I recently read a book called Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. For the first time ever I understood why we are willing to pay $6000.00 for digital hearing aids, while we wouldn’t dream of paying more than $200.00 for an iPod that can do so much more and uses basically very similar technology. There is no reason hearing aids should be priced so high. They are made of nothing but small bits of plastic and wire. The digital technology and microchip that was state-of-the art in the 1990s is not new today, and yet the prices on hearing aids have still not come down.
In fact, nothing amazing has happened to hearing aids in over a decade unless you count blue tooth, and that’s not really new technology. It’s new on hearing aids, yeah, but it’s so not new. It was only a matter of time before someone stuck bluetooth technology in a hearing aid– a no-brainer really. You had small phones the size of a hearing aid. Why not actually stick the technology IN a hearing aid? It wasn’t developed for us.
Many things on hearing aids have become automatic, but not better. For example, most of us who have worn our hearing aids for years prefer controlling when our FM kicks in. If you have ever been to a convention with a room full of hard of hearing and deaf people, you don’t want your FM kicking in every time someone walks by with a Smartlink. Soooo annoying. I also prefer to have control over when my “speech in noise” program kicks in. I don’t like my aid muffling sounds for me. Sorry.
I am getting off the subject– my point being that there is not much new going on in hearing aids since the 1990s, so they should have come down in price by now, but they haven’t.
There is one area I forgot to mention here and that is the open fit aids. They ARE new and literally cool because you don’t have to wear ear molds. But if you have a severe hearing loss you can’t wear them, though many audiologists will try to sell you a pair, knowing you’ll be back in a couple years needing more power. Even though open fit aids are not power aids and often do not have FM, they cost about the same as a power aid with more on it. So basically you’re paying MORE for LESS!
Back in the 1990s, when digital hearing aids were the new thing, hearing aid companies believed we would pay nearly twice what we would pay for analogs, so they upped the market price to $6,000.00 for a pair of state-of-the-art power aids. If you balked you were given some rhetoric about how hearing aid wearers were a niche group and that the technology was developed specifically for us, and that we had to pay for it somehow, and how much was your hearing worth to you anyhow? Isn’t your life worth it? Now, over a decade later we are STILL paying that same price.
But hearing aids haven’t improved much. We have been trained to expect to pay $6000.00 for a pair of state-of-the-art digital hearing aids. And pay we will. Because we have no choice if we want to hear. Or do we?
Do we really need automatic everything? Do we need bluetooth? What would happen if we all shopped around a bit? And demanded less? What I mean by that is what if we were to start demanding no frills aids, no automatic anything with lots of power and FM for a good price?
Just say no. They won’t get the message if we keep spending.