In almost any significant decision, you can be sure that money will be a factor. “Where should we spend our vacation?” “Should we get a new sofa, or spend a few more years on our ol’ reliable?” You may even ask yourself: “Is this medical expense worth my money?”
However, when it comes to your hearing, ignoring any problems you notice will more than likely lead to further loss of hearing, and other issues like insomnia, exhaustion, or even dementia.
|Single hearing aid prices||Phonak||Oticon||ReSound||Widex||Signia|
Information updated September 2020
For an immediate answer, it's tricky to get a firm number on how much hearing aids cost. Cheaper hearing aids can be around $500, but a newer hearing aid that comes packed with features can cost upwards of $3,000.
In this article, we’ll be going over the cost of hearing aids; whether it’s the pricey recent release, or an older cheaper model, we’ll break down what you get for your money and why hearing aids are worth paying for.
The average cost of hearing aids
To help you understand the pricing behind hearing aids, we’ve put together a cost guide to make sure you understand where your money is going, as well as helping you make the wisest hearing aid investment. We’ve taken the most prescribed hearing aid brands and supplied their lowest and highest prices for a single hearing aid, to show you the general range you’d be looking at when considering the average cost of hearing aids.
For more information on how the best hearing aids compare and which ones we recommend, check out our guide on the Best Hearing Aids of 2020. Generally, the pricier a hearing aid is, the more additional content it will come with. This can include Bluetooth, built-in artificial intelligence, and in some cases even real-time language translation.
These prices are based on an average of multiple vendors. The final price given by your hearing specialist may vary based on your level of hearing loss and the ongoing product support provided. To find out exactly how much a hearing aid will cost you, fill in this form for a consultation with a professional hearing specialist.
How much do good hearing aids cost?
A top of the line hearing aid will cost you around $3,000–$4,000. Depending on the company you’re buying from, you’ll be getting a wide range of connectivity options (like BlueTooth or app support) as well as integrated software that can improve your hearing experience. For example, Signia have launched a new mode via their app claiming to improve speech through a face mask.
Even the cheapest hearing aids from a reputable company will do their job well. These will typically run you a figure in the low thousands, depending on what extra features you’re looking for.
For example, one of Oticon's best models is the Opn S. This comes with BrainHearing and ConnectClip, two technologies that greatly improve the wearer's quality of life.
But like we said, even the most featureless hearing aid will still serve its primary purpose. You can think of hearing aids like cell phones. Even the cheapest flip phones can send texts and make calls, but an expensive smartphone can allow you to online shop, stream movies, and all kinds of other functions.
The same principle applies to hearing aids. They will always allow you to improve your hearing, but if you go higher on price, they’ll allow you to do a lot more on top.
Cost of invisible hearing aids
Invisible hearing aids are a popular item. As hearing aid technology progresses, they've become smaller and smaller, to the point that you no longer have to wear pieces of plastic behind your ear. Instead, those with hearing loss may have the option of using “invisible hearing aids.”
Invisible hearing aids sit within the ear canal, out of sight. It might sound like they could cost more due to the appeal of them being harder to spot, but invisible hearing aids can actually cost less than a “normal” hearing aid. They're too small to include many extra features, and intended mostly for those with less profound forms of hearing loss, meaning they're less powerful.
This does mean, obviously, that not everyone is suited for an invisible hearing aid. Those with more profound hearing loss will need something more powerful, like behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids. Have no fear, however, as science has progressed, these hearing aids have become a lot smaller, sleeker, and subtler, meaning that even the non-invisible hearing aids are harder to notice by the naked eye.
“But I’ve seen hearing aids for sale at a tenth of the price!”
You may have seen prices in the low $150 to $300 range. However, what you’re seeing is not a hearing aid. Instead, you’ve been looking at personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).
If a hearing aid is a car, a PSAP is a bicycle. On paper, they serve the same function – “get me from A to B” – but in reality, they are entirely different concepts. Obviously a car costs a lot more than a bike, but the intricacies, research, and resources behind a car are far more complex than those behind a bike.
While hearing aids and PSAPs both serve the same function – “help me hear better” – they are as far removed as a car is from a bike. A PSAP is a basic rig comprising a simple microphone and speaker, whereas a hearing aid is much more complex. For more information on this, check out our “9 Reasons Not to Buy Hearing Aids Online” (spoiler alert: this is number 9).
The technology behind PSAPs is one of the 21st century’s more common creations: the microphone and the speaker. Is a hearing aid really that much more complicated?
Why are hearing aids more expensive?
When you’re buying a hearing aid, what you’re really buying is a package. Warranties, check-ups, services, and tunings are all generally bundled with the purchase of a hearing aid. And modern hearing aids can do so much more than amplify noise. They can balance frequencies, cut out background noise, manage feedback, account for direction, and perform bluetooth streaming.
As you can see, this is a much more powerful piece of equipment than a simple amplifier.
Finally, hearing aids are not lined up on the store walls to be taken and worn immediately. Ears are all shaped differently, and a hearing aid should be specifically crafted to fit your ear. This process involves creating a cast of your ear, tuning the aid to suit your situation, and some follow-up consultations.
And while PSAPs may be worn for a few months before a replacement is needed, hearing aids last a lot longer. Oticon, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers, suggests that a hearing aid should last anywhere from three to seven years.
Let’s average that out to five years, and say the average hearing aid costs $2,000, intended for use every day. That is 1,825 days of use, meaning you’re only spending just over a dollar a day for restoration of your hearing – which is a pretty big bargain.
We spoke to Lindsey Banks, resident Audiologist at Clear Living, for her take on hearing aids, and the cost behind them.
“The cost of the hearing aids is not just for the devices themselves, but for the professionals' expertise and time spent with you to make sure the hearing aids are meeting your needs. Before you even arrive for your hearing aid fitting appointment, your hearing provider has spent time setting up and checking the function of your hearing aids.
“Then they spend an hour or two with you for the hearing aid fitting appointment, making sure the hearing aids fit well, are prescribed for your hearing loss, make fine-tuning adjustments based on your preferences, take follow-up measurements to verify proper amplification levels, and show you how to use the devices properly.
“It is also likely that you will see your hearing aid provider within a few weeks of your fitting appointment for another 30 minute to 1 hour follow-up appointment, as well as a few more times as needed within the first few months. This time spent with your hearing aid provider is a crucial component of your success with hearing aids, and is a large part of what you are paying for when you purchase hearing aids.” – Lindsey Banks Au.D.
What is the hearing aid cost breakdown?
So we’ve discussed why hearing aids are more expensive, but there are still more questions to be asked. Let’s see what this money is going towards.
In 2016, a human interest group known as The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) performed a comprehensive breakdown of the costs behind a $4,400 pair of hearing aids, which it calculated to be the average price. It should be stressed that these numbers are mostly averages.
The first bit of research was done to calculate the costs of the manufacturing. These costs are the essential bare minimum needed to produce the hearing aid:
- Research into creating the best product: $1,320
- Materials needed for construction: $440
- Total: $1,760
This means it costs a retailer $1,760 to buy a pair of hearing aids from the manufacturer.
After that, the AARP then looked further into the costs of the retailer, AKA your hearing specialist:
|Initial purchase from manufacturer||$1,760|
|Further product testing||$352|
|Operating licenses/company insurance||$132|
Information updated September 2020
While it may sound as though you’re being swindled by such a high price on such a small device, after looking at the numbers, you can see that only slightly more than 10% of your payment is going towards actual profit toward your hearing specialist (less if you account for the taxes they’ll have to pay.)
10% markup is on the very low end of the average markup spectrum, especially in the healthcare industry, where markups are commonly known to reach 1,000%. Need we mention the infamous case of the daraprim markup, where the price of a pill was raised by over 5,000% after the manufacturing company went through an acquisition?
Keep in mind, this theoretical $4,400 also goes toward the other aspects of your hearing aid package that we mentioned before, like the warranty and check-ups. This adds even more value to your purchase.
If, after reading this breakdown, you’re still somewhat tempted by the low price of the PSAP, allow us to dispel the illusion of the deal that these PSAPs are supposedly offering. The previous breakdown was performed by the AARP, but no such breakdown of PSAPs had been investigated.
Taking apart the PSAP
PSAPs are mainly made up of five components: a microphone, speaker, amplifier, volume control, and power source. We’ve taken the price of an average quality unit (found on the RS Components website) for each of these components to see if you’re getting your money’s worth.
|Speaker (per 1 unit)||$4.57|
|Power source (rechargeable battery)||$2.50-$7|
|Total (assuming highest price)||$34.71|
Information updated September 2020
Let’s be very generous and say $60 is spent on the PSAP in total, since we don’t know what is spent on packaging, shipping, and general production costs. And while we can’t know exactly what is spent on research, the system is fairly simple when it comes to electronics.
Even with this generosity, looking at the average price of the Google shopping results for “buy hearing aids online,” we can calculate a rough average of around $250. This is a markup of 316%. While you may be paying less, a smaller portion of your investment is going towards you.
Despite the effort we just went to, this is not to discount the usefulness of PSAPs. This is simply to demonstrate that if you are undergoing hearing loss and are concerned about getting your money’s worth, hearing aids are actually the smarter investment.
If you are undergoing hearing loss, don’t spend your money on an appetizer when your ears need an entrée. If you’d like a good jumping-off point, check out our article on the best hearing aid brands.
So how do I figure out prices for my hearing aids?
Even though we’ve given you plenty of information on the cost of a hearing aid, it is understandable if you still feel unsure.
This is because the only concrete way to really know how much your hearing aid is going to cost is to consult a hearing specialist. Their retail price will vary, and the type of hearing aid they recommend for you will obviously impact the pricing as well.
What’s the best way to meet with a hearing specialist?
Hopefully this article has helped your understanding of how much hearing aids cost, and why they cost what they do. There’s a saying: “A verbal contract is worth the paper it’s written on.” A similar expression could be made regarding hearing aids: “A hearing aid will only be as good as the person who is trained to fit it for you.”
By arranging a free consultation, you can speak to a local hearing specialist where you can get personalized information and recommendations. You’ll be able to discuss prices with your specialist, and find a hearing solution that fits both your needs and your budget.
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