According to The Praeger Guide to Hearing and Hearing Loss, audiologists bundle follow-on care with hearing aid sales 87% of the time. But why is bundling so widespread?
Hearing Review’s point of view is that, “The bundling of audiologic professional services serves as a form of ‘insurance’ for [audiologic treatments/aural rehabilitation] service. This is because, when a hearing device is purchased, neither the patient nor audiologist knows just how much audiologic intervention will be required or utilized by a given patient.”
However, we suspect that most patients actually have a pretty good sense of their tendency to schedule unusually frequent checkups.
Since you're a good judge of your own likely behavior, you’re in a good position to decide whether you'll be among the only 20% of the population that makes 5 or more follow-up visits in the year after purchasing hearing aids from an audiologist.
If you believe you're likely to be part of this 20%, you may benefit from the "insurance" provided by bundled services. But if this doesn't sound like you, you're likely to be overpaying for hearing aid services you'll never use.
We believe there these are the real reasons for hearing aid bundling:
1) It makes apples-to-apples hearing aid price comparisons difficult. For most people, buying hearing aids online is going to be cheaper in the long run, even if they pay full price for audiologist care. Audiologists have an incentive to obscure this information.
2) It makes hearing aid customers sticky. Let’s imagine you’ve already paid up-front for all of your follow-up care. Even if a friend tells you there is a great new audiologist nearby, you’re not likely to make the switch! Audiologists love this, because a customer who pays in advance, is a customer who's going to stick around.
Buying hearing aids online is a way for customers to "unbundle" the sale and servicing of hearing aids, and reduce overall hearing aid cost.