Comparing Hearing Aid Pricing 

Over the past decade, the prices of most electronic devices have dropped considerably.  Smaller components, streamlined methods of manufacturing, and new business models have all contributed to the overall decrease in the price of everyday digital products.  But, hearing aid prices have continued to increase.

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Hearing Aid and Electronics Price Trends 

Hearing Aid Prices Don’t Follow the Trend

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Unlike hearing aid prices, those of most common day consumer electronics products – cameras, laptops, TVs, and even GPS systems – have dropped on average by more than half! It is a very common trend in free markets where consumers have substantial choice on where to obtain their preferred products. Remember the origins of the desktop computer? It was traditionally sold for hefty sums at physical stores and outlets… until new, online business models offered consumers a far more economical alternative where they could get the same product.

Low-cost manufacturing in the Far East, streamlined production processes, and the commoditization of components further accelerated this trend… but it all starts with offering consumers choice. The only exceptions in the above example are the MP3 player and our old friend, the digital hearing aid.

The MP3 has experienced a price jump because its capabilities have advanced disproportionally compared to devices from 10 years ago. For example, the average MP3 player could store 128MB of data (roughly 12 songs) in 2000. However, today the average MP3 player can store 160G of data (roughly 40,000 songs)… a 1250x increase!

The Path To Making Hearing Aids Affordable

Hearing aids are a different story. Even models with basic capabilities have experienced a steady climb in price, making them unaffordable and unavailable to the majority of people with hearing loss. The average hearing aid prices have almost doubled in the past 10 years! Though today’s hearing aids can, in essence, “do more” because they now have additional channels, for most people with a mild to moderately severe hearing loss they are almost over-engineered.  The additional channels do not significantly help those with moderate hearing loss. In other words, the technological improvements in hearing aids have not made them more affordable— they have made them less accessible.

Making Hearing Aids Reasonable Priced and Accessible to Everyone

A major contributor to the high prices of hearing aids is the additional costs that are bundled with hearing aid sales – especially in the audiologist clinic. Historically, consumers had few alternatives on where to purchase affordable hearing aids – however new >online hearing aids distribution models are rapidly changing this… similar to the desktop computer example from earlier.

As markets become freer, consumers more educated, hearing technology more standardized and more choice abounds, hearing aid prices will eventually see a similar downwards trajectory. Audicus Hearing Aids’ direct model is part of this ongoing trend to make affordable hearing aids, which are more accessible.

Read more about the prices of hearing aids versus those of an iPad.

Sources: New York Times, http://www.hearingreview.com/, http://www.saveourgps.org, http://www.printgreener.com, www.wsj.com, http://gigaom.com, http://usatoday.com, http://online.wsj.com

by Ramanjot Kang

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