Pros and Cons of Bundling vs. Unbundling — Which Pricing Model is Best?

Whether we realize it or not, almost every day we experience the concept of “bundled vs. unbundled” pricing.

Here’s an example. If you buy a car loaded with all the options that not only includes the cost of the vehicle, but also includes oil changes and tire rotations for the first 50,000 miles, that’s an example of bundled pricing. You might pay more, but you take comfort in knowing that routine maintenance is covered for the first couple of years you own your car.

Likewise, you might prefer to buy a bare bones model and be responsible for scheduling the maintenance yourself. You’d prefer to pay separately for each oil change and tire rotations as you need them. That’s an example of unbundling. You pay for services and supplies a la carte.

If you’re shopping for hearing aids, the concept is the same, and it’s something you should discuss with your audiologist. Some practices only sell hearing aids in a bundled pricing model, while others only sell them in an unbundled model, yet others use a hybrid pricing model to help patients meet their budget goals and preferences.

Related Read: True Cost of Hearing Loss

What Do Hearing Aid Bundles Include?

A practice that bundles its prices will quote you one price that includes the cost of the hearing aids you’re purchasing, as well as the fees for the audiologist’s professional services. These fees usually include each follow-up appointment needed to fine-tune your hearing aids. Plus, it may include an extended warranty for services, and any service or repairs needed for a specified period of time, as well as loaner hearing aids, if needed. For many people, knowing follow-up appointments and services related to their hearing aids are covered can be comforting. There aren’t any unexpected surprises.

What are the Benefits of Unbundling your Hearing Aids?

But if you’re the type of person who only wants to pay for services as you go, ask your audiologist about unbundling. In this pricing model, you’ll pay the fee for the hearing aids themselves. Other services are additional though—the dispensing fee, if you need to come back for follow-up adjustments, or if your hearing aids need service or repairs. If you only need one follow-up appointment with your audiologist, you may be money ahead to unbundle your hearing aids.

But be aware that many people require multiple appointments to adjust their hearing aids. Plus, if your hearing aids need a repair a few months later, you’ll have to pay separately for that. People who use minimal services may prefer this model, but if you need more services, have unexpected repairs, or changes in hearing, you may end up paying more than if you had purchased your hearing aids in a bundled model.

Associated Audiologists offers our patients a hybrid pricing model for your greatest value and satisfaction. We discuss your budget and lifestyle with you up front and ask which you would prefer. Our goal is really to help you hear better on a budget you’re comfortable with.

Entry-level hearing aids

At a professional practice such as Associated Audiologists, should run approximately $675 each.  Keep in mind that similar to other technology, these hearing aids have more limitations in their features, processing and satisfaction.  Entry-level technology that is well-programmed by a doctoral-level audiologist using real-ear verification can still offer you an improvement in your hearing, and may meet your basic needs especially in quiet situations. Hearing aids at this price point usually don’t include additional  appointments or repairs.

Mid-level hearing aids

With more sophisticated features, typically run $1,500 to $2100 each. These hearing aids can offer faster digital processing, and are programmable for the environments where you frequently have more problems hearing, like in restaurants or meetings. Other accessories, such as streamers, can help improve talking on the phone or listening to the television. These hearing aids may include some follow-up care and a limited warranty, but more extended services can be included.

Premium hearing aids

Offer the most advanced technology, and run approximately $2,200 to $2,800 each, or around $5,400 for a pair. These hearing aids may utilize built-in Bluetooth technology to stream phone calls and television programs directly to your hearing aids. Some feature applications that use machine learning or artificial intelligence, which learn the settings you prefer in specific environments, then automatically switch to those whenever you enter that location. Many of these hearing aids have features that are accessible when paired with a smartphone. These hearing aids are often bundled with follow-up care and service to allow full benefit and value from the features, especially as you continue to learn and acclimate over time. Patient satisfaction is highest with premium technology and extended services are often included to increase overall value and long-term benefit.

The audiologist you choose to work with should discuss your budget and goals, as well as provide you with a written estimate of their recommendations.

If you have health insurance other than Medicare, you may have hearing aid benefits. Ask if the practice you are seeing will investigate whether or not your particular plan has benefits or coverage.  They should help you understand and coordinate any possible benefits. Associated Audiologists provides this service and in many cases offers even better options than provided under your plan

How much are we talking about?

And finally, ask about financing options for individuals who qualify. Associated Audiologists offers CareCredit, as well as financing with Wells Fargo, plus accepts all major credit cards as payment. For those who do not have the financial resources to cover the cost of new hearing aids, ask about the possibility of purchasing a refurbished set of hearing aids. Bottom line, hearing aids come in a wide range of prices and styles for every budget and lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to discuss your budget concerns with your audiologist.

For more information on the True Cost of Hearing Loss, download our free e-book.

Or, schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist to determine the best hearing aid technology options for your budget and lifestyle.