Health economic outcomes

 

Hearing loss has both direct and indirect economic implications for individuals and society. The cost of hearing aids is well documented and has been a substantial barrier for accessing the devices among older Americans.

 

Center director Frank Lin was instrumental in the passage of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 to make hearing aids more accessible and affordable. Other economic costs include medical expenses and lost productivity, which can generate substantial financial stress among lower-income adults. As the ties between hearing loss and other health outcomes, such as dementia, are identified, research on the role of hearing loss to high health care utilization and spending may present mechanisms for reducing unnecessary cost and use of services.

 

With the passage of the OTC Hearing Aid Act of 2017, hearing care policy and practice is likely to undergo substantial change over the coming years as hearing aids become directly available to consumers over the counter. At present, hearing aids can typically be purchased by consumers only when bundled together with associated professional services which may or may not always be needed.

 

While substantial progress has been made, much work remains to provide better support for individuals with hearing loss.

 

Center research, led by Amber Willink, aims to understand the role of health economics and outcomes research in supporting policy changes like the OTC Hearing Aid Act and innovative models of care, as in the ACHIEVE trial, from trial phase to broader adoption using cost analysis, modeling estimates and projections.