Not everything is what it seems…

Have you seen ads like this?

“Hearing Aids for as low as $299 each” or “Buy two hearing aids for $995 (fine print: after any available grants, which could be $1,000 for two hearing aids. Fees for service extra)”

These ads are very enticing. They get people who need hearing aids thinking: “Finally there are low-cost hearing aids!”

The truth

The truth is that every single hearing aid clinic in Ontario has these products available. They are the lowest wholesale price published within the Ministry of Health’s regulated price catalogue.

The questions

The question is why haven’t you seen these prices advertised before if everyone in Ontario has them and they are not new to the industry? The answer is simply, that advertising the lowest wholesale cost is deceptive because that is only a part of the total price you pay when buying hearing aids. Hearing aid clinics are not a retailer, therefore, hearing aids are sold at wholesale cost plus fees for services. There are many types of fees, for example, hearing screening, programming digital hearing aids, impression for custom hearing aids, custom ear moulds and dispensing. As these fees are regulated, many hearing aid offices publish them for public viewing.

The question now becomes what is a realistic price to pay for hearing aids? It will not be $299 for one or $995 for two hearing aids; that is deceptive. As there are hundreds of hearing aids to choose from (depending on your hearing loss and your lifestyle) and service fees vary depending on the degree of customization the hearing aid requires, it is therefore impossible to advertise a price with any sort of certainty. You can verify this for yourself. Call the organization who is advertising these low prices and ask what you can expect to pay for hearing aids including all services. The answer will not be $299 for one or $995 for two.

Technology

As you are pondering this, there is another question to consider before buying hearing aids: “Will a low-cost hearing aid really help me?” The answer depends on your specific situation. You will not know the answer this question until all of the hearing screenings have been completed, your needs analyzed and you have chosen the style of hearing aid that you feel is right for you to wear. Only then will you know the cost and what the most appropriate hearing aid is for you. It could be one of the following:

  • the low-end technology $299 hearing aid (non-digital, 1980’s technology)
  • the mid range technology $1,600 hearing aid (good quality digital); or
  • the high-end technology $2,900 hearing aid (best quality digital)
  • ….or one of the hundreds in between these.

Fees for service are the same regardless (except for customization) of which hearing aid you need to help you to hear to the best of your ability.

In conclusion

Rather than believing these too good to be true hearing aid ads, I suggest you find someone you trust who is honest and has a solid reputation; someone who cares about your needs over their own. Let this trusted person conduct the all of the hearing tests needed (not just one or two) to truly understand if hearing aids are the best solution for your hearing situation; and if so, what is the best hearing aid technology to help you hear to the best of your ability.

After all hearing well is a part of being well.

In my next article, I will go into more details about services and their costs.

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