Hearing aids are one of those non-negotiable health needs. As people age or if they contract an illness that causes loss of hearing, they are not as equipped to deal with the lack of hearing as someone who has adapted from a young age. If someone ends up dealing with this circumstance, they will find themselves in a very desperate situation.
Unfortunately, when someone decides that a hearing aid is the best option for them it does not always mean that they will be able to own one.
Hearing aids are extremely expensive and not every health insurance policy deems them as necessary care. If insurance will not pay for it, then it falls to individuals to come up with the short fall and that can be a challenge. The question is, why are they so expensive?
Reasons Why Hearing Aids are So Expensive
One of the reasons why hearing aids are so expensive is because of the research and development that goes into creating them. There are millions of dollars invested into developing new and better technology for hearing aids all of the time. There are engineers, doctors and technicians who are involved in ongoing projects and every time one new technology goes public, there is another research project beginning to improve upon it.
Most hearing aids are made up of digital signal processors, which is an expensive technology. However, as time goes on, there are new research projects that are finding ways to develop technology with the same capabilities but at a lower cost to producers and subsequently consumers.
In other areas of medicine, digital technology has brought costs down but hearing aids costs has continued to rise steadily. The hope is that these research and development projects will change that trajectory over time and make hearing aids more accessible to the public.
Given all of the money that is poured into researching and developing new and constantly improving hearing aids, you would think that there is a huge market to get that money back from. There actually is not, and each year only about two million hearing aids are sold in the United States. That may sound like a large number on the surface, but that is less than one percent of the country’s population.
Since there are not enough buyers for the industry to make significant financial gains, the costs are going to be relatively high.
Cost Effective Ways to Buy a Hearing Aid
The process of receiving a hearing aid is also not so simple and requires several visits to an ENT doctor. There need to be fittings and exams, audiologists and other hearing aid specialists involved in the process as well. None of this overhead takes into account the cost of running an office or advertising the hearing aids, but those costs can be quite high.
The price of the hearing aid needs to reflect all of these tests and doctor visits, or those that are selling the product would essentially go bankrupt. There are many machines and expensive materials that go into the exams for a hearing aid fitting, they use a lot of power and the machine itself has a high price tag.
The maintenance of hearing devices, to make sure that they continue functioning properly, can also be a high ongoing cost that impacts the prices of hearing aids. Exams and fittings are all a part of the customization process for a patient’s hearing aid.
Each time that a patient purchases a hearing aid, it needs to be molded to their ear and their specific hearing needs. It needs to be adjusted and programmed according to each patient’s requirements and that in itself can be an expensive process. That also means that producers are unable to mass produce hearing aids that work perfectly for every person. That is also a factor in increasing the price.
Of course, just like anything else, there are also malfunctions and returns with these products. Hearing aids typically come with a money back guarantee, so when someone is unhappy with the product then the manufacturer is losing money on each return. That will also increase the costs of the hearing aid for initial purchase.
Of course, if the costs were to come down on the production side then this would not be as much of a factor for these large companies. Since they are already spending so much of research, development and production, the costs of returns are too much to bare without increasing the price for consumers significantly.
World-Wide Hearing Aid Prices
Hearing aids are crucial to the health and quality of life for many in the world. Unfortunately, many in the world do not have access to them either due to price or the scope of medical care where they live.
Today, a lot of work is being done to bring the cost down including looking to China for cheaper components that go into the device itself. It may take time to ensure that these components are both cost-effective and have a low possibility for risk, but in the end it could have incredible impacts on patients around the globe.
What does this mean for you? It means that medical breakthroughs are happening all of the time and change comes to the industry often. Although it can be a frustrating process trying to find a way to pay for them, rest assured that it will get better and that you have more options today than existed ten years ago.
Cheaper Alternatives to Expensive Hearing Aids
There are less-than-perfect but adequate over-the-counter aids that work well enough to make a difference in your quality of life. There are also organizations that work to help people who are struggling to pay for hearing aids either financial support or free products. Do your research and be up front with your doctor, because they may have resources that you were unaware of.
You should also consider trying a hearing amplifier. There have been many advancements and improvements in hearing amplifier technology these past few years. In fact you might already own a device that can be used to improve your hearing such as an iPhone!
We have put together this guide on How to Use Airpods as hearing aids.