The Importance of the COOP Movement

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.

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