Close to 40 million Americans have hearing loss, but only 25 percent wear hearing aids. What’s to blame? Hearing aid prices and stigma. Most places charge thousands of dollars for highly visible devices that make people feel old or handicapped (unlike Audicus’ Invisible Hearing Aids).
Approximately 54 million Americans– roughly 19 percent of the population— have some type of physical or cognitive disability, ranging from vision impairment, to mobility problems to memory loss and trouble socializing.
There are a number of devices, medications and products available to help assist, but the number of people who use these products varies greatly from the number of people who actually need these products. What’s striking about digital hearing aids is that it has by far the lowest adoption rate among a selected number of conditions… as the chart below shows.
Hearing Aids Are 3x Less Adopted than Eyewear?!
This is a striking discrepancy! While hearing loss is certainly not a life-threatening condition, such as diabetes or asthma, being able to hear is certainly a fundamental component of the human experience. The large disparity between the individuals that need these products and those that actually use these products boils down to one major factor: cost.
Life threatening conditions are usually covered by insurance schemes, thus making the out-of pocket expense for the user (if there is one at all) far more bearable. On the other hand, eyeglasses do not correct a life-or-death situation either, but still manage to reach a 3x higher adoption rate. Surely, vision deficiencies affect a far greater proportion of the population (roughly half) and the sheer size of the market has driven the eyeglasses/contact lens industry to become more competitive – ultimately yielding better prices for consumers. That also goes for walking aids, which have become substantially cheaper and thus adopted by a greater percentage of people that need them.
In the case of digital hearing aids and wheelchairs, these products can cost several thousand dollars and are not necessarily covered by insurance, thus leaving an abysmal adoption rate behind.
More Choices Needed for Hearing Aids Access
As we’ve shown in a previous post about the adoption of hearing devices in Europe, where insurance coverage is far more extensive: cost matters! At Audicus Hearing Aids, we think that a first step in the right direction is by creating price transparency and giving people more choice on where to buy their next hearing aid. The online hearing aid model is thus an important component of that alternative, which, analogously, has also played a crucial role in transforming the contact lens and eyewear industry.
Sources: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com www.newdisability.com, www.disabled-world.com, Reuters