We have been talking about the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids since I first came into this field in 1995. No one wants to wear them unless they have to, so people hide them. Not only are they expensive, but hearing aids also have a disgrace to them — that if you need one, you must be old or getting old.
Sexy is in the eye of the beholder, however, I believe products are not only sexy but can enhance your image and style, fashion, and even political standings. Here are some products that have these types of images even without how you wear them: Large stoned rings, sleek designer cars, lingerie, and fashion designer clothes. We even had masks on our faces recently that made fashion statements and even went so far as a political statement when protecting ourselves from a virus.
This stylish topic of conversation came up last week when I met, over a video call, with a designer in Europe. Inventors, developers, and entrepreneurs are working diligently on finding a product that will fit a style, an image, and a fashion that suits the person who wants to hear better. Will it be called a hearing aid or something else?
He shared with me his thoughts on how some people may want a hearing device that is not hidden, but rather, furthers a person’s style, image, and fashion!
Let me explain more; we all have our style. Perhaps our style is not sexy, but preppy, sporty, grungy, or intellectual. People have preferences for earrings and whether they fit in the ears or the nose. Tattoos that are visible share an image and where you have your tattoo is also a statement of who you are. I notice more tattoos behind people’s ears besides on their arms, back, and shoulders. Simply the clothes you wear and the shoes you put on your feet tell more about who you are. Are you a practical, fashionable, young, old, or artistic person? What you wear on your person reveals a little bit about what you want to portray to the world around you. You dress how you feel comfortable.
Let’s talk about eyewear glasses. Do they make you look smart, sexy, colorful, and artistic? They frame your face. I love that you can change your look with your glasses. Some people try to hide their glasses with clear frames and wires, while others use contacts. Your choice, lots of choices.
Can the inventors and entrepreneurs pull it off and make something that not only looks good but sounds good? I can’t wait to find out. There will be a lot of competition in this space. The new over-the-counter law for hearing aids allows for more great competitive products and hence more inventors to come up with a fantastic products that will meet the needs of another group of people. Will the new fashion-styled hearing wear find its way to people who want to show their hearing aids in an image-conscious manner, a fashionable way? Why not make it fun and exciting and sound great?
One thing that I worry about is that there will not be enough exciting new products from new designers, inventors, and entrepreneurs as we know the top 5 hearing aid brands have so many patents and money, and vertical chains that the new entrepreneur might have to choose to work with one of them, making these companies more monopolistic. which won’t help the price point.
Working with these new inventors and sharing their thoughts and dreams with you the consumer may help them. Hears Hearing & Hearables will keep you posted with the latest technology that becomes available in the healthcare market.
What we professionals know is that it isn’t about the device being fashionable or not. What is sexy is what you hear, how you behave, and how well you age. We know that hearing loss is important to treat. We also know everyone has a preference. We at Hears Hearing & Hearables will help you find that preference, even with a bold stylish look!
No matter what, the product will still be an aid to help you hear! Whatever helps you is what we want at Hears Hearing & Hearables. Keeping you in the “hearing” loop.
If you want more information, please reach out to us and ask away.
What on Earth is Kim up to now?
If you have had an appointment in the office in the past few weeks, or looked at the newsletter Kim just sent out, then you know Kim has launched a new venture. It is a co-op called Hears to U Hearing and Hearables. You may be thinking, why? Doesn’t she have enough on her plate? Why bother? What does she hope to accomplish? Why should I care and why should I join?
I think Kim hoped that the video would answer some of these questions, but a few remain. Let me take a stab at answering a few.
Kim has been in this business for a number of years. Things have changed and continue to change. The entire healthcare industry is evolving. From the viewpoint of the consumer-the patient-not all of these changes have been for our benefit. Several hearing aid companies have merged. As you know from other industries, less competition rarely benefits the end user—us.
If you of a certain age, then you know that Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids. I don’t think many people would disagree with you if you think the Government should make changes to the system and cover the costs. I agree with you too, but I am not optimistic about our chances of making that happen in the near future.
What about those you are not yet of Medicare age or have a Medicare Supplement plan? What about my insurance company? If you have spent any time talking to Kim you have heard her talk about the relatively new third-party administrator plans that some insurance companies have adopted. Recently a few hearing aid companies have partnered with insurance companies to offer a benefit. An insurance company and a hearing aid company working together. I try not to be cynical, so you could think that is a good thing. If you want to be positive, you believe that the CEOs of these large corporations are trying to make things better for their customers. Maybe that is what they think. Unfortunately, these CEOs have to answer to Boards of Directors and stockholders. The bottom line becomes king and that is where the consumer – you- suffers.
You think your insurance company is paying for your hearing aid, but they are not. If you look at the fine print, the company says “this is not an insurance benefit”. You pay $699 or $999 per hearing aid (two levels of technology), but that is your only choice. Really? Two options? Is that aid the right one for you? Will you like the way it sounds? Will it address your hearing needs? What happens if it stops working?
Those are all very good questions, and I would not be surprised if you cannot get a good answer from your insurance company. They are a corporation. One thing businesses understand is competition. That is what we are trying to do with this co-op. To fight for the rights of the consumer, the patient, for each of us to be able to get the hearing assistance we need that is right for us and at a cost we can afford. We need to grow large enough that “people” will need to listen. Kim is asking us all to join her in her fight for the hearing health of all of us. It is not going to happen overnight, but we are asking for your help. Join us because you see the need, you think hearing is important, you support small businesses and not large corporations, you believe service is necessary, you want to help your community.
I hope this has answered a few of your questions, and we all hope that you will think about joining our cause.
By Karen M.