“I think it’s inevitable that the upward trend line will start to normalize and get flatter. The current market forces in play are going to begin dropping that trend line closer to CPI…albeit not nearly as much as the average consumer would like it to be…” (Comment from Anonymous on the 2013 Price series)

Inevitable is a strong word, but Anonymous seems to have called it right, at least on average and at least for some categorical measures of hearing aid Price.  Today’s post is the promised supporting documentation for how we arrived at average Price estimates for retail and wholesale.  Just because we have sources does not mean that the estimates are right, and certainly they are not “right” for any individual consumer or practitioner.  The numbers are, after all, estimates and averages, comprised by a range of values from a variety of sources.  Those consuming at the wholesale or retail level must still do their due diligence as Price Searchers.  We hope our efforts are helpful to their individual endeavors and their success as wearers or providers of hearing instruments.

We wish to thank those in the industry who contributed information and review of the data.  Their efforts to improve Price transparency in hearing aid healthcare enable informed discussion of bundling, unbundling, defensible pricing, and consumer preferences.  Those topics will be pursued in future posts in this series with an eye toward developing data-driven pricing explanations and recommendations which remain autonomous within the industry but are also understandable and acceptable to consumers and social policy makers.

 

Numbers and Sources

 

RETAIL: Retail figures in the 2016 Pricing series are derived from the nominal current values contained in Table 1 for Average (all aids), Premium, and Economy categories of instruments.  Each value is footnoted to explain origins, derivations, and assumptions.  Although the current analyses and figures start with year 2004, we’ve provided updated links to previous years because some links in the 2013 series are no longer active.  

WHOLESALE: All wholesale figures in the 2016 Pricing series are derived from the nominal currency values contained in Table 2 for the same category columns as Table 1. Data are from two confidential sources:

  • an anonymous source in the industry that provided weighted averages from three of the Big 6 manufacturers, starting in 2012;
  • a national buying group, which served as the sole source of wholesale values in the 2013 Price series,   and once again provided data from four of the Big 6 manufacturers for this series.

Readers are encouraged to contribute better numbers, more numbers, and corrections. (Editor’s note:  Since the series began in May 2016, some additions and corrections have already made their way into the data and edits of earlier posts).  

 

Table 1. Retail US hearing aid Price by year.  All aids (Average), Premium, Economy categories.  US$, nominal values.

Year Average (all aids) Premium Instruments Economy Instruments
2000  1480[1]    
  1483[2]    
  1695[3]    
  1728[4]    
  1835[5] 2612[6] 1189[7]
2005 1878[8] 2660[9] 1276[10]
  1912[11] 2605[12] 1230[13]
   1986[14] 2714[15] 1269[16]
  1953[17] 2751[18] 1278[19]
   1914[20] 2854[21] 1292[22]
2010 2143[23]    
  2194[24]    
  2390[25] 2752[26] 1666[27]
  2367[28] 2838[29] 1654[30]
  2347[31] 2796[32] 1636[33]
2015 2347[34] 2906[35] 1559[36]

[1] Strom KE.  The HR 2002 dispenser surveyHearing Review. 2002; 9(6):14-32. (text just below Fig 14).

[2] Average of data in Strom (2002) op. cit. and Kirkwood D. Survey: Dispensers fitted more hearing aids in 2005 at higher prices. Hear Jour. 2006:59(4): 40. (Fig 5).

[3] Average of data from Strom KE.  The HR 2003 dispenser survey. Hearing Review. 2003; 10( ):    . (paragraph below Fig 26); and Kirkwood (2006) op. cit.

[4]Strom KE. The 2004 dispenser survey. Hearing Review. 2004; 11(6):14-32, 58, 59. (3rd paragraph above Fig 18); and Kirkwood (2006) op. cit.

[5]Strom K.  The HR 2006 dispenser surveyHearing Review. 2006;13(6) 16-39. (Fig 29) ;  Kirkwood (2006) op. cit.

[6] Strom (2006) op. cit. (Fig 28, average Premium DSP across 4 aid styles)

[7] Strom (2006) op. cit. (Fig 28).

[8] Strom (2006) op. cit.; Kirkwood (2006) op. cit.; and Johnson E.  Despite having more advanced features, hearing aids hold line on retail priceHear Jour. 2008:61(4): 42, 44,46,48.

[9] Strom (2006) op. cit. (Fig 28, average Premium DSP across 4 aid styles)

[10] Strom (2006) op. cit. (Fig 28).

[11] Johnson (2008) op cit.

[12] Johnson (2008) op cit. (Fig. 3)

[13] Johnson (2008) op cit. (Fig. 3)

[14]Johnson (2008) op cit.

[15] Johnson (2008) op. cit. (Fig. 3)

[16] Johnson (2008) op cit. (Fig. 3)

[17] Hearing Review and Hearing Journal did not perform surveys this year.  Value estimated from Marketrak data, multiplied by 1.22% to adjust for discounts, 3rd party, and VA

[18] Kirkwood (2010) op. cit. (Fig. 9, average Premium across 5 aid styles)

[19] Kirkwood (2010) op. cit. (Fig. 9, average Economy across 5 aid styles)

[20] Phonak Marketing.  2011 survey of US dispensing practice metrics, part 1. Hearing Review. 2012;19(8):16-23. median data; Kirkwood D. Survey probes dispensers’ views on key issues raised by Consumer Reports.  Hear Jour. 2010:63(5):17-18, 20-22,24,26. Fig 8.

[21] Kirkwood (2010) op. cit. (Fig. 9, average Premium across 5 aid styles)

[22] Kirkwood (2010) op. cit. (Fig. 9, average Economy across 5 aid styles)

[23] Phonak Marketing (2012) op. cit.

[24] Strom K.  HR 2013 hearing aid dispenser survey: Dispensing in the age of Internet and big box retailersHearing Review. 2014;21(4):22-28. (Table 2).

[25] Confidential industry source (weighted averages from three of the Big 6 manufacturers)

[26] Confidential industry source, op. cit. 

[27] Confidential industry source, op. cit. 

[28] Confidential industry source, op. cit.;  Strom (2014) op cit. (Table 2).   

[29] Confidential industry source, op. cit.;  Strom (2014) op cit. (Table 2).

[30] Confidential industry source, op. cit.;  Strom (2014) op cit. (Table 2).

[31] Confidential industry source, op. cit. 

[32] Confidential industry source, op. cit. 

[33] Confidential industry source, op. cit. 

[34] Confidential industry source, op. cit.; Strom K. private communication.

[35] Confidential industry source, op. cit. ;  Strom K. private communication

[36] Confidential industry source, op. cit. ;  Strom K. private communication

 

Table 2. Wholesale US hearing aid Price by year.  All aids (Average), Premium, Economy categories.  US$, nominal values.

Year Average Premium Economy
  457 1259 280
2005 473 1259 299
  494 1199 253
  533 1290 254
  561 1388 298
  611 1415 288
2010 573 1438 259
  616 1375 322
  694 1167 428
  700 1192 432
  681 1180 453
2015 677 1150 451

 

This is Part 5 of the 2016 Hearing Aid Price Series update.  Click here for Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

Amyn Amlani, PhD

Amyn Amlani, PhD

 Co-editor Amyn M. AmlaniPh.D., is Professor and Chair of the consortium program in Audiology & Speech Pathology between the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dr. Amlani holds the B.A. degree in Communication Disorders from the University of the Pacific, the M.S. degree in Audiology from Purdue University, and the Ph.D. degree in Audiology/Psychoacoustics (minor in Marketing and Supply Chain Management) from Michigan State University. His research interests include the influence of hearing aid technology on speech and music; economic and marketing trends within the hearing aid industry; and playing bass guitar in various heavy metal cover bands. Email:AMAmlani@uams.edu