Hearing aid market battle ahead of zero charge rest

On January 1, “100% health” in hearing aids enters its final phase of implementation. From this deadline, we will be able to equip ourselves with hearing aids without spending a euro. This is the promise of the “100% health” device, launched in 2019. It will shake up the market to the point that some players are already preparing for a severe battle.

On that date, the selling price of hearing aids in the “100% health” basket may not exceed 950 euros each (ie 1,900 euros per pair) against 1,100 euros in 2020. Health insurance coverage will pass. , from 210 to 240 euros. Finally, the complementary health insurance will be obliged to reimburse everything else payable by the patient with a so-called “responsible” contract, ie up to 710 euros. A prospect that many patients expect, as the purchase of a device remains expensive.

It is therefore likely that 2021 will be the year of a surge in the market for these medical devices, sold to 800,000 copies in 2019. The patient will have complete freedom to choose his equipment supplier since the 5,000 stores in France will have to offer “100% health” offers with supervised quality. It is therefore difficult for market players to differentiate themselves through price.

In this game, the care networks, set up by complementary health insurance, are those which have the most to lose. To remain attractive, one of them, Santéclair, created for the benefit of 55 complementary health insurance covering 10 million policyholders, is starting to deploy a new turnkey service: the hearing aid specialists in its network offer their patient-clients a teleconsultation. in store with an ENT doctor who will issue an e-prescription to equip the visitor immediately.

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“The idea,” explains Marianne Binst, Managing Director of Santéclair, “is to shorten the deadlines by simplifying the treatment process. Getting a consultation with an ENT doctor may take three to four months to wait. We provide the audioprosthetists members with the equipment necessary for the teleconsultation which is as qualitative as it is face-to-face. “False”, retorts the Union of hearing aid professionals (SDA), which also protests against the device created: “By not going through the general practitioner, Santéclair does not respect the patient’s care path”, insists Luis Godinho, president of the union which denounces another problem, legal this one: “There is risk of gossip! “

“Compérage is prohibited by the public health code, details Me Luc-Marie Augagneur, of the Lyon bar (Rhône). It stipulates that, to avoid conflicts of interest, there can be no teleconsultation at a point of sale. In the case of Santéclair, there is a risk since the complementary health services, the ENT doctor and the hearing aid professional provide each other with patients. “

Hearing control provided by an assistant?

Santéclair, who has just won a lawsuit against unions and the order of dentists, is serene: “We are attacked, we will see! »Retorts Marianne Binst. She admits that the service does not respect the course of care, but, she says, “it is not compulsory”. Except that, suddenly, health insurance does not reimburse the teleconsultation. “For the moment, we take care of it,” replies the general manager. But today, when he goes to see an ENT, the patient often has an outstanding charge to settle… “

The SAD also denounces the plans of the Kalixia healthcare network, which provides in its texts that the hearing control will be provided every other time by an assistant. “Marketing practices and competition today put the patient’s interest in the background”, annoys Luis Godinho.

When questioned, the National Council of the Order of Physicians remains silent. But in a 2018 notice, he wrote that pharmacy teleconsultations are possible provided that the care pathway is respected and that the consultation request comes from the patient or the doctor …

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