Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200 #00047

Submission Number:
P E. Hedden
West Virginia
Initiative Name:
Hearing Health and Technology -- Workshop, Project No. P171200
I have worn hearing aids for 30 years. When my mother was in her late eighties, she asked me to take her for a free hearing test she saw in an ad. When I looked at her audiogram, I saw that it looked almost exactly like mine. But she said she wouldn't buy hearing aids because "they cost too much and I might be dead next year." I work with seniors and they all say exactly the same thing. The average retail price for a hearing aid runs from $3,000 to $6,000. Data unearthed by a German regulator (PDF) studying the major manufacturers showed it costs about $250 to make a device, is sold to an audiologist for $1,000 and the audiologist marks up the price $2,000. Result- $3,000 per aid. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-06-06/why-do-hearing-aids-c.... I appreciate that audiologists paid a lot for their education and will fight to preserve their monopoly. But I am a lawyer who was laid off at the start of the '08 recession and never found legal work again. I went back to school. Disruption is occurring in every quarter of our world, replacing existing technology with new innovative products and processes. This has happened before. Move on. Personally, I was so totally dissatisfied with hearing aids and my lack of control that I wore a mismatched pair until the technology caught up. For the past two years I've been wearing Sound World Solutions aids and I've never been happier. They have put control in my hands. I adjust in real time to changes in my sound environment either on the aids or via a smartphone app. And two aids was less than $1000. I could not be happier. Audiologists say they are needed to "protect" the hearing impaired by ensuring the right aid is prescribed. But when so many are in need, and will not pay the price or cannot pay the price, that is not protecting anyone but themselves. Competition from new technology companies like Sound World Solutions provides competition to lower prices, and provides another avenue of choice greatly needed by those who will not, for whatever reason, pay the price charged by audiologists.