The No Bullshit Guide To Why Hearing Aids Cost So Much
I get asked this question a lot, "They cost how much!?!? Why the hell do they cost that much?" So, I decided to give, in my own inimitable style, the Geoffrey Cooling no-bullshit guide to hearing aid costs. So here goes, hopefully, the answer to your question. It is a mix of the cost to me, and the fact that I got to eat. Let me explain.
Hearing Aid Costs
Okay, so I have to pay for the hearing aids, and they cost me money. The manufacturers set their prices based on many things, but primary among them is research and design. Hearing aids have become better products over the years primarily through a huge amount of research and design into everything from how the human ear works, how the brain handles sound and how best to deliver sound information to the brain.
While the costs of the actual components are cheap enough, the features that make them work are all based on research and design. In essence, those features are all software based, software development costs money. There are innovations in hardware as well, again R&D costs, even if the actual manufacturing of those new components is not hugely costly. Re-tooling a production line to produce new hearing aid types costs money.
We are talking billions of any of your favourite currency. The hearing aid brands continue to do this to ensure their hearing aids are at the cutting edge, to stay competitive in the market, and that you can hear better. They then charge me a price that ensures that they can undertake the research, pay the employees they need and make some profit. It really is as simple as that, contrary to some people who really should know better, there isn't any gouging, it isn't a conspiracy, there is no monopoly, it is what it is.
We are all in on the conspiracy!
Believe me, if there was, we in the profession would be the first people screaming it from the rooftops. Why would we entertain it? Unless of course, you think we are all in on it, it's a global conspiracy by millions of professionals! Aye right, buy a hearing aid from me and I will give you a really nice tin foil hat to stop the CIA radio signals. Nuff said.
The Smartphone Argument
I have heard the Smartphone argument several times, how can hearing aids be so expensive when a Smartphone is such and such. The argument isn't quite valid, first of all, most Smartphones are subsidised by your carrier and are far more expensive to buy sim free.
Secondly, Smartphones aren't necessarily like for like. Smartphones are manufactured and sold in the hundreds of millions. Hearing aids aren't. The economy of scale is not there, so manufacturing costs are correspondingly higher. Believe me or not, that's the truth.
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I Like To Eat
You may have noticed from my photo, I like to eat, so do my family. We also like nice things, like a house to live in, electricity, heat etc etc. I won't belabour the point but I have to live, this is a factor in my pricing of a hearing aid to you. Although it is a peripheral factor, the biggest factor in the cost I will charge you is based on the time I will spend ensuring that you get on with the hearing aid.
I need to spend time and energy to ensure that you get on well with the hearing aid you buy. That time will include an in-depth hearing test consultation, it will include a fitting of the hearing aids and several initial rehabilitation visits. After the initial visits, it will also include a recurring six-month appointment where I will clean and service the aids, check your ear canal health and probably undertake some fine-tuning.
On a yearly basis, I will check your hearing and make any changes to the hearing aid that I find needed. If the changes are large, I will see you about three weeks after the changes to assess how you are getting on. This service continues until the hearing aids fail irreparably. That tends to be a long time, generally a set of hearing aids are eight to ten years old before we can no longer get them repaired.
Time costs money
It is pretty simple, time costs money, my time costs money. You are going to get a lot of dedicated time from me. On top of that, I am a genius, well my Mother says I am special right! So it must be so. Well, perhaps not a genius, but at least a man with a fair bit of experience and dedication to what I do. So you are getting my time, experience and skill set. I put a price on that, I multiply that price by the amount of time I will spend with you and then come to a figure. That figure is what I charge you.
The Equation of Hearing Aid Costs
so, the equation of hearing aid costs is quite simple
Hearing aid cost + (How much my time is worth x how much time I spend with you)= Hearing Aid Price
Room to Manoeuvre
Is there room to manoeuvre? I don't think there is if you want all of the services I provide. However, there may be room for price change if you do not want all of my time. If you want to forgo ongoing service and are willing to accept my rates for appointments, well then yes, I will reduce the price. However, it might be more costly to you, not cheaper.
I set the price based on the service levels that I find are best for people to get on well. I certainly don't actually factor in every visit and I will often undertake earwax removal for free for existing customers. So you can believe me when I say that you are not actually getting charged for everything you will receive. You need to consider your needs, if you are an experienced user who has a fair idea about how well you will get on, well then you can weigh up what service visits you will need.
You can then make an educated decision on a negotiation for service. If you have no experience, well then you can't, and generally, neither can we. It could turn out you need a lot of visits to get things right. It could also turn out that your hearing loss changes on a yearly basis and you need a yearly test and reprogramming of the hearing aids.
Debate In The Profession
There is a lot of debate in our profession about how we provide hearing aids. How we charge for our services and how we present costs. I think that discussion will be ongoing and may well change how hearing aids are priced. However, I don't think that change will affect the real cost of what we do. Because time is money. Any questions, give us a shout on email@example.com
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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