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News: Price differences muddy hearing aid treatment choices

Price differences muddy hearing aid treatment choices

Price differences muddy hearing aid treatment choices

30/11/2016 - Audiologists, Ethics, Hearing Aids, Treatment

Understand the difference between bundled and unbundled pricing

Frequently when looking at treating a hearing loss with hearing aids I get asked why there are large differences in pricing across different companies for the same hearing aids and why some companies are so much more expensive. The answer is not straightforward.

If you were to scout the internet or visit several hearing providers you may find a large variation of pricing between exactly the same hearing devices. This is largely due to the different service provision, or treatment package, that is automatically included in the price of the hearing aid.

There are now two methods of pricing within the Audiological industry in Australia, called bundled and unbundled. Until recently traditional hearing aid sales were bundled and you would pay a set price for the hearing aid which included all the treatment and service provision for life of the hearing aid. Hearing providers had to estimate and build into the cost of hearing aids five years or more of service provision and treatment. Because it’s extremely difficult to estimate exactly what will be required over 5 or more years, some Audiologists will build in a safety buffer in the cost.

The problem with this model is that patients think it is the hearing aids which is the expense, but in reality part of it can be attributed to the expense of the Audiologists time to provide the service and associated treatment for five or more years that you may not need.

The other big problem with bundling services is that if a hearing aid is lost or damaged close to purchase date, you move away from the provider, or god forbid pass away not long after the purchase, you have paid for all these consultations which you never receive.   

To counter these potential inequities of lengthy service provision and to make the actual costs when purchasing a hearing aid more transparent, many Audiologists are now moving to an unbundled model. Unbundling consists of breaking down and providing transparency on the clinical costs separate to the hearing aid cost and making you aware of them.  

Under the unbundled model Audiologists like Clarity don’t make their income from selling a hearing aid as they provide hearing aids for minimal costs (anywhere from $250), but charge an hourly rate for expert consultation, or a treatment package that best suits your needs and requirements. A reputable Audiologist will provide a full costing breakdown of services associated with treating your hearing loss including how many consultations it may take, and then let the you decide whether they wish to pay per consultation or package their treatment plan which may cover unlimited consultations similar to bundled packages.

Providing transparency in audiology costs is ethical practice and can significantly reduce the costs associated with treating hearing loss with hearing aids. 

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