As part of The New York Times “Well” column, a writer with hearing loss since childhood described her journey trying to find a digital replacement for her analog hearing aid. Along the way, various hearing aids were described as being overpriced for their estimated manufacturing cost. So far, over 250 comments from users and hearing professionals have been generated below the article.
In her article, “The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid,” writer Tricia Romano writes about her quest to find an affordable hearing solution for under $1000. Having had hearing loss for 30 years, she is told by a “salesman” that her old analog hearing aid is broken beyond repair, and that it may even be dangerous. As a result, she visits several hearing aid chain stores to find a replacement, and she investigates less expensive online alternatives, as well.
“A hearing aid is basically just a microphone and amplifier in your ear. It isn’t clear why it costs thousands of dollars,” Romano writes near the beginning of the article.
Through her journey, Romano touches on the bundled pricing structure of most major hearing aids, accounting for high prices. At the same time, she notes that the cost of major electronics has decreased in computers and cell phones, while the major hearing aid brand prices have increased.
In an interview with Deborah Carlson, president of the American Academy of Audiology, Carlson tells Romano that hearing aid prices include research and development, as well as the customized care from audiologists, something not offered by an online hearing aid store.
Romano also interviews Patrick Freuler, founder of online hearing aid company Audicus.com, who says that the average hearing aid today is completely overengineered for most users and adds unnecessary costs to the product.
Toward the end of the article, Romano does concede that having professional care and attention from an experienced hearing health professional may be worth the extra cost. Having finally bought her hearing aid through a Los Angeles Costco, she admits that her experience was “mixed.” She needed her hearing aid adjusted and remade several times, and nearly a year later, she had to be fitted with a completely new brand, which Costco replaced at no additional cost.
Perhaps more damaging to the hearing industry, Romano kept her old hearing aid and later found a hearing aid repairman who told her that he could have fixed her old analog hearing aid for $100.
Read the full article and the comments on The New York Times website.
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