Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive?
As you look into buying hearing aids you may notice that the cost is more than you might have expected. Why are hearing aids so expensive? The cost of hearing aids is based on many factors including research and development, reliability, customization and programming. Here's a deeper look into the costs of a hearing aid.
Over the past 30 years an enormous amount of research and development has taken place to move hearing aids from simple analog devices to complex, programmable digital devices with vastly improved sound quality and functionality.
What used to be a simple microphone and amplifier that was adjustable only with a screwdriver is now a complex computer with settings that adjust themselves automatically to give you the best listening experience, as well as customizable features that are adjustable with the click of a button.
These developments include telecoils to help you hear better on the telephone, remote controls, and Bluetooth so you can control your hearing aids – and even receive sound directly – from your smart phone. Hearing aids are now much smaller and more discreet than they used to be, and some models even fit completely inside your ear canal making them virtually invisible.
A major cost of hearing aids includes the years of research, development and technology that goes into making these complex devices.
People who rely on their hearing aids wear them from 12-18 hours each day. They wear their hearing aids through rain, snow, sun and sweat. They run, play golf, and sail with their hearing aids.
The devices go through a lot, and they have to be made to last. Switches, connectors, microphones, receivers, and battery contacts have to hold up through years of wear and tear.
It takes manufacturers a lot of time and money to develop the designs, materials and manufacturing processes to ensure that their hearing aids have a long lifespan and function as they should whenever you need them.
Two-thirds of hearing aids sold today are custom made devices, and virtually all hearing aids have some degree of customization.
Custom hearing aids require ear impressions made with medical grade silicone, and then custom crafting your hearing aid shells to the exact dimensions of your ear (or ear canal). Then the microphone, receiver, power supply and other components are added to create a custom hearing aid that's perfect for you. Custom crafting each hearing aid takes time, money and expertise and these costs are passed on to the consumer.
Hearing aids are rarely a perfect fit right out of the box. They require tweaks and adjustments from experienced professionals to make sure the devices work perfectly for you. Two people wearing identical hearing aids will need them adjusted quite differently to be able to hear the same thing.
It takes years of experience and training to make these fine-tuning adjustments to give you the best sound quality for your particular frequencies and severity of hearing loss, as well as the types of activities you engage in. It may take several rounds of adjustments as you adjust to your new devices to get the best sound quality in different environments.
Just as you need to pay any skilled professional – plumber, electrician, auto mechanic – for their time and expertise, the same goes for your audiologist.
Hearing aids offer significant benefits to people living with hearing loss. And while the cost may seem high at first, when you understand what goes into developing and customizing them it makes taking the first step towards better hearing that much easier.