SPONSORED CONTENT: Hearing Aids- Bundled, Unbundled, Service Plans, Fee-For-Service...What does it all mean?

Dr. Indira Alvarez, clinical director and owner of Palm Coast Hearing Center, explains.

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  • | 2:30 p.m. October 19, 2022
  • Palm Coast Observer
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One of the questions I hear often in my practice is why do hearing aids cost so much? One reason is that a substantial portion of that cost is the service related to your hearing aids, not just the devices themselves. Today we will be learning about the pricing models used to determine the costs of aids so you can be prepared. 

In the past, the process of getting hearing aids was pretty easy- find a local audiologist, have an exam, and receive prescription hearing aids that were serviced and adjusted by your provider. Customarily, you paid one price up front for everything- the professional fitting, calibration, counseling and orientation, the hearing aids, the warranty, insurance for loss, future adjustments and recalibrations if needed, and routine service. You were paying for the time and expertise of the professional, as well as the hearing aids themselves. That one price covered all your visits, for a certain amount of time, usually three years, whether you had one visit or 30 visits in that time frame. There was little transparency and most patients didn’t know exactly what they were paying for.

At Palm Coast and Ormond Hearing Center, our pricing policies are flexible, affordable and a-la-carte so that every patient can get what they need, whether you get your hearing aids from us, or somewhere else. 

Our practice is “unbundled”- we have one price for the hearing aids, another for the fitting and calibration of the devices, and offer an optional service plan for the services that are provided after the fitting. If you opt not to purchase a service plan, you will pay for services as you need them when you come in (i.e., fee-for-service). This model is the same model used by physicians and other medical providers like dentists and podiatrists. If you go to the dentist and you need a bridge, you will be paying for the appliance and you will be paying for the dentist to examine and fit the bridge- they are separate costs on the treatment plan. 

Unbundling allows the costs of hearing care and hearing aids to be lower for many patients. In my practice, I remember how the bundled model meant that some patients were paying for services they didn’t need, and some patients received many more services but both were paying the same amount. With our commitment to transparency and desire to help as many patients as possible, we offer truly customized care- where you choose the level of technology and the service option that is right for you. Many places will offer “free service” with your purchase, but it isn’t actually free- you paid at the time of your purchase, which is why their costs were so high, especially for premium technology. 

Should I Get A Service Plan? 

That depends! When a patient comes into my office and needs hearing aids as part of their treatment plan, we discuss the services that are routinely necessary for the proper fitting and upkeep of their devices. Some of the services that you may need after the fitting are routine clean and checks, help pairing your devices to your phone and learning how to use the wireless features; and adjustments and programming. Visit fees can range from about $45 for routine cleaning with a technician to several hundred dollars if you need adjusting and reprogramming, services that can only be provided by the doctor. If you have a service plan, you will have paid upfront for services and will not have any co-pays or fees due when you come in- you paid ahead of time. I work with my patients to determine how much support they may need after their fitting. If you are younger and healthy, have normal processing ability and good manual dexterity so you can properly clean your devices at home, I probably won’t advise you to get a service plan. Chances are you will not need much more than quarterly cleanings so your out-of-pocket costs will be very low even without a service plan. On the other hand, if you have chronic health problems, speech processing issues, or poor dexterity due to poor vision or neuropathy, then a service plan will save you money- you will probably need more support and adjustments and will be coming in more often for help. 

One of the biggest advantages of this model is that we can offer care tailored exactly to your needs, whether you got your hearing aids from us or somewhere else. You know what you are paying and why - there are no hidden fees. 

At Palm Coast & Ormond Hearing Center, our mission is to not only provide the best quality hearing care possible, but also to educate the community and help all patients make informed decisions so they can get the care they need and deserve. Want to learn more about hearing health? Visit our website at palmcoasthearingcenter.com and click the “About” button, then “Helpful Articles”. You can also schedule an appointment online. We also have a second location to serve you in Ormond Beach at ormondhearingcenter.com.


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