Beyond Hearing Aid Prices in 2021

Jan 15, 2021Hearing aids

Buying hearing aids in 2021 is just as big a decision as it has ever been. A quality pair of hearing aids should work effectively for you for at least 5 years. As the technology evolves you may choose to upgrade every 3 to 5 years but it’s not uncommon for them to last up to a decade if they are well looked after. One has to keep in mind that hearing aids are medical devices rather than white goods like a T.V. Hearing aids must be individualised to your unique needs. Success with hearing aids will depend on how well they are fitted, programmed and maintained over the years you’ll wear them. 

When purchasing hearing aids we encourage you to find out about these factors and inclusions:

A) What style, model of hearing aid & level of technology you are acquiring (The Product)

B) What are the professional services and after care support conditions that will be included (Professional Service Inclusions & Aftercare) I know it’s a lot to consider, but your primary sense of hearing is worth it! 

Two Hearing Aid Pricing Models (Bundled Vs Unbundled)

There are two main models under which hearing aids can be purchased and they are either the Bundled Model or Unbundled model.

Hearing Aid Bundling

This is where the price of the hearing aids includes the professional service and aftercare. It also includes the after sales conditions such as warranty duration and often insurance for loss and damage beyond repair (DBR). As advocates for high end technology and best outcomes at Harmony Hearing, we include two years of unlimited service for Premium hearing aid fittings and at least 12 months for Advanced and Midrange. We also pride ourselves on being able to offer at least a 3 year national warrantand 5 years on select hearing aid models.

Factoring in the Acclimatisation Phase

When new hearing aids are fitted there is an acclimatisation period even for experienced users. Our brains have to adapt to make use of the new sound information and changes in sound quality, even for one’s own voice. Research shows this works with the plasticity of the brain where new neural adaptations and pathways form. This process takes time. Hearing aids are rarely set to their full prescription from the beginning, but to an introductory level that is within an individuals’ comfort. We call this a clarity/comfort compromise.  So, it’s important to have access to an ongoing service so you can have the hearing aid amplification gradually incremented up to it’s optimum to suit your hearing levels and maximise your ability to follow speech in a variety of environments. At Harmony Hearing we build into our rehabilitation program what we call a 3 to 4 month adaptation review. This is opportunity to review how users are going, check hearing aid performance and acclimatisation to see whether you are ready for the next adaptation level of amplification. It also affords more coaching in correct use and management of hearing devices. We developed this diagram to illustrate this process with our former logo.

Hearing Aid Unbundling

This is where the hearing aids are purchased separate from service inclusions (Product Only). Online Hearing Aid stores are popping up like field mushrooms in autumn. You may acquire the hearing aids for a slightly cheaper price, but what are you really getting in terms of professional service and aftercare? Probably a very rudimentary initial fitting where the hearing aids are programmed to your Audiogram using manufacturer default settings to your hearing test. There almost certainly will be no verification with precise Real Ear Measurements (REM’s) to optimise the hearing aids to your unique ear size, shape and ear canal volume and almost no coaching in the effective use, care and maintenance. 

How Unbundling Can Work

Hearing Aid Unbundling can be acceptable as long as it’s clearly illustrated what professional service inclusions and aftercare there really is. For example you buy the hearing aids for a set up front fee and then select one of several service packages. For example you may choose to just “Pay as you go”, 60 days of service or a 1 year of aftercare or 3 year aftercare package. Just be clear what services these aftercare package include. 60 days of care really isn’t in the interests of best practice when it can take numerous months to adapt and increment the hearing aids up to their full prescription. A Pay as you Go method of service delivery can also work as long as there’s a clear upfront schedule of fees for services delivered. A bit like how a good mechanic will itemise the parts and service hours completed in fixing your car.

The Problem with Partner Clinics 

 Some large online stores will simply sell you the hearing aids and relinquish all the responsibility of professionally fitting, coaching you and maintenance to what they call a partner clinic. With this business model the online store pays the separate business a fee to deliver all the professional care and aftercare service support. Such companies have a strong online presence sparing no expense with their aggressive online marketing. Their websites feature mega menu’s of many hearing aid products and masquerade as having many locations Australia wide. These are really separate business’s. There are more than 50 shades of grey as to the quality control over the fitting service and aftercare with their 100’s of purported Australia wide clinics. If you think about it, the poor “partner clinic” has relinquished the hearing aids sale and for a humble fee shy of a thousand dollars delivers the assessment, fitting and follow up appointment and many hours of after care service for a year of more to come. The online hearing aid shop makes the sale, claims the bulk of the profits and looks the other way. Something’s got to give!

“Fit & Go” Oh No!

Definitely not best practice, but some dispensers provide a “fit & go” option or style of hearing aid dispensing. Once their hearing aid sale is done they are like “Sayonara sucker” and you are pretty much stuck with sub-optimal hearing whether you realise it or not. If you then hope to better optimise their performance you may have to then pay through the nose to get a local hearing clinic to properly fit them and some may not even service you at all as they claim they had no quality control over your acquisition of the hearing aids in the first place. You may be left wondering “What now?”

Such behaviours damage the hearing health care industry as they result in poor outcomes and the individual never realises the true benefits they could have obtained often resulting if dis-continued usage (hearing aids end up in the drawer) and disillusionment.

Online Hearing Aid Stores

In a relatively unregulated industry many online hearing aid stores are popping up everywhere. Their marketing focuses on the hearing aid product and its price. They like to perpetuate the myth that success is all about getting the best device at the cheapest price. Hearing aids are in fact medical devices and not white goods and for them to work properly they need to be fitted and verified with real ear measurements (REM’s) and careful coaching in their proper use, management and maintenance of the instruments needs to occur. Many first-time users fall into the trap of just going for cheapest price and overlook the service and upkeep required. 

Avoid the Price Gougers 

We believe going for a fair hearing aid price is important and to avoid the over inflated price gougers, but really weigh up the service and decide is it “like for like.” The antithesis of the obnoxiously cheap online store with near to no service, but just as abhorrent, is the clinic that hides their inflated prices in the guise of a self-proclaimed superior service experience. We hope this prompts you to be discerning when selecting a hearing health care provider. At Harmony Hearing we take pride in offering the best brand hearing aids at some of the most affordable prices in Australia whilst including the necessary professional care to ensure they’re performing optimally for the long term. We include a comprehensive hearing assessment, needs assessment, diagnostic checks of your hearing aids to ensure they are performing optimally, real ear measurements and validation outcome measures to determine your benefits in everyday life. To see our price ranges please visit: https://harmonyhearing.com.au/hearing-aids/hearing-aid-prices/

Your Hearing Rehabilitation Team

Hearing aids by themselves are appliances or tools that will only perform as well as they are fitted and fine-tuned and maintained on an ongoing basis in a changing environment. 

An analogy is that for a racing car driver to be successful they need a well engineered and tuned car, however they also need the support of a whole organisation including the race coach, pit stop crew for efficient maintenance and engineers.

At Harmony Hearing we schedule a routine annual review to re-assess your hearing, check hearing aid functioning and fine tune to your current levels. You have the opportunity to book in at any stage of the year if you notice change in hearing aid performance or suspect your hearing has changed. We’ll check it over and make sure all is optimised. We include specialist services such as gentle ear wax removal under a microscope using an ear suctioning technique. Wax and debris accumulation in ear canals it the most common reason hearing aids breakdown or perform sub-optimally. 

Choose an Independent Clinic 

You may not realise it, but most Australia hearing clinics are owned by hearing aid manufacturers. They are often the larger national chains and typically only recommend the hearing aids made by their owners even if a better solution is available. 

Harmony Hearing is a local Perth family owned Independent practice with a health focus. As we aren’t owned by a hearing aid manufacturer our clients receive unbiased trustworthy advice. A lot of independent clinics in Australia have been vertically integrated into larger chains to secure their supply chains.

White Labelled or Rebranded Hearing Aids Anyone? No Thanks!

Corporates that sell both spectacles and hearing aids have tricks up their sleeve. They advertise a low entry price for premium Name Brand models, but steer visitors into their rebranded or “White labelled” models. This makes it difficult for the consumer to compare generations and levels technology. There’s no way of knowing you are getting the latest generation technology or being able to compare the features of a given technology level. They market that they have Audiologists readily available at every branch, but require their clinicians to cycle between 2 to 3 branches. You are better off visiting a clinic that has a sole focus on hearing health care.

Due Diligence 

It is only natural with the purchase of bigger ticket items such as hearing aids that people do their due diligence and research their options. Hearing loss is incredibly common with one in six Australian adults experiencing hearing loss and only a quarter of those people that can benefit substantially from the use of hearing aids actually take action and seek help. Please make sure that on your hearing health care journey that you don’t focus purely on hearing aid price. It is essential you get along with your hearing care professional, have confidence in their skill level and understand the aftercare conditions that form part of a comprehensive hearing rehabilitation program.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Harmony Hearing if you have any queries. Call 1800 02 04 06 or email: info@harmonyhearing.com.au

We look forward to hearing from you!