Less expensive hearing aids are now available to Hearing Aid Dealers and Dispensers. Its doesn't necessarily follow that such products will be made available to the Consumer.
A basic premise in business is to charge as much as you can get for the product you are selling. This holds true in the Hearing Aid Industry. At every level ,from manufacturing to retail selling.
The wholesale cost of a hearing aid to the Dealer from the Manufacturer depends on how many hearing aids are purchased by month by the Dealer, and what the product mix is.
The price of the hearing aids also depends on the technical options provided by the Electronics and the Software features. The more features, the higher the cost. Unlike a Car, or a Home, where optional items are usually visible, that is not the case with hearing aids. They talk about Channels and Bands, not to be associated with the number of channels avaiable with Cable TV,etc, the Channels referred to in a hearing aid pertain to sound frequencies, similiar to the various notes on a piano keyboard. A Group of keys (12 to an Octave) is a good analogy to a Channel in a hearing aid. Someone has determined that it is important to be able to alter the response curve (amplification and compression) of such a small area. The problem is that most hearing aid users can't tell the affect of making these changes.
If that is true, then such features are really not important and may exist just to justify the higher cost of the product.Another example is a feature called "Data Logging". This feature has existed in Digital Signal Processing in other applications of software and has been adapted for use in a hearing aid as another option. What it provides for is a record of the usage of the hearing aids in variouse programs provided by the hearing aid. In reality, who cares? That however, doesn't seem to be the point, because it does become a sales point and another justification for higher priced hearing aids.
Something every buyer of hearing aids should be aware of, is that the shell (in the case of custom made products) and the physical case of the BTE (Behind the ear model) are identical in appearence,and the only difference is in the micro-processor (chip) on the inside. The Manufacturers assigne a Name or Number to the different models, but the Consumer usually has no idea of what Model he is buying, or more importantly, what model he is actually getting and what pricing category that model falls into of the Manufacturers product line.
The most viable access to such information is on the hearing aid Manufacturers web site.BUYER BEWARE.
The cost of hearing aids is at an all time high,even to the Dispenser, but less expensive models are now available, and every Manufacturer realizes that not every Consumer, or Provider such as Employers and Untions, are willing to pay $3,000,$4,000,$5,000,$6,000 and up to $10,000 per hearing aid. Hearing aids are not Watches or other forms of Jewelry.
Hearing aids cost the Hearing Aid Dispenser from about $250, $350,$450,$550,$650,$750,$850,$950,$1050,$1150,and possibly up to $1500.
The Hearing Aid Dispenser, whether he is called a Medical Doctor,Audiologist,Dispenser,or Hearing Aid Dispenser, establishes the retail price he offers the Consumer. 3rd Party Pay Providers such as Medicaid or Employer Benefit Plans,Labor Unions,etc,will dictate how much they will pay, and it is a common practice to try and get the difference from the Consumer. Sometimes that practice is Illegal.
The time involved, from beginning to end, in obtaining a hearing aid, from the initial interview to the final programming session, over a period of perhaps 4 to 10 office visits, is usually no more than 4 hours.
If a Dispenser pays less than $750 each for 2 hearing aids and sells the pair for from $3,000 to $6,000 a pair, the profit is from $1,500 to $4,500 per sale.Hearing aids are being sold for more than $6,000 per pair that don't even cost $1,500
Do the math. Its not uncommon to make a profit of $3,000 to $5,000 on the sale of a pair of hearing aids.
That equals compensation of from $750 to $1500 per hour worked.
Thats more money than the top Criminal Attorney makes in Washington,D.C.
It is well worth a Consumers time, to educate themselves as much as possible about the products, and then shop for price and service.
Make sure everything is in writing, and check with the respective State regarding the laws,rules,and regulations, regarding the Dispensing of Hearing Aids.
Make sure you buy a product from a well established Manufacturer which provides a Nationwide Warranty Program that can be executed by any Independent Hearing Aid Dealer.
Obtain a copy of the Software necessary to the programming and adjustment of the respective hearing aids. This is so the Consumer can offer it to any participating Hearing Aid Dispenser throughout the United States.
If you consider buying a Private Label or Restricted Label Hearing Aid, such as Miracle-Ear,Beltone,NuEar,Audibel,Sonus,or HearX, remember you do it at your own risk.
The service is restricted and allows for no competition. When there is no competition, the Consumer is at the mercy of the Dealer, and usually there is no mercy shown.
Who benefits from Private or Restricted Label Hearing Aid Products? The Dealer, not the Consumer.
There are absolutely no benefits to the Consumer.
Find out what the Replacement Costs will be under the Loss & Damage Provision of the Warranty, and what the Repair Charges will be once the Hearing Aids are Out of Warranty.
And Who is allowed to participate and adjust and service the hearing aids?
These are very serious considerations.