Hearing aids more affordable with ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ pricing
About 48 million Americans over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss, the Hearing Loss Association of America reports. One of every three seniors over 65, and one of every two over 75, has difficulty hearing.
To help combat the different degrees of hearing loss, those who struggle with communicating have turned to forms of technology. According to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a branch of the National Institute of Health, about 28.8 million adults in the United States can benefit from using hearing aids.
Perhaps you looked into hearing aids and maybe you were intimidated by the large price tag attached to this saving grace. What exactly does that cost reflect? The price of a hearing aid may not only reflect the cost of the hearing aid itself, but of services that come with it – services that you may never need.
Now, with a “pay as you go” philosophy, audiology patients at Trinity Health can potentially save as they no longer have to buy packages that include services they don’t need.
Trinity’s Audiology team, which includes audiologists Laura Greer, Jerrica Maxson, and Tricia Nechodom, AuDs., now provides an itemized model, which is recommended by the American Academy of Audiology and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and endorsed by the Hearing Loss Association of America. Itemization went info affect in January.
“Patients have been happy and impressed with the transparency and their choice in hearing care,” Nechodom says, noting that patients are able to more fully understand all costs associated with the hearing aid.
“Before, patients would see a figure anywhere between $1,500 and $3,150 per aid and not understand why it cost that much,” she explained. “They’ve been happy to see the breakdown.”
The classic model for hearing aid sales was a bundling model, in which the patient would purchase a particular package that included the hearing aid and so many services in one lump sum. While appealing, some services included in the package were paid for, but never rendered.
“Our nationally recognized itemized model sets us apart from other clinics,” Nechodom says. “Hearing aids and assistive devices are a large investment, and separating their costs from the professional services prevents our patients from paying for services they may never use.”
Nechodom likened the model to purchasing a car: you buy the car and then purchase services – oil changes or new tires, for example – for it as you go along.
The itemized service model offers transparency. Products are separated from professional services and broken down into an itemized list. Hearing aid pricing is more transparent to consumers, Nechodom says. “We want hearing aids to be as accessible as possible. We provide the patients with the choice to pay-as-you-go or add a service plan.”
Itemization helps make hearing aids affordable – potentially by a thousand dollars – and improves access to hearing healthcare, Nechodom adds.
“With internet sales and a push for over-the-counter hearing aid products at the national level, there are more options than ever for patients to purchase hearing aids,” she says, noting that most manufacturers produce hearing aids that can be programmed at Trinity Health. “We want to help people hear – it doesn’t matter where you get the product.”
“We don’t just sell hearing aids. We want to rehabilitate our patients hearing through evidence-based clinical practice. The hearing aid is only one tool in the improved communication toolbox,” Nechodom adds, noting that she doesn’t want the cost to prohibit the patient’s ability to hear. “No matter what the budget is, I feel we have a solution to fit our patients’ communication needs.”
Trinity Health’s Audiology department is available to help with your hearing aid and other hearing-related needs. Their offices are located at Health Center-West, 101 3rd Avenue SW, in Minot. For an appointment, please call 857-5986.
Loaner Hearing Aids Available to Audiology Patients
If an audiology patient needs to have their hearing aids repaired, a loaner bank at Trinity Health can come to the rescue. While hearing aids are being repaired, the bank lends out a replacement set in the meantime, explained Tricia Nechodom, AuD, an audiologist with Trinity Health.
“We will be able to provide any of our patients with equipment,” Nechodom said. “It takes about a week, a week and a half, for the hearing aid to come back from being repaired. Some patients can’t go that long without their hearing aid.”
Once patients have hearing aids, they rely on them. “It’s helpful to keep their lives running smoothly if we can,” she said.
The bank is maintained by the audiology department, which includes Nechodom, Jerrica Maxson, AuD, and Laura Greer, AuD, and is supplemented from donations from patients, as well as older technology and demo models from the hearing aid manufacturers. “If someone is upgrading and they have a set of hearing aids that still work, some patients choose to donate them,” Nechodom said. “We like having hearing aids here available to loan because quite a few people rely on them.”
Currently, there are about 20 hearing aids in the bank and Nechodom estimates loaners are programmed at least once a week.
The department is always accepting donations of hearing aids. Once the hearing aid technology is too outdated or the hearing aid is no longer functional, they can be sent to one of the manufacturers for parts. Some of those hearing aids are actually donated to mission programs and help people across the world, Nechodom said.
Donations to the hearing aid loan bank can be made by dropping them off at or mailing them to the Audiology department, at: Health Center-West, Suite 203, 101 3rd Avenue SW, Minot, ND 58701.
Nechodom was also instrumental in starting a pediatric hearing aid and cochlear implant bank for families across the state. As part of North Dakota Hands and Voices, a parent-run organization for families of children with hearing loss, the bank helps provide hearing aids or cochlear implants to families while insurance is pending, equipment is being repaired, or the family is pursuing a hearing aid trial prior to cochlear implantation. This bank is also housed at Trinity Health.