According to statistics published by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, less than 30% have ever used them. The number is even lower for adults 20 to 69, dropping to around 16% (source). Reasons for this low usage rate could be attributed to embarrassment or lack of access to health care and pricing. Purchasing a hearing aid can be a budgetary concern for many, especially seniors living on fixed incomes.
Understanding the factors that determine hearing aid pricing can not only help you gain clarity on why hearing aids cost what they do, but it may help you identify a few ways to save money along the way. Let’s explore the five main factors that affect the price of hearing aids.
Understanding Hearing Aid Pricing
1. Type of Technology
An important factor that impacts the cost of hearing aids is related to technology. There are two general types of hearing aid technology being used in today’s marketplace: Analog and Digital Hearing Aids. Because these two types of hearing aid technologies are key factors in the costs, it is important to understand the basic differences between the two types of hearing aids:
- Analog Hearing Aids: Analog hearing aids are not using the latest technology and come with a few drawbacks, although they are cheaper. Analog hearing aids are less able to decipher between speech and unwanted background noise. They also are not cost-effective when it comes to battery consumption, making them a cheaper outlay in the beginning but an ongoing cost over time.
- Digital Hearing Aids: Digital hearing aids use the latest hearing aid technology to convert sound to digital, using a microchip. Digital hearing aids use the latest technology, unlike their analog counterparts, which factor into their price. These types of hearing aids are efficient at suppressing background noise to help the users better hear and understand speech patterns. Another advantage that the digital hearing aid brings is the ability to converse easily on mobile phones and minimal battery consumption.
Another important factor that determines healing aid pricing is its generation. Just like cars, laptops and smartphones, hearing aids are updated on a regular basis as the technology improves. This updated generation is typically released every 12 to 18 months, and with the updated features and technology, often comes at a higher price tag. Due to various developments in sound processing strategies, the hearing aid pricing of the next generation can be slightly or significantly higher.
3. Bundled vs. Unbundled Pricing
When weighing out the factors that impact the pricing of hearing aids, it will be important to consider bundled versus unbundled pricing. A bundled pricing model will typically include everything from the cost of the hearing aid to the fitting and maintenance. It may also include ongoing adjustments. The alternative, unbundled pricing model, for your hearing aid is the base without professional audiology services, maintenance, etc. While this option can create a lower price point, it may not be a great consideration for those who need help in optimizing the use of their hearing aids.
4. Sizes and Styles
Among the many important factors that determine hearing aid pricing is style. There are many styles and options to choose from, and the prices vary among those choices. The smallest, sleekest hearing aid will likely cost more than a basic, larger model. Depending on your lifestyle and the things that matter most to you (budget vs style), you may opt for the more expensive option or feel content with a cheaper hearing that is not as inconspicuous.
In some cases, a hearing aid may need to be customized to fit the patient’s needs. This customization will often be a factor that contributes to a higher price. Although it may drive the hearing aid price up a bit, customization may be the key to true optimization of the hearing aid and improvement of the patient’s hearing overall.
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You can reach out to the caring and knowledgeable staff at Kenwood Hearing Center or schedule an appointment online. We are happy to answer all of your questions regarding your hearing aid fitting and much more.