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consumers/hearing aids/pricing/etc.etc

Susan M Lopez lopezs at musc.edu
Tue Sep 23 19:49:09 EST 1997

Today, I saw a woman who was 82 years old.

She has bilateral SNHL and crappy speech discrimination abilities.
She was brought in by her daughter who wanted to know what could be done
to help her mom hear better.

She was wearing a Starkey ITE on her left ear.  I called and found out it
was a Class A circuit.  After more questions, it became apparent that this
woman paid a rediculous amount for two ITE clas A circuit aids with NO
trimpots.  I could not tell if she got the aids from an audiologist or a
hearing aid dealer.

Recent threads centered around the Widex pricing issue between Canada and
the US have highlighted a problem that does exist in our community.
Consumers are not educated about hearing loss and about how to be good
consumers of the hearing health care industry.

State laws allow two groups of hearing health care specialists: hearing
aid dealers and audiologists.  There are many members of each group who do
wonderful jobs and probably just as many in each who do not and who sell
Class A circuits to little old ladies at rediculous prices with no
trimpots when this woman should be in a BTE, etc., etc.  (However, based
on the discrim score, you could argue that no hearing aid circuit would
make that much difference).

For all you non-audiologists who follow this group, please understand that
you owe it to yourself to do your own homework when it comes to pricing.
Yes, it would be great if everyone charged the same thing for the same
product.  But life ain't perfect.  Different individuals have different
needs when it comes to hearing health care.  Different people can spend
different amounts of money to buy a hearing aid.  You can spend a lot of 
money and get a high end product or very little money and get a Whisper
XL for $29.95--but wait, I think the FDA put a stop to them.

If you are unhappy with the price quote you get for a hearing aid, then go
find someone else who sells what you want (Widex) and compare apples to
apples (same model, circuit, service contract).  If you find an
unbelievable deal out there, you are probably getting screwed someplace.
Hearing aids ain't cheap.  I saw an ad in a local flyer for hearing aids
for something insane/inane/unbelievable like $250 for a canal style. Yeah,
right. Class A circuit, no trimpots. Lots of distortion at moderate input
levels.  No real ear measurement.  That's what $250 buys you, or perhaps
even worse.  And what really disgusts me is that lots of hearing impaired
people will walk into that office and try their fabulously cheap hearing
aid and then get disgusted when the aid doesn't do what they want it to
and never try another hearing aid because "I already tried once and it
didn't do any good and I wastedmy money."

I suggest you read "How to Buy a Hearing Aid" in Consumer Reports November
1992 issue.  If you have specific complaints about a professional you
dealt with, complain to your state licensing board or the national
certification board and better business bureaus.  Those of us who try and
do a good job will thank you.  I may know that joe blow down the road
sells crappy hearing aids, but I can't put him out of business.  All I can
do is try and do a better job than he does and hope that if he screws
enough people, that sooner or later someone will take their case to the
above mentioned boards and get something done!

Meanwhile, throwing around insults at people who ask you not to directly
discuss pricing on this group will not get you anywhere.  Throwing insults
at people rarely gets anyone anywhere.  If you have questions, ask them.
But do not insult people when you do not like the answers that you are
provided with.  Maybe you need to ask a better question....

'Nuff said.

Susan Lopez
(all things expressed here are strictly my opinions and do not reflect on
my employer in any way shape or form)

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