What if You Could Lease Your Hearing Aids Instead?

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What would it be like to lease hearing aids, instead of buying them? Topping up at $6000 a pair, hearing aids are often the third largest purchase a person with hearing loss makes in their lifetime, after only a house and a car. In the case of a car or a house, rental options are plentiful. Can’t afford to buy a house? Rent an apartment instead. Don’t want to purchase a car? Leasing options are available, often at quite attractive rates. According to Edmunds, auto lease penetration in the United States hit 32.2% in May 2019. This was a new record since reporting began in 2002.

What if we could do the same with our hearing aids?

Would You Prefer to Lease Your Hearing Aids?

The growing popularity of auto leasing makes sense to me. You get the benefits of ownership without putting all the money down. You enjoy the use of the car while you pay over time. Leases also often include regular maintenance and if something breaks or goes wrong, repairs are usually covered too. For time consuming repairs, a replacement car may be provided. After a few years, your lease ends and you are free to swap into a newer model with all the latest bells, whistles, and safety features. Or you can choose a different brand of car altogether. You have ultimate flexibility.

What if you could do this with hearing aids? Yes, hearing aids are different from cars and houses for many reasons, but as the hearing aid industry evolves and new entrants emerge, leasing may be worth considering. Below I examine some pros and challenges. Please add your thoughts in the comments.

Hearing aids are often custom fit.

Hearing aids are highly personal items, often custom-made to fit your specific ear — especially those worn in the ear canal. This could make them hard to repurpose for another user. Offsetting this, is the growing popularity of open-fit behind-the-ear models. Even when used with custom ear molds, the behind-the-ear devices are fairly standard and could likely be repurposed for another user quite easily.

Complexity may temper ease of upgrade.

Hearing aids are highly sophisticated devices, programmed to meet your specific hearing challenges. Things sound differently through each pair of hearing aids, so it often takes time and energy to get used to them. Swapping to a new pair every 2-3 years may not be desirable. Hearing loss can also change over time, making a different type or brand of device more appropriate. This would make the flexibility of a lease attractive, but it could also add complexity if the lease was tied to a particular manufacturer.

Industry structure would need updating.

Currently, a used hearing aid market does not exist, so what would happen to all the returned devices? Who would bear the cost? Audiologists? Hearing aid manufacturers? Given the high price of hearing aids, a used-device option — assuming the devices can be reprogrammed and updated with fresh molds — could be an exciting new market. Perhaps it would attract reluctant hearing aid users who shy away due to cost. Used hearing aids could also make attractive back-up or entry-level devices that could better compete on price with over-the-counter hearing aid options.

Alternative Hearing Aid Purchase Models Already Exist

While rare, a few alternative hearing aid purchase models do currently exist. For example, Phonak’s Lyric hearing aids are sold as a subscription, although the “rental” is paid annually and the cost often compares to buying a new device. Audicus, an online hearing aid company, offers a “membership model” option. Users pay a nominal monthly fee which entitles them to hearing aids, batteries, insurance and the ability to upgrade to new devices every 18 months. I have no knowledge about the quality of the Audicus devices or the company’s service, but the selling model itself is intriguing. Another new entrant, Whisper, recently launched a subscription model product that includes ongoing care from a local audiologist, regular software upgrades and a 3-year warranty. Perhaps there are other examples as well.

Covid-19 has transformed many aspects of audiological care. Over-the-counter and Hearables devices are likely to bring additional changes. Some audiologists also already offer financing options for purchased hearing aids. With all the innovation afoot, could it be time for the industry to consider a leasing model option as well?

Readers, would you consider leasing your hearing aids instead of purchasing them?

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18 thoughts on “What if You Could Lease Your Hearing Aids Instead?”

  1. joeysmom – 2010. The year my dream comes true. I will be starting culinary school to achieve a certification in baking/pasties. My life long goal is to start a bakery completely employed by at-risk teenagers.
    Sarah says:

    I would prefer my health insurance cover 100% hearing aids

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So true! That would be the best! Thanks for your comment.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Sad, but true! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Yikes! This is as bad an idea as having to lease software instead of simply owning it! I’m amazed at the number of people who lease cars, which means that they’ll need to pay every month forever. Instead, we buy a used car in good condition, usually with around 70,000 miles on it, and drive it for years (absolutely no monthly lease payments), until it becomes expensive to keep repaired. We live in a house that we’ve owned for decades…nothing but taxes and insurance to worry about, meaning that we are able to bank some of our retirement income almost every month. I hate debt, and paying monthly for anything is a form of debt, whether it’s paying to own it or lease it. Costco is one option for buying aids for about half the cost anywhere else, BTW.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for weighing in on the issue.

  3. Leasing phones happens all the time. As the technology changes, the lease can help those who want to upgrade. But I do see a problem with the second hand hearing aid market. A hearing aid is a medical device, and I just don’t see someone using someone else’s hearing aid. It is a question that I have had and I appreciate you asking it. We need to adapt to a changing environment. Thank you.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. How do they make dead hearing aid alive again. After five years they die. So cannot see how you could lease them. Lol. Maybe this is for all the fancy high end hearing aids, that do cost a lot of money. I have a basic modesl this has serve me well all my life, deaf since birth.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      The useful life of a hearing aid is another potential issue. Thanks for raising it.

  5. I’m with Sherman. Paying forever sounds awful, particularly since the figure i have seen is $200 a month. My aids have lasted 5 to 10 years, and with adjustments from the dealer, perhaps even longer. I want some time with them paid off. I can get so called Hearing Aid coverage from my HMO, but I have to use their vendor.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your perspective.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Lol! Thanks for your comment.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. 6000 is 100$/MN over 5 years(usual life of aids) How many people have prescription drugs costing that much? The cost of aids should be factored into provincial and federal support programs.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Insurance coverage is critical! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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