How new US administration could change hearing aids market

Opinion

A person with a free-market approach is expected to lead the US FDA under the new Trump Administration, possibly signaling a change in how the medical devices market is viewed, including hearing aids.

How new US administration could change hearing aids market

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece in its Opinion – Commentary column on the US hearing aids market and possible changes in the near future. The article points to current practices of bundling devices and services that it says distort prices.

Hearing aids currently average around USD 3000 per pair and it is estimated that 80% of people in the United States who need hearing aids do not have them, according to White House economic adviser Charlie Anderson. The Obama Administration already got the ball rolling on over-the-counter hearing devices last year, when the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology recommended that the FDA approve this measure. This was the first step to opening the way for hearing aids to be sold without a hearing test and the specialized fitting currently undertaken by audiologists.

Now, it is expected that the new head of FDA may be instructed by Trump’s team to move forward with an over-the-counter device approach. This would de facto undo the bundling approach and probably lead to a significant drop in prices. The article concludes that these moves would help bring hearing aids to millions of people. Prices could shift from a few thousand to just a few hundred dollars.

The article does, however, not look at the role audiology services play in overall care.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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