I recently learned that the hearing aid industry is a monopoly. They sell for anywhere from 1,500 to 7,000 dollars with an average cost of about $4500. They only cost a tiny percentage of that to make- the rest is retail mark up and admin salaries for folks running what is known in the industry as the “Big 6” consortium. Those six giant companies are also in the process of attempting to acquire other auditory health companies leading to an even more powerful and unjust price fixing monopoly situation. The average hearing aid’s manufacturing cost is less than eight percent- the remaining 92% is “Research and Development” (so they say), retail mark up, and CEO and admin salaries.
I also learned that the insurance industry is loathe to cover hearing aids because so many people need them once they reach a certain age and the insurance companies say they can’t generate a profit. Only three states mandate that insurance companies provide some coverage for hearing aids but the amount is so little it doesn’t often make much difference. New Hampshire is the state with the highest paying amount and they require insurance companies to pay up to 1500 dollars every five years. Well, each hearing aid alone can cost four times that and my friend who works at a hearing aid center told me they break down or need to be replaced very frequently- every two or three years.
I know that hearing aids are sophisticated tiny computers now with fancy directional microphones, but there is no way hearing aids should be so costly as to be a financial burden or completely unattainable for so many Americans. Many military veterans who have bravely served our country cannot afford hearing aids. Many young and working age people are struggling to find a way to pay for hearing aids. Finally, our elderly are disproportionately suffering without access to hearing aids– Americans who’ve worked their whole lives, paid taxes, and been good, productive citizens are rewarded with unnecessary deafness all because these corporations have been allowed to get so greedy. That should be against the law, as monopolies once were.
I am hoping you can enact legislation that would bust the hearing aid monopoly, which would open the door to making all monopolies illegal. Then a federal mandate can be enacted requiring mandatory coverage of hearing aids by insurance companies, or preferably, just skip this last part and simply enact Medicare For All with mandated full hearing aid coverage.