Why does it cost so much?
First of all, hearing aids today have tiny computer chips inside of them. They have features that allow the two hearing aids to work together, much like your brain allows your two ears to work together to gather information that allows you to hear. If your ears are missing any information because of a hearing loss in certain frequencies, your brain has to work harder to put together the sounds that help it decipher conversation. The chips inside of your hearing aids help with this processing. This chip also gathers information that will help your hearing professional customize the fit of your hearing aids to allow for a more tailored sound gathering for you.
To assure that these chips will increase the sound at the pitches of frequencies that you need it increased, and reduce noise when you need that assistance; manufacturers spend upward of a million dollars on research and development. This along with all the services that they provide you for your hearing aids increases the wholesale cost of your aids. Without research and development you could have an amplifier that does not meet your hearing needs and worse yet, one that could further damage your hearing.
Manufacturers provide support for your devices by way of software and training for your hearing professional. This is essential if you want your aids to sound comfortable while they provide you with the highs and lows that you need. You do not want to hear yourself echoing and have to say, “What?” every time your husband/wife speaks to you. There is quite a bit of customized fine tuning involved in the fitting of a pair of hearing aids.
Manufacturers also have to eat the cost of hearing aids that are returned. They cannot be resold to another patient. If you have a warranty, which you should, that is also absorbed into the price of a hearing aid. I am sure you are noticing that these prices are adding up to something much more expensive than the amplifier that you can purchase at your local Rite Aid.
I do not know all of the factors that are involved in the pricing of hearing aids by the manufacturer, but I do know that they are expensive wholesale as well. The mark up on hearing aids is nominal, as far as the cost of the aid in comparison to the added service cost.
When you go to the garage to get your car repaired, you expect to pay for parts and labor/service. When you get your hearing aids, you pay for service as well. That hearing healthcare person that you trust and go to with your hearing aids for repairs and cleaning; went to training for certification. It all costs money. The audiometer used for your hearing test cost thousands of dollars. The software and equipment used for programming your aids also cost something. When you go to that office for a 30-60 minute appointment, you are taking time away from your provider. I am sure she/he is happy to see you and care for your needs, as am I with all of my patients, but there are costs involved with having an office, equipment, supplies and personnel to care for you.
I love to work for free! No, really, I do. I spend many hours volunteering and servicing people that did not purchase from me, because I want to help them. The problem is that I have to pay to live in a house and nourish my body. That means that we need to profit from our business. Services do cost even if you do not see that separated from your hearing aids. Higher priced aids have service prices included.
I know that it should be easy. We compare the same exact model/make of hearing aid; one set is $1,000.00 less. It seems to be a “no brainer” to go with the cheaper set, but what are your service costs? Now you can do a better comparison and not risk getting a set of aids that are not programmed to fit your hearing needs that you will return or put in a drawer forever.