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Douglas Wood woodd at DGABBY.MFLDCLIN.EDU
Tue Oct 7 10:00:28 EST 1997

Mr. Kaminski:

You raise several interesting points in your posting, and they really
need be addressed.

1) Audiologists are NOT physicians. Not in the US. We are required to
spend minimally 6 years obtaining a BS & MS (or MA), spend thousands
on this education, and when we become certified-our base salary is
on average 1/5 that of an ENT physician. The last reason most choose
to become audiologists is to make money or to have status, like so
many do that choose medicine.  Audiologists DON'T make money & as your
attitude suggests, DON'T have status. Audiologists are a heterogenous
bunch, but many chose this field because they enjoy the work. 
Interesting point, though. I have never known a doctor that posted
prices for services or discussed this freely. 

2. Hearing aids are regulated as medical devices by the federal
gov't. As such, any comparison to gasoline, stereo equipment,
computers, etc. is at best, ridiculous. The only similarity is that
in both instances, they must be paid for. The similarities end there.

3. Hearing aids as medical devices are fitted individually. To this
end, they require clinical evaluation of hearing, custom fitting of
the device, and follow up care in both the short and long term.
A generic posting of price does little to describe the skills of the
person testing the auditory system, taking the impression, fitting
the aid or performing follow up care. It also does not describe what
is covered, warranty, long term service, and other service related
issues. Yet, it is these competency and service issues that are the
crux of most successful fittings. Price is relevant, of course, but
if it is the primary concern, then you should expect, as the saying
goes, "to get what you pay for".

Most audiologists are not afraid to discuss prices, but if all that
is discussed is numbers with little or no concern for the all
important intangibles, then the comparisons are not just silly, but
they are detrimental to good hearing health care. You would not be
better off as a consumer armed with an array of numbers-you would just
have a bunch of numbers that are, in and of themslves, meaningless.

There is no "trust" or other conspiratorial network to conceal the
prices of hearing aids. Pick up the Yellow Pages and call the
audiologists listed. Discuss your concerns, and of course, prices. You
will undoubtedly find an intelligent and forthright individual who
is happy to discuss these things in their proper context.
But don't expect intelligent, highly trained, and educated professionals
to willy nilly post numbers here because you (individually or as a
group of consumers) say we should! In the end, you, as a consumer, may
do as you please. Wishing to educate yourself is a noble undertaking,
but it should be done in a thoughtful and reasonable manner. 



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