Why are hearing aids so expensive?

Getting hearing aids is a liberating experience for both the wearer and their families and friends. No more shouting or misunderstanding conversations! And in fact, hearing aids offer more than just improved hearing. Wearing hearing aids can also instill more confidence as now the wearer can hear the world around them and feel safer being a part of that world. Hearing properly is known to lighten one’s state of mind and improve quality of life.

Hearing aids are also one of the more expensive types of medical device in the market today. However, the price doesn’t have to put anyone in the poorhouse. The best hearing aid brand manufacturers offer different designs to meet most budgets, from basic to technically advanced.

Less expensive hearing aids from a reputable company work well; however, hearing loss is unique to the individual, and therefore, different models will work better for some than for others. The final choice depends on what features are required and desired, such as Bluetooth connectivity. With almost fifteen hundred models to choose from within Ontario alone, there are many options to consider.

For those that need hearing aids yet find the costs prohibitive, government financial aid programs like the ADP and medical insurance may be available to defray expenses. Reliable dealers like House of Hearing offer flexible payment plans too, helping you get the hearing aids you need and pay over time.

Dispensing Fees and the Ontario Ministry of Health

Within Ontario, the Ministry of Health regulates the hearing aid industry as part of the Prescription Act, which explains why hearing aids sold in the province are registered to the purchaser.

Each clinic charges the manufacturer’s suggested price for the same hearing aid model. The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists (OSLA) lists a recommended schedule of services on their website.

Dispensing fees incorporate the extra clinic charges for necessary services offered to the client with the purchase of new hearing aids, usually for the entire lifecycle of the devices. Unfortunately, some dealers work a substantial dispensing fee into the final purchase price, and it is often more than the ADP covers. Customers are advised to do their research and shop around.

Here is a list of services that are usually included in dispensing fees:

  • Fittings
  • Repairs
  • Adjustments
  • Wax removal and cleaning
  • Extended warranties
  • Loaner hearing aids

Physical Clinic Location Costs

Several factors go into hearing aid pricing if you deal with a physical clinic location. You have the actual device cost that many clinics will advertise. However, additional fees associated with the services provided by the hearing centre or audiologist are added on top. Clinics will charge a higher sticker price through cost bundling that involves paying one price for all the services, including the cost of the hearing aids.

Depending on the location, you may be able to pay-as-you-go for add-ons, but the benefits of taking the package might be worthwhile as they often cover replacement, repair, and batteries for as long as you have the devices.

Alternative Hearing Aid Shopping

With the increased popularity of online shopping, especially during the Covid 19 pandemic, many online resellers have flooded the market with cheap hearing aid imports. These products are not always reliable and may not come with service warranties that mainstream, reputable brands include. It’s a case of buyer beware and may end up more costly in the long run if you are not getting the results you want.

Some companies sell direct to the consumer and may offer online hearing tests and consultation to assist in your decision and programming. Costs may be lower initially, yet the product might not be reliable and required maintenance falls to the buyer.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are not yet available in Canada. A prescription from a licensed hearing health professional is currently required.

The Extra Cost of Enhanced Technology

Not all hearing aid models are designed alike, and today’s hearing aids are built as micro supercomputers, able to process information instantly. Technical factors will always influence the price. When trying different hearing aids, the need for incorporated technology will depend a lot on the user’s specific requirements and preferences.

Lower-cost technology may work well depending on the setting, like a quiet room, but this is a narrow margin of usage. Noisier environments may demand a hearing aid with greater capability.

Additional features in today’s hearing aids include rechargeable batteries, frequency channel controls, Bluetooth capabilities, smartphone apps, speech enhancement, TV connectors, and feedback suppression. It’s certainly a lot to take in, but so exciting when you consider what’s possible.

In summary, hearing aids are expensive. They can range in cost from low to high thousands per unit. The more technology built into the hearing aid, the higher the price. Government subsidies and private health plans help to offset the costs. Lower-end hearing aid models may be appropriate for those with low to moderate hearing loss, but those with more profound hearing loss may require hearing aids with more advanced technology. A good approach is to “buy what you need and add services within your budget.” Be aware of the fine print, bundling costs, and dispensing fees. Choose a hearing centre, such as the House of Hearing, with a proven reputation for professionalism and q

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