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Old 03-26-2020, 01:49 PM
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Why are hearing aids so expensive?


I had a hearing test and will need hearing aids eventually, if not now. My sister has a pair that cost over $7000 Her insurance covered a chunk of that, but still. The technology in these must be similar to what's available in consumer audio gear. The demand is high enough that there are economies of scale. The most expensive Bose noise reduction headphones are "only" a few hundred dollars.

What am I missing?
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:03 PM
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One reason is "because they can be."
Another reason is probably because they need a powerful CPU to do all sorts of processing of the audio to filter out noise, and CPUs are extremely expensive to design, and hearing aids don't have the kind of base that things like smart phone CPUs have to spread that expense across more users.
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:05 PM
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(And I see now you mentioned economies of scale, but I think it is more of an issue than you think it is.)
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:58 PM
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They used to be expensive because audiologists used to have monopolistic control the market and OTC sales were cumbersome.

In 2017, President Trump signed a new law making OTC hearing aids more accessible. https://www.hearingreview.com/inside...egislation-law

Read more here : https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20...sruption.shtml

And certainly checkout online sellers. One of them https://www.embracehearing.com/ is what I used for my dad.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:43 PM
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I swear we just did this recently, but:

CostCo has a range of hearing aids, with the high-end models being something like $2,300. From anecdotal evidence, it seems their hearing tests - for what they test - are on-par with similar tests at doctor's offices.

I had finally resigned myself to go ahead and get some (I've had near-life-long higher frequency loss), but now their centers are closed due to COVID.
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:28 PM
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Up until smart phones became common, hearing aids drove a good chunk of the efforts to miniaturize electronic components. In the 90s, I was working for a passive component manufacturer, and the demand for smaller and smaller parts, with the same capacity, and putting out minimal heat, was coming from hearing aid makers. At that time, smaller meant more expensive.

So my guess is that part of the current cost of a hearing aid is a carry over of what is used to cost to design and make one. If everyone is used to paying hundreds or thousands of dollars, why would the makers give away all of that money?
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Old 03-26-2020, 10:58 PM
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My understanding, from talking recently with someone in the industry, is that the answer up to now has been limited competition and control of the market by audiologists. But the market is about to be disrupted in a big way by over-the-counter offerings.

In the meantime, Bose Hearphones are well worth checking out.
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Old 03-28-2020, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
I had a hearing test and will need hearing aids eventually, if not now. My sister has a pair that cost over $7000
That's a bit much. But I first tried a $15 Chinese eBay set. I got what I paid for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raza View Post
CostCo has a range of hearing aids, with the high-end models being something like $2,300. From anecdotal evidence, it seems their hearing tests - for what they test - are on-par with similar tests at doctor's offices.
I saw the Costco low-ends at about $1k total, mid-range at about $2k total, and high-end at about $3k total. I went for the $2k pair a couple months ago, with extensive testing, and they're marvelous! Cheapies depend on batteries to be replaced every week or so but a year supply is only a few bucks. Still, that's clumsy. My midrange pair included a charger running off a USB port. Drop the drained pair in the charger overnight and they're up and ready upon wakening.

Now, if I'm uninterested in what's being said, I can just switch them off, heh heh.
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Old 03-28-2020, 11:06 PM
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I heard somewhere that if people were willing to wear larger hearing aids, they could be a lot cheaper.
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
I saw the Costco low-ends at about $1k total, mid-range at about $2k total, and high-end at about $3k total. I went for the $2k pair a couple months ago, with extensive testing, and they're marvelous!
Consumer Reports shows customer rating of Costco hearing aids to be the highest-rated of eight brands. (They did not perform their own independent testing.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by CR
Ratings are based on our Spring 2018 survey from 4,391 members who purchased a hearing aid since 2014 and provided responses to prescription hearing aid retailer satisfaction questions.
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Old 03-29-2020, 01:12 PM
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CBS Sunday Morning ran a story in September 2018 about hearing aids and why they're so expensive. Getting a hearing aid currently involves a hearing test, a mold made of the ear canal so that the hearing aid shell can be manufactured to exactly fit and then fine-tuning and follow-up care. But, the story said, new laws allow for cheaper hearing aids. One product they mentioned was the Bose Hearphones, which costs $430.
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Old 03-30-2020, 09:39 PM
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My insurance plan works uses a company called HI Health Innovations. We can get a pair for $200-400. I have no idea how they compare to higher cost models, but they seem to work for me. The HI technician who adjusted mine told me that all hearing aids contain a programmable processor, implying that they were all basically the same.

I don't know if HI sells to the general public, but contacting them could be worth a try. $200 beats the hell out of $2000 and up.
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