In order to understand unbundled care, you first need to understand bundled care. First off — what is “bundled care”? Bundled care means that the cost for future appointments and services is “bundled” into the price of the hearing aid itself. In this scenario, patients don’t have to pay for future appointments to service those hearing aids.
“Unbundled” care means the opposite. When patients pay for hearing aids, they are just paying for hearing aids. They aren’t paying for additional appointments upfront. Instead, they will pay for appointments when they come in, the same way you would with a normal doctor’s office.
There are two major flaws to the bundled system which is unfair to both the providers and the consumers. The first is that bundled care assumes everyone will need the same amount of time and care. For example, if you only see your audiologist for one hour every year, you paid the same price as someone who sees the audiologist for one hour every month.
The other flaw in this market is free initial consultations. The initial consultation can typically take an hour of clinic time. It involves expensive medical equipment as well as the professional’s time. If the patient chooses to purchase hearing aids, then those costs are paid for. However, if the patient does not purchase hearing aids, then this cost would be passed on to other consumers. We believe this practice is unfair to the patients that do choose to treat their hearing loss. It also devalues the clinician’s time and expertise.
Our business philosophy is different than the traditional bundled system. We offer hearing aids with direct pricing and charge separately for services. That means every service is explained in detail and charged completely separately.
Rather than a free initial consult, we charge a fee for the initial consultation. It includes a comprehensive audiometric evaluation and a hearing aid consultation. We can use recent hearing test results from another clinic for a hearing aid consultation.
What are the some advantages of unbundled care?
1. Lower upfront costs.
Did you know only 20% of the population that could benefit from hearing aids actually pursue them? High upfront costs create a significant market barrier, especially for those with limited incomes. According to the Better Hearing Institute, untreated hearing loss can contribute to as much as $30,000 annually in lost income. This means those who are most affected by hearing loss are also negatively impacted by the cost barrier.
When you are not paying for bundled services upfront your cost savings are substantially significant.
2. High potential for long-term savings.
Hearing aids require care and maintenance. Traditionally, the hearing professional provides this care as part of the bundled cost of hearing aids. These services include cleanings to keep the hearing aids in good working order (function and proper fit).
As hearing aids have improved technologically, they have become easier to care for. Most patients are able to conduct simple cleanings and maintenance in their own home. Devices such as bluetooth, smart remote controls, and smartphone applications have made it easier than ever for the patient to have greater control over the settings of their hearing aids. This decreases the need for follow-up adjustments due to sound quality issues and typical progression of hearing loss.
Traditional bundled care packages are designed for regularly scheduled maintenance which may be unnecessary. It also contributes to inefficient use of clinic resources and results in lost personal or work time for the patient.
3. Choose your care.
If you choose unbundled care you are not locked into any obligation to service your hearing aids at our location. Some clinics sell branded hearing aids, which are privately locked to their company. This means that outside clinics will be unable to provide service or adjustments to those devices.
If you have friends or family that can help you care and maintain your hearing aids, you are free to use that resource instead of paying for it. If you move to another part of the country, you are able to take your hearing aids to a provider in that location and obtain services.
Merit Hearing only uses world-renowned hearing aid manufacturers, so there is no concern about finding someone to care for your hearing aids. There will also not be any concern on your end for paid services that will go unused.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.