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Dear Avalon family,

This month, I’m going to focus on being wise about your hearing care. Some of you have hearing loss and have yet to seek help. Sadly, too many people think that the solution to hearing loss is to buy hearing aids. So, I’m going to teach you how NOT to buy hearing aids.

For those of you who have already invested wisely in your hearing care, I’ll share some simple but powerful things you can do to keep your hearing care investment working the best for you!

Why do people put off getting help for their hearing loss?
Did you know that the #2 reason why people do not seek help for gradual hearing loss is that they believe “hearing aids cost too much”?  This reason, along with the belief that my hearing really isn’t that bad, keeps over 24 million Americans from getting the help they need.

I believe that these two reasons are rationalizations, or smoke screens, to hide a deeper fear of making a mistake. After all, there are another 8 million Americans who have invested in hearing help.  Too many of them are unhappy with their hearing aids. You probably know someone who doesn’t like their experience with hearing aids.  It’s hard enough to bring yourself to wear hearing aids.  You don’t want them to end up in a drawer, no matter how much you paid for them.  So how do you invest wisely in your hearing health?

Let’s get started by looking more closely at yourself
There are basically three kinds of people who are actively looking for hearing help.  They are the shopper, the patient, and the informed consumer. Which one of these people are you?

The shopper looks at purchasing hearing aids the way they buy a television.
They think that they are simply buying an electronic device and are mainly influenced by price.  Shoppers want to save money, so they don’t read the fine print on hearing aid ads – 50% off hearing aids, this week only!  Fifty percent off of what?  That’s 50% off of the grossly inflated MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price).

I recently met a man who was in sales all his life.  Carl had responded to one of those ads. During his appointment, he felt uneasy, but he needed to get hearing aids. The next thing he knew someone was “closing the deal” and pressuring him to buy. He was told that the sale ended today and if he left, Carl would lose the 50% discount amounting to $7000!  That’s a lot of money. Afraid of losing the deal, he signed on the dotted line.  But Carl left feeling angry with himself because he knew better than to fall for this kind of sales gimmick.

His friend recommended that he come to Avalon Hearing for a second opinion. Carl came to see me for advice. First, I treated him to our EDUCATIONAL Hearing Test and Consultation. He told me that our test was the best test he had ever had! Then, I looked up the MSRP on the hearing aids he had purchased.  It was $13,999. Next, I compared it to Avalon’s regular retail price for the same hearing aids, which includes Avalon’s ALWAYSCare Program (all of your follow-up appointments and care).  It was $6590.  He had just paid $7000 but didn’t realize that he would be charged for any services given after the first year.  Luckily, in the state of California, his rights as a consumer are protected.  Carl was able to return the aids within 45 days and get a full refund.

The shopper can be seduced by how much money they save, without realizing that they should be investing in so much more than just an electronic device.

In the May 2005 edition of the AARP magazine, Richard Gans, president of the American Academy of Audiology, was quoted saying: “A hearing aid is only as good as the professional who evaluates the patient, chooses the best technology, fits the hearing aid and, perhaps most importantly, offers training and follow-up.”

Then, there is the shopper who tends to buy inexpensive things. Inexpensive hearing aids tend to make everything louder but not clearer.  The shopper won’t be able to tolerate wearing their budget hearing aids in noisy places, the very places where they struggle the most to hear and understand. So, they remove their hearing aids. I’ve met far too many people who bought budget hearing aids. They rationalize that their hearing really isn’t that bad, so why spend so much money.  They may have spent $2500, but that’s a poor investment if they end up in the case more than in your ears.

The patient does what he is told.
The patient typically thinks they must stay within their healthcare network to get hearing help.  Ironically, 75% of people do not have hearing aid benefits. The patient does the right thing by discussing their hearing loss with their doctor. The doctor, in turn, may refer them for a hearing ‘evaluation’.  Next thing you know, tests have been performed and you are being prescribed hearing aids within 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, little time was spent to get to know you or your unique hearing needs. These hearing aids are usually ‘dispensed’ to you much like a prescription is filled at the pharmacy. Too many people have bad results when their hearing aids are ‘dispensed’ to them.

In this medical model of dispensing hearing aids, little or no time is typically allowed for a discussion about your concerns about wearing hearing aids. Many people describe this experience as a ‘procedure’ that was done to them. But it does not have to be this way.

The informed consumer finds a hearing healthcare provider they can trust. 
The informed consumer asks lots of questions and usually ends up being a happy hearing aid wearer. They know that a trustworthy provider, who really cares about them, will take the time to get to know them, to learn about their unique hearing loss, their lifestyle, and their concerns.

During Avalon’s EDUCATIONAL Hearing Test and Consultation, our hearing care providers will take extra time to explain your test results to you in a way that you can understand. Together, you’ll decide on the right technology for you.  You’ll feel like you’ve just made a friend for life, someone who will give you the follow-up care and training you need to feel comfortable and happy with your hearing care investment (not just your hearing aids).

The informed consumer gets and stays in action until they feel good about their decision to invest in their hearing care. An informed consumer who cares about their long-term hearing needs may have to visit several different hearing care providers before they find someone who they feel comfortable with and trust.

Ultimately, the informed consumer gets the best value for the best price.  
The informed consumer knows NOT to just buy hearing aids. And, they won’t invest with anyone who treats them like a number in a healthcare system or a victim of high-pressure sales in a retail store. They know that WHO they choose is the most important aspect of getting the best hearing care possible.

If you have an untreated hearing loss, I request that you look at how you want to invest in your hearing care.  Whether you are inclined to be a shopper or a patient, go past your fears of making a mistake. Get into action and become an informed consumer! Then, you’ll be able to make the right decisions for yourself and invest wisely in your hearing care, now and for years to come.

By the way, Avalon’s approach to hearing care has assisted many shoppers or patients become informed consumers. Would you like to become a more informed consumer? If so, call us at (916) 235-9771 for your complimentary EDUCATIONAL Hearing Test and Consultation. You’ll be so glad you did!

Not Living Happily Ever After

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