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Another Need To Fix Healthcare January 13, 2017 11:01 AM

WSJ 12 January 2017, page A15 “How Trump Can Help Millions Hear” by Temma Ehrenfeld

So…The Biz Bucks Guy is aging. His youthful artistic endeavors (stretching artistic to the limits) have caught up with him. For most of his life, after taking an audiologist’s quiet-room test, and passing with flying colors, he often heard, “You have doggie ears!” He could hear way above average for a middle-aged adult. Not so much anymore. The high frequencies have dropped. This may be the result of too much highly “artistic” (insert loud) rock-band playing in college.

Recently, The Biz Bucks Guy did a “test drive” with programmable hearing aids. For one day, he wore these $6200 appliances in his ears. Although all noise was amplified, the main complaint…not hearing women’s voices well…(actually a strategic advantage at times) was not improved. The expensive, top of the line devices were quickly returned. OK, so what?

The nation is indebted to Temma Ehrenfeld for pulling back the curtain on the hearing aid industry. Ehrenfeld’s comparison to smart phones is a good one. Why do these mostly-plastic-and-copper duos cost so much, when a smart phone with much more capability only costs a few hundred dollars?

According to Ehrenfeld, “…price is inflated by a moribund market with few manufacturers and audiologists who offer bundled services that distort the price of otherwise cheap hardware.”

Ehrenfeld continues, “Hearing aids can already be purchased online or at retailers— without any of the bundles— for a fraction of the price and customized for your hearing. But few people know this, and audiologists aren’t rushing to itemize the costs in their bundle.”

Transparency in this market will come when the FDA approves the development of a wide variety of specialized hearing aids, similar to how contact lenses and reading glasses are now purchased.

For baby boomers, with the FDA’s help, it will work like this: Get a test, perhaps online. Go to your local pharmacy. Pick your model from a metal stand, next to cough medicine. Pay your $200 or so and enjoy a new world of improved hearing.

This is yet another example of government inaction distorting a healthcare market. In time, maybe you’ll be able to buy a Trump model!

[Although opinion is included, The Biz Bucks Blog is primarily written to former students of Biz Bucks training courses to encourage their daily reading of the three opinion pages of the WSJ. This refreshes principles of Biz Bucks courses and improves business acumen on topics not discussed in Biz Bucks training.]


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