Retail pricing can vary from office to office but in general you may find the up-front cost for rechargeable systems slightly higher than non-rechargeable systems. However, over the lifespan of the products there should be a net savings. I've found that as technology improves, patients use their hearing aids longer: about 5-7 years for in-the-ear models and 7-10 years for behind-the-ear models. Throughout this time, you'll likely spend about $700 on average for batteries (plus or minus). The cost for rechargeable systems, at least at my practice, is approximately $200 - $450 over the cost of the hearing aids. So after about half the lifespan of the hearing aids you're breaking even, and after that is when you will likely realize the savings.
The true benefit of rechargeable systems, however, is for users with manual dexterity problems. Rechargeable systems are just easier for them to use so that they don't have to manipulate small batteries to replace.
And, of course, rechargeable systems are better for the environment.
In most cases, yes, though I agree with Dr. Gostomelsky that if you account for the expense of disposable batteries over the course of 3 years or so, overall cost will be about the same.
The one caveat I would highlight for end users is if you get a sealed system from Phonak, Resound, or Signia, when the battery no longer powers the hearing aid for a whole day, that will be handled as a repair. If your warranty has expired, this repair may cost in the range of $200 to $350 for each hearing aid, and you may be without your hearing aids for a week or so while they are sent back to the manufacturer for that repair. I suggest all users have their batteries proactively replaced just prior to the warranty expiring to avoid such an expense.
The Oticon OPN S rechargeable system has the inherent advantage that the Lithium Ion cell is replaceable by the audiologist in the office with the appropriate tool. Oticon hasn't announced prices on replacement cells, but my guess is they will cost the end user in the range of $50 each.
The Z-power system is a different animal, and I'm sure it is discussed extensively in other threads.
It actually depends on the manufacturer/model of hearing aids. There are more rechargeable options out there now than ever before so prices are competitive and pretty similar everywhere. And you will notice that the prices are actually only different by a few hundred dollars between the classic hearing aids that use disposable batteries and rechargeable hearing aids. For example, Sonic is one of the manufacturers that we use, they have a line of hearing aids that can be converted into rechargeable hearing aids, all you have to do is pay the additional $250 for the charger. So you're essentially only paying for the charger, but the cost of the pair of hearing aids is exactly the same amount. Then we use Oticon, whose new OPN S line now has the lithium-ion rechargeable option, the charger comes with the hearing aids. The equivalent model without the charger is about $300-400 less. So all in all, you're technically just paying that difference for the charger.
Now, also, keep in mind, these rechargeable hearing aids have batteries inside that are either zinc batteries or lithium-ion batteries and they also have a shelf life. For instance, zinc batteries last about a year to two years, and if the charger stops charging them, they need to be replaced and the price for the rechargeable batteries ranges anywhere from $25-45 per battery (Price varies for different manufacturers/companies)
The lithium-ion batteries can last 2-3 years, so you're replacing them less frequently. Now, all hearing aids come with a manufacturer's warranty, again depending on the make and model, some warranties are only valid for 1 year while other warranties are 2-4 years, and all of this depends on the manufacturer, your contract, and the place where you purchased them. If you are still under warranty and for some reason your batteries stopped charging, most of the time, this warranty will replace it for you at no cost, in that case, we send the hearing aids out to the manufacturer, they check your hearing aids and replace the batteries and send it right back to you. If you're no longer in warranty, the provider may charge you the additional charge for replacement batteries, while others charge a repair fee.
And lastly, just like any mechanical accessories, chargers also have warranties on them but that is also dependent on the make and model, some chargers have a 1 year warranty, others have up to 3 years warranty. So, if your charger suddenly stops working and you are no longer in warranty, you're going to have to buy a new charger which varies in price ($200 to $400). All of these are great questions to ask the provider where you are buying the hearing aids, prices vary depending on the company, make and model of hearing aids and your contract. These prices are not exact, as I know other companies charge more, and some others charge less. Every practice is different so it doesn't hurt to call around and ask. The rechargeable options have been so helpful for patients that have trouble with vision, dexterity, or struggle with the small batteries so they are most definitely worth it! Hope this helps!