One of the most common questions we get asked is “why do hearing aids cost so much?” This is a very valid question– especially as many of our patients are living on a fixed income. Breaking down the costs might help people to understand.
First of all, the costs start on a manufacturing level. Major advances are made almost yearly in hearing health care, and it is constant research driving those advances. It is important to remember that when you wear a hearing aid, you are essentially wearing a miniaturized computer on your ear. It always costs more to make something
smaller than bigger, so there is a big cost associated with that process. There are electrical engineers, audiologists, computer programmers, trouble shooters and other technicians involved in the development of every hearing aid. Those costs, along with the costs for the components themselves, account for about 35% of what you pay when you buy a hearing device.
When you purchase a hearing aid from an audiologist, you are most likely purchasing the services that go along with that device as well. This includes testing, counseling, fitting, adjustments, cleanings, etc. All of this requires overhead for the audiologist– rent on a building, lights, phones, etc. The audiologist must also purchase and maintain audiology equipment such as audiometers, computers, and other testing devices. Along with this, there are continuing education costs to maintain licensure and to ensure that the audiologist is able to provide the most current level of care.
All of these things add up quickly for the practice owner who, in a good year, may take home 10-15% of the revenue generated in the practice.
So, for the average set of hearing aids, the breakdown would look something like this:
Cost for a pair of hearing aids: $3600
Costs for the manufacturer:
Materials — $360
Research — $1,080
Other retailer costs:
Rent/overhead — $450
Testing/diagnostic machines — $288
Licenses/insurance — $108
Salaries — $540
Marketing — $270
Continuing education/training — $180
Potential profit for the audiologist (pretax) — $324
(breakdown from Ian Cropp at AARP)
Affording To Hear Better
All of that being said, we at Timpanogos Hearing & Balance have been striving for ways to make hearing better more affordable. We actually have some sets of digital hearing aids that start at less than $2000. These are very basic devices for those who live fairly quiet lifestyles, but they are available. It is also important to realize that insurance regulations and coverages change quite frequently and we are finding that more and more insurances are providing at least some coverage for hearing devices, so check up on your coverage yearly to see if you have benefits.
We have also partnered with Wells Fargo Health Advantage and have been able to finance many patients with 0% interest (on approved credit) for up to 3 years. If you are interested in a longer loan with smaller payments, we also have an option available for 9.9% interest which can get payments down to as low as $55 per month.
If you are interested in speaking with one the audiologists at our practice about your options for hearing better, please call 801-770-0801.