals for approximately 5 to 7 years. Behind-The-Ear (BTE) instruments generally last longer than in-ear models.
Personal Fitting: It would be simple if your hearing aid just had to match your hearing loss as outlined on your audiogram, but it’s not that simple. Because your brain is really where hearing occurs, and your ears are merely the transmitters of the information, the professional has to adjust the hearing aids to amplify the soft sounds you don’t hear well without making the other sounds too loud. It may take a few sessions to get this dialed in just how you like it. Features that can minimize background noise must be properly set so that you can hear your best at parties, in restaurants or in the car. Getting your hearing aids to work well for you on the phone adds another challenge to the fitting, with tele-coils, or assistive technology requiring special attention. All this special attention requires good communication between you and your audiologist because your audiologist cannot hear what you are hearing; it’s up to you to pay attention to the sound of your hearing instruments and communicate your needs to your hearing professional.
Professional Costs: The fitting and programming of your personal hearing instruments can be complicated. When you purchase a quality hearing aid, expect to have it programmed by a capable and caring audiologist. That professional has several years of specialized training in audiology and hearing loss but with today’s digital hearing aids, they are also expected to be expert programmers with thorough working knowledge of each manufacturer’s proprietary software…and with dozens of manufacturers this can be daunting and time consuming. To stay current to the new technologies, a good audiologist may incur “continuing education” fees on an regular basis.
Research and Development: When a company manufactures a product, the pricing of that product must recover the cost of research and development for that product. Because digital hearing aids are often on the cutting edge of technology, the research and development costs can be substantial and must be spread over a relatively small number of units sold. Manufacturing and regular business costs also play a large roll in the overall cost of a hearing aid. Most hearing aids are not manufactured in huge volumes (see above). Manufacturing costs for any product are high (on a per unit basis) when volumes are low. Costs, such as bricks and mortar, leases/mortgages, insurance, warranties, production equipment and personnel, administrative staff, phones, shipping, packaging, returns for credit, marketing, heat, lights, taxes and on and on…. all add to the per-unit cost of hearing aids.
Warranty Costs: Any purchase from a reputable dealer or audiologist will come with a warranty. Any problems will be fixed it or replaced for free. Some warranties even cover problems that aren’t the fault of the hearing aid or fitting itself. For instance, if you step on your hearing aid and crush it, or if your dog chews it up, the professional will generally replace it for free, or perhaps charge a slight “refit” fee.
Obviously, when a hearing aid fails, it costs money to repair it, and of course, if it’s under warranty, you don’t receive an additional bill. However, the manufacturer does pay: cost to return it, troubleshoot it, repair it, reassemble it, complete any necessary paperwork, and return it to you or your audiologist for reprogramming.
- Customization: Almost all hearing aids are custom made devices. That means the audiologist must examine your ear, safely take an ear impression which is then shipped to an ear mold lab for BTE instruments, or to the hearing aid manufacturer for custom made in-ear instruments. The hearing aid shell is manufactured before the circuit is installed and it takes a computer to figure out how to place an amplifier, miscellaneous computer chips, a microphone, a receiver, a power supply, a vent and other wires and components into a shell that has been custom built for your ear canal, which may be the size of a pencil eraser, in such a way as to not cause electrical “cross-talk” problems or acoustic feedback. After the hearing aid is custom made, it must be custom programmed to your specific hearing needs. No one else has a hearing aid just like yours!
Considering all that goes in to the creation of your hearing aids, the investment with all it’s benefits (custom fitted, custom programmed, consultations with your hearing professional, etc) doesn’t seem so hefty. After all, isn’t your hearing worth it?
At ihearingaids, we sure thing so…that’s why we offer the highest quality products with the best service included at a price lower than most storefront dispensers. Give us a try….you’ll be glad you did!Share This Article: