You may have noticed that a lot of talk about hearing aid pricing has been coming up in the news lately. It is both a hot and sensitive topic in the United States and it seems that Canadian media outlets are picking up on it. The problem is these reports are very one-sided and don’t paint the full picture.
What’s in a dispensing fee? Is it all profit?
A dispensing fee is basically a fee per service. When you purchase hearing aids from Arnold Hearing Centres, you’re paying for the hearing aids themselves, plus the services we provide. Our dispensing fee covers in-office repairs, adjustments, and cleaning for at least three years and up to the entire life of the hearing aid. Our dispensing fee isn't all profit, it's our revenue. It's the money we make from the sale to put towards staff wages, utilities, marketing, rent, etc. After all of our expenses are paid from that revenue, we are left with a profit or a loss.
If the hearing aid parts cost so little to the manufacturer, then why are hearing aids so expensive?
The parts for a hearing aid may indeed cost very little. However, that doesn’t consider the money the manufacturer spends on research, employees, marketing, equipment, facilities, etc. All those costs are spread out among how many of that specific hearing aid model the manufacturer can sell. That single hearing aid chip, or platform, will sell less than a million units worldwide. This means fewer units to spread the expenses across. If hearing aid manufacturers could sell as many hearing aids as Apple sells iPhones (approx. 80 million), then the cost of hearing aids would come down. It’s also a specialized device that needs to be fit by a professional. Braces can cost over $6,000, but we don’t look at the fact that it is 'just metal’. We see that it’s a very customized and specialized piece of equipment that a professional must fit.
I can find cheaper hearing aids online, why shouldn’t I buy those?
Currently, hearing aids are illegal to sell online in Ontario. However, we know there can be ways around that. Some consumers don’t understand that hearing aids aren’t something you buy once and they’re perfect, everyone's hearing is different and hearing aids need to be adjusted, cleaned, repaired, etc. If you buy a hearing aid online and need an adjustment or repair you must ship them back to another country. Many companies charge a fee for expedited shipping as well. Online companies offer warranties and service for anywhere from 90 days to a year, where almost all hearing aids purchased at a licensed hearing aid clinic are covered for 3 or more years. When you factor in repair costs, or maybe even replacement, you’re going to start hitting the same costs in years two or three as if you just bought them at a hearing aid clinic. Most common issues just need a quick cleaning or in-office repair, and therefore there is no downtime shipping them back and forth.
In summary, the price will always be a sensitive issue, but we should never associate a cost to better hearing. In countries that have full funding for hearing aids, their adoption rate is roughly the same as in Ontario. So is it cost or is it stigma? What matters is that Arnold Hearing Centres is there for you and we will work with you to make sure we figure out what’s best for you, your hearing, and your budget. Hearing aids need a personalized touch and we pride ourselves on being there for you every step of the way. Contact us today to speak to any of our experts on how we can improve your hearing health!