Why is there a wide variety of pricing for hearing aids?
People often ask why there is such a wide variety of pricing for hearing aids. One of the main reasons is that every manufacturer has their good, better, best models. Usually those prices are related to the amount and type of features and/or circuitry in the hearing aid. The more expensive the aid, the better job it does being able to separate conversation you want to hear from background noise. It is not that the top of the line has more “bells and whistles” like luxury cars; rather it has certain circuitry that may be needed to help someone hear and cope better.
Another, more recent development, is the advent of hearing aids being sold online. Those prices reflect the cost of the device only and does not include fitting and dispensing fees or any other kind of service needed to program and maintain the devices.
The most important distinction is who is dispensing the aids. Currently anyone with a high school diploma and who can pass a simple test can get a hearing aid dispensing license. People who obtain these licenses usually only look at hearing aids as products to be sold, like TVs or blenders. Very often they work for places that have quotas or only sell one brand. Certain “big box” stores sell older technology and de-featured aids to keep prices low.
A doctor of audiology, like myself, is a medical professional who views hearing aids as part of a solution to help people hear better, understand conversations better and cope with the psychosocial aspects of hearing loss. When an audiologist dispenses hearing aids, it is part of the package to helping patients hear better. The cost includes fitting and dispensing fees, unlimited visits for recheck and programming, fine tuning and maintenance of devices to name a few. As an independent audiologist I deal with all brands, makes and models and help the patient make the decision of what will work best for him/her. I do not have quotas and can recommend any brand. My goal is not to sell hearing aids, but to help the patient with his/her hearing loss.