Myth 1: Hearing aids have a large mark up:
True: Most hearing aids are sold with a large mark up: Traditionally the costs of servicing hearing aids are “bundled" in with the purchase price of the hearing aids, which are already expensive.
Patients are buying services that they don't need, want, or use. They are not given a choice.
Cost is the number one reason for not getting hearing help. Bundling greatly increases the cost of the hearing aids, making it more difficult for people to buy them. If more people bought hearing aids, they would be able to spread the costs out more, and hearing aids could cost less. Unfortunately, the traditional large mark up increases the cost. This leads to fewer people buying and therefore more expensive hearing aids.
Bundle pricing puts the pricing emphasis on selling new hearing aids, not on working with existing hearing aids.
The charges for these services are hidden.
Our Solution: Transparency through unbundling: We don't bundle our services into the cost of the hearing aids. This has the following benefits:
We work with most insurances. Most insurances won't cover hearing aids. Because we are unbundled, we can bill your insurance what they will cover, saving you money. For example, with a physician's referral we are able to bill diagnostic testing to your insurance.
Only pay for services you need, as you need them. This means that our service charges need to be reasonable and that our services need to be worth the cost.
Our typical patient will save $1000 to $3,000 for the same hearing aids.
Myth 2: You're seen by a “Hearing Doctor.”
Mostly False: Of the 10 businesses in Idaho Falls, only 2 are fully staffed with Doctors of Audiology as their providers.
How to tell who you are working with
Audiologists or Au.D. Audiology is a doctorate level profession and to become an audiologist you must now earn an Audiology doctorate or a Ph.D. in Audiology.
Hearing Instrument Specialist or H.I.S. Idaho requires Hearing Instrument Specialists to have a GED or high school diploma, be 21 years of age and pass a state exam.
Audioprosthologist H.I.S. A Hearing Instrument Specialist may take 5 classes, the equivalent of 15 credit hours, through a weekend course study to earn the advanced H.I.S. designation of Audioprothothologist.
Many patients believe they are working with a “hearing doctor” who is supposed to have an unbiased opinion, when in fact they are in a sales environment where the provider is most commonly paid on some type of commission structure. A commission structure is typical for most Hearing Instrument Specialists and is fairly common for most Audiologists.
Our provider is, Dr. Kalob Parsons Au.D. an Audiologist.
Dr. Kalob's undergraduate study was in engineering and biology.
He earned the title of Audiologist after completing a 3 year Masters program at Idaho State, a 1 year clinical fellowship year (similar to a residency), and passing a national certification exam.
Dr. Kalob earned his Doctorate in Audiology after completing a 4 year program from Salus University.
We have set a much smaller standard mark up on our hearing aids to minimize any biases, other than what is best for the patient. Our unbundled pricing structure reflects our dedication to service vs. the selling of hearing aids.
We do not work on commission.
3: Life expectancy of a hearing aid is 3 years.
False: National annual surveys constantly report that a patient will typically keep an in-the-ear hearing aid 5 years and a behind-the-ear hearing aid 7 years.
Most practices make more money by having you buy more frequently vs. continuing to give you the Free service you pre-paid for 5+ years. Therefore, most hearing aid sales consultants recommend perpetuating the myth of 3 years average life, so that patients will buy more frequently.
A small mark up on hearing aids and allowing patients to pay for services as they need them. Because we bill for our services we have minimized the temptation to push new hearing aids. Our business structure does not penalize us for helping your existing hearing aids work as best as they can for you for as long as you want them to. We are happy to work with old, donated or used hearing aids. It is an honor to be selected as a service provider for our Veterans in their hearing programs and in other programs that provide hearing aids to their members.
In-house repair. We repair hearing aids in-house as often as possible to keep the costs down and the time you are without your hearing aids to a minimum. By keeping the cost of repairs down, patients are more likely to keep their hearing aids longer.
Myth 4: FREE Hearing Tests.
False: Although the test may be free if you don't buy anything, the practice has to pass on the cost to someone. In this case it is to whoever buys hearing aids from them.
Most insurances will cover diagnostic hearing tests, but refuse to pay for something that is routinely given as free by that practice. Medicare is even more strict, and violations are penalized with heavy fines.
This means that the most hearing aid patients are double hit from their FREE hearing test. Not only is the practice recouping the free test in the mark up of the hearing aids, but the patient most likely could have had the test paid for through their insurance that they have been paying for.
Diagnostic vs. testing to fit hearing aids. A diagnostic hearing test includes all the tests required by Idaho to sell a hearing aid. A diagnostic hearing test also is typically much more thorough, usually administered differently, and requires specialized equipment. The purposes of a diagnostic test are to find out what parts of the ear are working, not working, possible causes of loss, stability of hearing, and what is the best course of action for the patient.
We are in-network providers for most insurances, including Medicare. We work with your physician and your insurance in order to minimize your out of pocket costs. We invest in training and equipment to provide our patients with the best possible care. We provide you and your physician with the most accurate information so that you can make an informed choice in your health care needs.
Myth 5: All Hearing Aids are created equally.
False: Most hearing aids manufactures buy basic components, such as speakers and microphones, from a few suppliers. The capabilities of the hearing aids still differ greatly, especially when it comes to noise reduction strategies.
Example 1. Same hearing aid, but locked. We will take the heavily advertised Miracle Ear, which sells a private labeled Siemens hearing aid. Their hearing aids are locked so that only a Miracle Ear dealer can adjust them, but an unlocked Siemens hearing aid can be adjusted by any hearing aid professional if they request the software from Siemens. Locking is becoming a more common practice with Costco, Audigy, Belltone, and Nu-Ear as popular examples of both locking a hearing aid and private labeling.
Example 2. Big box hearing aids vs. clinic hearing aids. The most common example of this is Costco. The current Kirkland brand is powered by Resound. Resound has 5 levels of technology available to the typical clinic. We were told by manufacture sources that the high end Kirkland brand is most similar to the 2nd lowest level of technology and the previous chip. It is hard to confirm this since these hearing aids are locked.
Patients with locked hearing aids commonly don't know that they are locked until it is to late. One of the reasons for private labeling is so that it makes it difficult for patients to comparison shop. This makes it difficult for patients to know what they are actually buying, leading them to make many false assumptions. Such as how good of a deal they are really getting and not knowing that they could have got a similar product for a similar price if they had only had the correct information.
Transparency, and Passion: Improving hearing and the many improvements it brings to our patients lives is more than a job to us, it is a life mission. We work with all the major manufacturers and all of our hearing aids are unlocked. It is important that you find a professional that you can trust and believe and enjoys what they do. Someone who is not in it for the money. We love what we do, and hope you will feel that when you visit our office.
Idaho Falls has a number of good providers and though we strive and work hard to be a Better Hearing provider than we were the day before. No provider is perfect and we would like to say something about the business we used in our examples.
Costco: If you choose to work with the Costco, work with Sherry. The Pocatello Costco is very lucky to have her. She will do her best to take good care of you. Most Costcos, in my experience, do not have an audiologist let alone one of her caliber.
Miracle Ear. We have a lot of respect for Jim Williams, the new owner of the Idaho Falls Miracle ear. I have heard many positive compliments about him from the patients we have shared.
Find a hearing care provider you can trust and are comfortable with.
Get a thorough hearing test by a provider who works with your insurance. If you choose to get additional quotes, get a copy of your exam.
Have a basic understanding so that you can use wisdom in your decision making, but make the decision. Be proactive in your hearing health. Research shows more and more medical, social and quality of life benefits to getting hearing help sooner than later.