Current Challenges In The Hearing Industry

ON AIR – The Barry Richard Show – Current Challenges In The Hearing Industry

11/22/2021 | Industry News, Local News, Patient Resources

Recently, I was interviewed on The Barry Richard Show about the importance of seeing an audiologist against the current challenges we’re facing in the industry today. I was happy to accept this offer because any time I get a chance to help out our great Massachusetts community, I jump at the chance.

We discuss how the current OTC market is changing the way hearing healthcare is valued, as well as question why so many people have yet to address their hearing concerns.

If you don’t want to listen to the recording, I have summarized the entire interview below. If you have any questions about anything hearing related, then please give us a call anytime.

What’s All The Fuss About OTCs?

Recently, the market has been flooded with over-the-counter devices, as Congress has allowed them to be sold by retailers and online outlets. The biggest problem with this is that they tell you that you don’t need a doctor to cure your hearing loss.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, and unfortunately, our government has endorsed this way of thinking.

OTCs can help some patients who are in the gray area of needing it but aren’t ready for all the features that prescribed hearing aids provide. Even in this case, the patient should still have a hearing test done to identify the problem.

If you have a blockage, then the OTC will be much less effective, and chances are you only need your ears cleaned to correct your issue.

Even if some of these OTCs offer hearing tests, they can sometimes be inaccurate since they are not being assessed by a trained professional.

If you have one of these devices already and are not getting what was promised to you, we can help. We encourage everyone to bring us their OTCs to see if we can adjust them so your money doesn’t go to waste.

Why Is Hearing Loss So Prevalent?

With 28 million Americans currently suffering from a hearing loss, only a tiny fraction of them seek help.

That leaves many people who either ignore their problem and live in agony every day or can’t admit that they let their hearing get this bad. In most cases, this is because of age. None of us want to grow old.

The reason this happens is that hearing loss can present itself very gradually. When this happens, it’s hard for the patient to identify precisely when their hearing got terrible.

It’s as if someone dims the lights in a room very slowly. At first, you won’t notice it, but as the room gets darker, you finally realize what has happened.

If this sounds like you or someone close to you, then arguing with them and demanding they get help is not the answer. The first step, no matter what, is to come in for a hearing test. From there, our training and experience can explain to them the pitfalls of not going through with treatment.

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Why Are People Resistant To See An Audiologist?

With OTCs advertising extremely low prices, all the pros of hearing aids get lost in translation.

OTCs use a very strategic marketing angle to sell their product. We have already explained how they try to convince you that you don’t need a doctor’s opinion. They also like to point out how inexpensive these OTCs are as well. However, just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

The biggest reason for the higher costs of hearing aids is aftercare. We want to make sure that your hearing aids are working for you. It’s not just a product but more of an investment in the future of your hearing.

Your hearing will change over time and sometimes may change quicker than you think. Something as trivial as the changing of the seasons can affect your hearing, and we want you to have easy access to make adjustments for all of these scenarios.

We also offer programs that just involve hearing aids as well. They are nothing short of modern marvels of technology, and at the end of the day, we just want you to be happy with your hearing.

Insurance Always Plays A Big Role In Healthcare

The most popular question I get is, “Does Medicare cover hearing aids?” The answer is “no.”

They don’t recognize hearing as a necessity to the general population. However, all federal employees have a hearing aid benefit of approximately $1,700.

You can add third-party administrator benefits and packages to your current program, but I highly suggest reading the fine print. These benefits won’t pay for your hearing aids and simply offer you a discount.

For this and many other reasons, we don’t deal with third-party administrators, as your hearing health is not their number one priority like it is with us.

It’s These Policies That Affect Our Elderly The Most

These policies and procedures are constantly changing as well, and never for the best. Just when you think you understand the system, they make another change that will indeed delay your treatment or raise your costs.

Companies make these changes not to improve your hearing health but to improve their bottom line.

For example, there is an insurance company that owns a hearing aid company. So, you buy insurance from them and add a third-party administrator benefit that gives you a discount on your hearing aids. But you must buy from their “approved” vendor, which they own. So they are double-dipping into your wallet.

AARP also works with insurance companies to increase their profits at the expense of your hearing.

Hearing Loss And Its Relation With Masks

We have been very busy since we were allowed to open our clinic to patients again. This is because most people don’t realize how much they rely on reading lips when communicating.

This is one of a few good things to come from the pandemic. We are happy to see people admitting they have an issue and are actively doing something about it.

Untreated hearing loss can cause more damage than just going deaf. There are many cognitive problems associated with severe hearing loss, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Tinnitus is also born from extended and untreated hearing loss. This condition causes the patient to hear a never-ending sound in their ears. This stems from the brain not hearing enough sounds to stay stimulated. When this happens, the brain creates a sound to keep itself busy.

You can take Medicare’s advice and deem hearing loss a non-necessity, but we strongly advise against that. We have seen the results of untreated hearing, and it never ends well.

Struggling On Where To Turn For Help?

Please give us a call if you have any questions regarding your hearing. Our comprehensive hearing assessments will provide us with all the proper and correct information needed to diagnose your problem.

The best part of my job is seeing patients’ eyes light up when they realize how much of life’s beautiful sounds they have been missing.

Prevention is still our best weapon against hearing loss.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Nancy Duncan, Au.D.

Dr. Nancy Duncan graduated from Somerset High, Somerset, MA in 1991 and received her B.S. in communication disorders and psychology from Worcester State College. Her master of science in audiology was awarded at the University of Arkansas in 1997, after which she worked for several private audiology practices in Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Returning to the area in 2003, Dr. Duncan founded Duncan Hearing Healthcare, allowing her to apply her passion to her community through rehabilitative audiology and individual patient care. She earned her clinical doctorate in audiology degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (now Salus University) in 2005. Her passion for her family and community is an integral part of what drives her to provide trustworthy, professional hearing healthcare to her patients.

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