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Ask Anna: Why are hearing aids expensive?

why are hearing aids expensive?
Ask Anna is a weekly advice column for the hearing loss community.

Dear Anna,

I recently found out that I have a mild to moderate hearing loss and I need to buy a pair of hearing aids. When my audiologist told me the price, I couldn’t believe how expensive they were. Is there are reason why hearing aids are so expensive? What am I investing my money in when I buy a hearing aid?

Sincerely,

Worried future hearing aid user

Dear worried future hearing aid user,

This question is one that is asked a lot. The price of a hearing aid cannot easily be taken at face value because there are so many variables that will contribute to the final price. To try to explain this I have tried to break it down into components.

  • Country to country
  • Point of sale
  • Value add services
  • Product Technology
  • End-user benefit (value)

Country to country 

The cost of a hearing aid can vary significantly depending on the country that it is purchased in. Some countries have government supported programs where a hearing aid is completely free at point of delivery or a reimbursement program, this is where a proportion of the cost of hearing aids is covered.

In some countries, the medical insurance companies will also contribute a proportion of the cost to top up government contributions. Unfortunately, not all countries have these types of programs and the full cost has to be met by the individual. The full cost is also country dependent based on factors such as how the country determines the classification of a hearing aid and whether it is classed as a tax-exempt item.

Point of Sale

The price of a hearing aid will also vary considerably depending on the place of purchase. There are many different places you can purchase a hearing aid such as; online, from a small independent store or a large retail chain. The model of purchasing can also be different with some being entirely face to face while others make it possible to purchase the hearing aid online and have it fitted in their office. Explore the different options available to you.

Value add services

More often than not the price is not just for the hearing aid itself. It may include other services such as the cost of a hearing test, hearing aid repairs, additional counseling. My advice would be to check what you are paying for. Most Hearing Care Professionals will provide a breakdown of what is
covered in the final cost. Shop around and find a Hearing Care Professional that services suit you.

Product and Technology

Hearing aid prices will vary between manufacturer and also based on what is commonly referred to as a performance level. This refers to the number and type of functionalities a hearing aid has. Typically the more it is able to do the more expensive the hearing aid.

These functionalities should be selected or recommended depending on the lifestyle and needs of the individual. What is often underestimated is the technology investment that is needed for hearing aids. Research and development costs invested into cutting edge new chips, features and functions coupled with the cost of producing the hearing aids will always, however minimal, be included in the final price.

hearing aid cost

End User benefit

Finally, the decision will be with the person purchasing hearing aids, you need to compare and understand the benefits provided by the hearing aids and if these outweigh the final cost. In other words what value are these hearing aids to you?

Read more: My journey to discovering Marvelous hearing aids

I hope that this breakdown into what can contribute towards the cost of a hearing aid is helpful. If you have any further questions please send me an email or add a question in the comments section below.

Do you have a question for Anna? Email: stories@hearinglikeme.com

The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Hearing Like Me website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency medical services immediately.
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Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.
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Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.