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Sun Oct 28, 2012, 03:45 AM

Costco hearing aids

The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/the-hunt-for-an-affordable-hearing-aid/?pagewanted=print

Why have hearing aids become more expensive, while cellphones, computers and televisions have gotten cheaper? Russ Apfel, an engineer who designed a technology now found in all hearing aids, says there is no good reason for this.

"The hearing aid industry uses every new thing, like digital or a new algorithm, to raise prices," said Mr. Apfel, whose company, Audiotoniq, aims to sell sophisticated but affordable devices. "The semiconductor industry traditionally reduces the cost of products by 10 to 15 percent a year," he said, but "hearing aids go up 8 percent a year annually" and have for the last 20 years.

The microphones, speakers and processing chips aren't that expensive. "Those devices in small volumes cost $10 to $15," Mr. Apfel said. He estimated that most hearing aids cost no more than $100 to make.

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The chain started selling hearing aids in 1993, and now has 438 hearing aid centers. At Costco, a basic in-the-ear shell hearing aid costs $500, with the most advanced behind-the-ear models going for $1,300.

And unlike the Internet retailers, Costco offers face-to-face service with hearing aid dispensers and audiologists for custom fittings.

Costco's prices are less than half than the industry standard, despite the fact that its hearing aids are produced by the same major companies, including Rexton (a brand made by Siemens) and GN ReSound. Its in-house brand of aids, Kirkland Signature, is also built by Siemens. And unlike many private hearing aid dispensers, Costco employees don't work on commission.

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Reply Costco hearing aids (Original post)
eridani Oct 2012 OP
Fridays Child Oct 2012 #1
DavidDvorkin Oct 2012 #2

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sun Oct 28, 2012, 04:06 AM

1. I got mine at Costco, back in 2008.

It was the only place I could afford. Four years later and they still work just fine.

By the way, if I remember correctly, a Costco membership is not required for the purchase of hearing aids, drug prescriptions, or glasses.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sun Oct 28, 2012, 12:35 PM

2. I got my first pair from an audiologist

When those hearing aids broke down, I got my second pair from Costco, and I'm very satisfied with them.

The Costco pair was much cheaper, but still a lot more than $100 per ear. They weren't the in-house Kirkland brand.

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