The cost of hearing aids

Too expensive?

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The New York Times recently ran an interesting piece on why hearing aids are so expensive. The article asks whether it’s a question of patents or the manufacturing environment, and points out how the digital revolution may change the industry.

At USD 900 to 3,500 or more per ear, hearing aids remain one of the more expensive types of assistive devices available, with their cost outstripping that of eyeglasses by 20-fold or more. This may change with the new US Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017, which includes the OTC provisions. It is expected that hearing aids could soon cost around USD 300 or less per ear, under the new law.

Two of the reasons cited for the current high cost of hearing aids were the fact that companies continue to invest in improvements in hearing technology, and the fees that cover the services of highly trained audiologists.

The article emphasizes the significant problems associated with poor hearing: falls, cognitive decline, depression, social isolation, and even simple issues like hearing a car coming down the road, or a home smoke alarm or doorbell. These problems were pointed out by Elizabeth Levine-Davis, a clinical audiologist and coordinator of the Hearing Aid Dispensary at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.

The industry is waiting to see what the new law will bring, but many experts recommend a visit to a trained audiologist, at least for the first pair of hearing aids. The reason is that some hearing problems may have a different cause and hearing aids may simply not be the right solution.

Source: The New York Times.