Do rechargeable hearing aids cost more than equivalent models that use traditional disposable batteries?

Christopher S. Frink, AuD

Audiologist

25 September 2019 - 58 Views

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.

Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Doctor of Audiology in Kailua

24 September 2019 - 85 Views

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.

Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Maggie Saladra, HIS

Hearing Instrument Specialist

24 September 2019 - 93 Views

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!

Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Sheri Gostomelsky, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

24 September 2019 - 105 Views

Rechargeable batteries are more expensive but get replaced less often.   When you take the cost of the charger into account, it's pretty much a wash over three years.
Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Joe Baker, MA

Audiologist

24 September 2019 - 113 Views

There is usually an additional charge for the rechargeable option. In most cases, the difference is $150 to $300 to cover the extra equipment (charger) and R&D to bring rechargeable hearing aids to market. For most people, unless they are on a tight budget for hearing aids, the convenience is well worth the difference in cost. For those with low vision or difficulty manipulating batteries and battery compartment doors, this option is invaluable.
Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Evan Grolley, AuD

Audiologist

25 September 2019 - 48 Views

We charge more for rechargeable hearing aids in our office, because our cost is higher from the manufacturer. The added cost accounts for the lithium ion batteries in modern rechargeable aids and the charging station. It used to be that the difference in price was pretty much equal to what you would be spending on disposable batteries anyway, since the rechargeable batteries were not lithium ion and would need to be replaced on a semi-regular basis. However, since the industry has shifted toward lithium ion batteries, many of which are built to last the lifetime of the hearing aids, you will typically spend less on rechargeable aids when you account for the purchase price of 5-6 years worth of disposable batteries.
Upvote Downvote Reply

Hearing Healthcare Provider in Portland

24 September 2019 - 82 Views

The cost difference is very small, if any, in most cases. It depends on the brand.
Upvote Downvote Reply

Discussion

Sarah C
Sarah C 24 September 2019

It depends both on the manufacturer and the practitioner. Some manufacturers charge extra, some even charge extra on top of that for the charger. I have one manufacturer who charges the same whether it's standard or rechargeable, so I don't charge my patients extra for that, but another manufacturer may still charge extra.

Find an audiologist you trust and see what they do. The expert behind the aids may be what will make or break your outcome, not the aids.

Chris Wahl
Chris Wahl 25 September 2019
It doesn’t cost more for premium or advanced hearing aids in my practice. We dispense lithium ion rechargeable hearing aids. It is easier for the new patient to learn the rechargeable solution and there are fewer batteries going into the landfills. Many over the counter devices have rechargeable batteries. But these devices are not adjusted to your hearing loss using prescriptive measures, so the benefit you receive from them is lower than you would realize by paying more for a much better rechargeable solution to your problems from a more reputable and reliable source.
Add a response

Related Questions