UnitedHealth division introduces low-cost hearing aids, sold directly to consumers

David Kirkwood
October 5, 2011

This in-the-canal aid is part of the hi HealthInnovations product line.

MINNETONKA, MN–Hi HealthInnovations™, a Twin Cities company, has begun offering hearing aids ranging in retail price from $749 to $949.

The division of UnitedHealth Group said in an October 3 announcement that it will make its “suite of high-tech, lower cost hearing devices” available directly to consumers. It stated, “Similar hearing devices typically cost consumers thousands of dollars.”

Along with the hearing aids, hi HealthInnovations is also introducing a hearing test that consumers can take at home on their computer. Later, purchasers will be able to take the test using tablets, smart phones, and other mobile devices.

This is the second such introduction this year. Two weeks ago,
Audiotoniq presented MyWay™, a new digital hearing aid that will be sold directly to consumers. The Austin, TX-based high-tech company also offers a self-testing device that consumers can use at home. (For more, scroll down to the item posted September 20 in Hearing News Watch).

Both products seem sure to raise concern from hearing healthcare providers that in bypassing the licensed professional dispenser their method of distribution poses risks to consumers. One potential risk is that since those who purchase hearing aids directly from the company will not be professionally screened, any medical conditions that underline their hearing loss might go undiscovered.



In announcing the new product line, Lisa Tseng, MD, chief executive officer of hi HealthInnovations, said, “We are offering affordable and convenient solutions to help consumers improve their hearing and quality of life. Our goal is to put better hearing within reach of more Americans, including the 47 million with Medicare, which does not cover the significant cost of hearing devices.”

Hi HealthInnovations has contracted with several UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to make its new hearing aids available to plan members. For some plan members, there will be no out-of-pocket cost for the devices

UnitedHealth Group is a diversified health company headquartered in Minnetonka. It offers a broad spectrum of products and services through UnitedHealthcare, which provides healthcare coverage and benefits services, and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services.



The new line of hearing aids is being made for hi HealthInnovations by InTriCon Corporation. Based in Arden Hills, MN, InTriCon is a designer, developer, manufacturer and distributor of miniature and micro-miniature body-worn. The publicly held company, which is traded on the NASDAQ, was founded in 1977 and was formerly known as Resistance Technology, Inc.

Mark S. Gorder, president and CEO of InTriCon, said, “We’re thrilled to be chosen to work with hi HealthInnovations to deliver high-quality hearing aids at affordable prices to an expanded population.”

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  1. Oh my, this should be a fun ride. So what’s next to save costs? Will a patient just order their own knee replacement or their own artificial heart valves? Can we all just get a CT or MRI scan through our mobile device?

    I sincerely hope that licensed, educated and caring professionals can beat this!

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