Feb 23 2012 | 5 comments
One of the most important considerations when investing in hearing aids is cost. Some models cost $1000; some cost upwards of $7000 for a pair. But it’s not as straightforward as simply comparing numbers. There’s also the question of where you buy.
If you purchase hearing aids from an audiology practice, servicing and other follow-up care will typically be “bundled” into the price of the hearing aids.
If you choose to buy online, some servicing may be covered, but you may be “on your own” when it comes to in-person follow-up care. You may want and benefit from this care, and the cost is a big unknown. This makes it very difficult to compare the “all in” costs of buying hearing aids from an audiologist, vs. buying online.
But the fact is, even if you buy hearing aids online, you can still seek servicing and follow-up care with your local audiologist. And based on an excellent study recently released by Hearing Review, this approach will save you money in a large majority of cases.
The Hearing Review Study
Hearing Review collected data 503 patients for a year after their initial hearing aid fitting, to see how often they returned for follow-up care.
The findings: if you buy hearing aids from an audiologist, you’re likely to make an average of 3 follow-up visits in the year after purchasing your hearing aids. But this isn’t the whole story. There are a very small number of customers out there making 5, 10, or even 15 follow-up visits, and they inflate the overall average.
If you’re like most people, you’re much more likely to be at the lower end of the range. In fact, there is a 50% chance you will make 2 or fewer follow-up visits, and an 80% chance you will make 4 or fewer follow-up visits.
Let’s take this a step further. If we estimate the average cost of a follow-up visit at $100*, this means that if you buy online, there’s a 50% chance you’ll be adding at most $200 to your all-in first-year cost, and an 80% chance you’ll be adding at most $400.
If we compare with the thousands of dollars you’ll save by buying the hearing aid itself online, it becomes clear that if you’re like most people, you’ll save money overall by buying hearing aids online. However, it’s also true that buying online is not for everyone. If you have an unusually high number of follow-up visits, you’ll end up paying less overall for the “bundled package” of care provided from the audiologist.
*A report commissioned by the Virginia State Senate in 2009 found that the average cost of an audiologist was $46.
So... Should I Buy Hearing Aids Online?
Buying hearing aids online is not for everyone. But if you’re like most people, buying online is likely to save you money, while providing flexibility to seek follow up care with the audiologist or hearing aid dispenser of your choice.
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