Written on December 30th, 2009 at 10:02 pm by

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It’s true that hearing aids can cost a lot. Just like a high-definition TV or a new computer, there is a real cost for advanced electronics. The technologies developed for digital hearing aids are amazing both because of their tiny size and their impressive capabilities. But the technology cost doesn’t tell the whole story.

Professional fees

A hearing aid costs hundreds of dollars to make at the manufacturer. However, it is traditionally marked up 10 to 15 times its original cost by the time it reaches the wearer. The reason? Hearing care professionals add their fees for the legitimate time they spend fitting and customizing a hearing aid for each individual patient. You pay a hefty markup on a hearing aid up front when you purchase it.

Lack of insurance coverage

In addition, many people do not find relief from these costs from their insurance policy. In general, most health insurance companies do not offer coverage for hearing aids, although a few companies offer supplemental programs that, for an additional premium cost, will allow some hearing coverage.

Cost often supersedes care

Because of the high costs, many people who could benefit from hearing aids do not seek treatment, or decide against the purchase even when it has been recommended. As a result, many facets of their lives are affected beyond the convenience of good hearing. Work performance may be impaired, there can be personal safety issues, and a link between poor hearing and depression should not be overlooked.

Affordable solutions are emerging

While the cost of traditional hearing aids continues to rise due to additional advances in hearing aid technologies, one company has taken a different direction. The HearAid Company has focused its efforts on bypassing the costs added to hearing aids by professional visits.

HearAid takes the approach of making a digital hearing aid self-fitting and self-adjustable. The company manufacturers hearing instruments with the same hearing technologies used in expensive, proven hearing aids around the world. The aid itself, however, is a “one size fits all” design.

Self-fitting and Self-adjustable hearing aids

By including three sizes of ear buds, HearAid devices are packaged to accommodate a range of sizes that will fit most adults. Perhaps more importantly is the instrument’s pre-configured programs. The HearAid Company studied more than 400,000 audiograms (hearing tests) to determine the most common sound ranges that caused people trouble. Using these results, they configured the HearAid devices with programs to help 90% of people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.

A new approach to the hearing aid industry

This non-traditional tactic is appealing on several levels to people experiencing hearing loss. First, having the independence to fit and adjust a hearing aid personally is more convenient than having to visit a hearing care professional time after time. Second, the price difference of a “ready-to-wear” solution makes the purchase of a hearing aid a viable option more many more people. HearAid sells their instruments starting at $299—a far cry from competitive aids priced $1500-$3200.

HearAid currently offers two models of hearing aids. The HearAid Original, priced at $299 each, is a behind-the-ear (BTE) device that features easy-to-use controls for volume and program selection. The HearAid Micro, priced at $399 each, offers similar hearing advantages and is smaller in size.

Eliminating the “middleman” is a new business model in the hearing aid industry, and one that consumers may very well find appealing. The HearAid Company sells its devices directly to the public via its website, www.HearAidStore.com, or by phone at 877-GO-HEARAID (877-464-3272).

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