Hearing aid ‘sticker shock’ eases with pay-as-you-go pricing

If you’re among the 48 million older Americans with some degree of hearing loss, you may have experienced a reaction best described as “hearing aid sticker shock.”

It happens when you seek out a hearing aid provider with the thought of purchasing one or more hearing aids. You soon discover that the exorbitant prices make them nearly unaffordable.

To help ease the shock, Trinity Health’s Audiology Department last year introduced an itemized pricing model that lets patients pick and choose which hearing aid products and audiology services they would like to purchase and at what point in time – called “pay-as-you-go.”

“We wanted hearing aids to be as accessible as possible,” said Audiologist Tricia Nechodom, AuD. “Hearing aids and assistive devices are a large investment. Pay- as-you-go gives patients transparency by separating products from professional services and breaking it down into an itemized list.”

The classic model for hearing aid sales has been a bundled model, in which patients purchase a package that includes the hearing aid and various services in one lump sum. While appealing in some instances, in other cases it can result in services being included in the package that weren’t needed and never rendered. “Separating the cost of the hearing aid from the professional services prevents our patients from paying for services they may never use,” Nechodom said.

According to Nechodom, patients previously might see a figure for a hearing aid that ranged from $1,500 to $3,150 per aid. “It was difficult for patients to understand why the device cost so much. Now they’re able to see the breakdown,” she said.

Itemization has helped make hearing aids more affordable – bare bones pricing is $595 plus fitting fees of $500 if patients want to add that. It also has improved access to hearing healthcare.

“Patients have been happy and impressed with the transparency and their choice in hearing care,” Nechodom said, noting that patients are able to more fully understand all costs associated with the aid.

She also noted that a hearing aid is just one tool in the hearing health toolbox. “We don’t want the cost to prohibit the patient’s ability to hear,” she said. “No matter what the budget is, we have a solution to fit a patient’s communication needs.”

Trinity Health audiologists Nechodom, Jerrica Maxson, AuD, and Laura Greer, AuD, are available to help with hearing aid and other hearing-related needs, with offices located in Trinity’s Audiology and Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at Health Center-West, 101-3rd Avenue SW, in Minot.

“We don’t just sell hearing aids,” Nechodom emphasized. “Our goal is to rehabilitate our patients’ hearing health through evidence-based clinical practice.”

For more information or an appointment, please call 857-5986.

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