Patrick Freuler, CEO of Audicus started Audicus two years ago and has since saved people over $10 million on hearing aids. Patrick joins eHealth Radio and the Hearing Health and Health News Channels to tell us more about the hearing aid industry and why hearing aids are really so expensive.
Listen to interview with host Eric Michaels and guest Patrick Freuler discuss the following:
- Is hearing loss very common?
Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans. You most likely know someone close to you with hearing loss. With increased exposure to noise in the everyday environment, including the widespread use of ear buds to listen to music, people are developing hearing loss at younger ages. The big deal is that out of these 48 million people, only 25 percent actually have hearing aids. This is due to price and stigma. In our society, it’s acceptable to get glasses for poor eyesight, but much less acceptable to get hearing aids for hearing loss. When people finally admit they need hearing aids, they find out a pair at the audiology clinic costs $7,000, which most people simply cannot afford.
- Why are hearing aids so expensive?
This is one of the most common questions amongst our customers. Hearing aids are traditionally sold at an audiology clinic for $7,000 per pair and aren't covered by insurance. However, the cost to produce a pair of hearing aids is closer to $150! The reason for this price discrepancy is markups, which help audiologists cover their high overhead costs.
The hearing aid industry has not been disrupted until now, so hearing aid prices have continued to rise for decades, while prices of other electronic devices have lowered.
- Tell me about Audicus. Can people really buy hearing aids online?
100% yes, and we have many existing customers all over the United States and the world to vouch for it. It’s the same as purchasing prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses online, which has become widely accepted in recent years, since it’s more affordable. People email, upload or fax us their hearing test and we are able to recommend to them the best device. Our in-house audiologists customize the hearing aids, and we ship them to customers for a 45-day trial period. If they’re not happy they can return for a full refund.
But few people return. We have award-winning products that are among the best in the industry and an incredible support team. As a result our return rates are half of what a typical audiologist would see in the clinic.
In order to buy hearing aids online, my best recommendation is to visit Audicus.com and/or give us a call. Our customer support team is there to help explain to people the different features of hearing aids and what they can do to improve their hearing. I also recommend visiting an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or audiology clinic to get a test done, so you can submit the test to us for a recommendation.
- People don't realize that they are losing their hearing. What are the signs/symptoms of hearing loss?
Most people will come up with every excuse possible to avoid the fact that they have hearing loss. Often times they will blame it on someone else mumbling or having “selective hearing” but there are some common signs of hearing loss such as:
- Constantly asking your friends and family to repeat things said in a casual conversational setting.
- Having to turn up the television set to a volume that creates discomfort for others.
- Missing entire portions of conversation at the dinner table without realizing it.
- Not being able to understand women’s or children’s voices (higher frequencies).
- Not being able to distinguish conversation from background noise at restaurants or in loud spaces.
- Most hearing loss is age-related. What can be done to remedy the loss?
Yes and no. Most often, hearing loss is a result of aging, but younger people can also have hearing loss, whether it’s genetic or due to prolonged exposure to loud sound.
Prevention is the best medicine. Being aware of the sounds around you will help prevent hearing loss in your future. The truth is, today’s world is getting louder and louder. Any sound that is above 85 decibels can cause damage to your hearing over time. To put this in perspective, a standard pair of headphones can produce up to 110 decibels of sound! One easy way to prevent hearing loss in your future is to monitor the volume at which you listen to your music when using headphones.
Tip: If you know that you have hearing loss, or even if you think you might, do not let it go untreated. Not only does this make conversations more difficult to have, it isolates you from your family and friends. Get your hearing tested by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or at an audiology clinic and then contact Audicus. Our goal at Audicus is to help everyone hear and enjoy their lives.
Patrick Freuler is the founder/CEO of Audicus, a tech startup that offers hi-tech, affordable hearing aids online to the 48 million Americans with hearing loss.
Prior to Audicus, Patrick spent several years as a strategy consultant at McKinsey and as a healthcare investor at Bain Capital. He has two aerospace engineering degrees from MIT.
Audicus is addressing the rising issue of hearing loss (the third most common chronic health condition among the aging population) by offering hearing aids at prices 70 percent lower than the traditional clinic. Because Audicus is a website, it is able to eliminate overhead costs associated with the clinic and the intermediaries typically involved in the sale of hearing aids. Since June 2012, Audicus has saved people more than $10 million.