We probably get this call about once a month if I were to guess. “Hi, I want to know your pricing on this model hearing aid? No, I don’t want an appointment, I really just want to know how much it costs.” Then it becomes obvious that the person on the other like does not want a consultation appointment, it’s either give out the price or they hang up.
I’ve practiced in 4 states and worked at several different kinds of settings. At every place I’ve worked, this question comes up. I’ve heard various responses to this question from front office personnel and I have heard various responses to this question from hearing health providers. And do I ever get it. The last thing I want when I go to a doctor or related healthcare professional office is to be surprised by big bills I cannot afford. I do not want to be surprised that someone is out of network. I do not want to go somewhere and get the same service for a much higher cost when I can go somewhere else that I get good customer service at a much lower cost. I do not want to fall victim to it!
Here’s the thing. I can quote everyone on the phone a range of costs from $2500-6500 for a pair of hearing aids. That’s easy. I can even ask my front office staff to say that. But, without seeing a hearing test and actually paying attention to the healthcare aspect of the transaction, I really do not feel comfortable telling someone that the Phonak Paradise or the Resound Quattro or the Oticon Opn S costs ___ over the phone. Why not? So many reasons!
One: Well, the person on the other line mostly asks about the make, but not the specific model. I had someone ask me about the Phonak Marvel or Phonak Paradise device on the phone. Thing is, there are 5 different technology levels. Phonak Audeo Marvel 30-RT is different than a Phonak Audeo Paradise 90.
Two: Hearing healthcare is healthcare. We price our hearing aids not only by the cost of the device, but also how much service warranty an individual patient requires. Persons who are new to hearing aids often benefit from an inclusive service warranty that is paid for upfront with the hearing aids. Patients who have worn hearing aids for a long time may benefit from saving money on the service warranty since they do not need as much professional support.
Three: The law is kind of funny about pricing. We have thought about posting our prices on our website because I am a fan of fair transparency. On the other hand, that can be considered by some entities as price fixing and we could get in trouble as a business. Considering my risk-averse personality, I honestly don’t feel comfortable giving out specific prices not attached to an actual appointment because what if it is an auditor of some kind? That may seem silly and overly cautious, but I have been known to be overly cautious.
Four: What if the model hearing aid you are interested in is not one I am as familiar with, or my professional judgement and experience is that that particular device is not good for a scenario in which you are expecting benefit? What if after I get to know you using our patient-centered, evidence-based model and I know of something else that would help you tremendously that you might not know about? For example, some hearing aids now have fall detection. Some hearing aids can connect to Zoom calls. Some hearing aids can process background noise in between speech syllables in all directions. Some hearing aids have a steep learning curve to learn all the features, and others are simpler. Some hearing aid apps are quite easy to use regardless of your prowess with technology and others have seemingly endless adjustments you can control.
At the end of the day, my interest is getting every one of my patients their best hearing, because they all deserve to hear their best whatever that may be. As much as I understand wanting transparency in pricing in healthcare, I cannot cheapen the process by giving out prices over the phone when my goal is to provide the best outcome possible and have the happiest patients possible. The market is confusing, and our healthcare system needs work. At our clinic, I choose to put the patient’s hearing health as the focus and go from there. I am happy to have a free consult with new patients at no charge to figure out if we are a good fit and the best way forward.