Why Are Hearing Aids Expensive?

Why Are Hearing Aids Expensive?
Why Are Hearing Aids Expensive?

Valued at USD 9.68 billion in 2021 and USD 10.23 billion in 2022, the global hearing aids market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.1% to reach a total valuation of USD 17.68 billion by the year 2029. This is despite the industry experiencing a decline of 12.2% in 2020 as compared to 2019. The unsurprising reason for this decline was the global covid-19 pandemic and the severe lockdowns that affected business and commerce at all levels.

The current growth experienced by the industry is attributable to a rising geriatric population and the growing number of patients requiring hearing aids as well as rising incidences of noise-induced hearing loss. According to 2020 reports by WHO (World Health Organisation) on deafness and hearing loss, approximately 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12 and 35 are at risk of suffering from hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings. The demand for cochlear implants is also rising, especially in children. Healthcare providers are also supportive of early cochlear implantation in an effort to restore hearing. All these factors are highly favorable to industry growth.

What are Hearing Aids and How Did They Evolve?
Types of Hearing Aids
Reasons for High Cost

What are Hearing Aids and How Did They Evolve?

A hearing aid is a device that helps improve hearing for an individual suffering from hearing loss. In many countries, hearing aids are classified as medical devices and regulated by respective laws. They were first created in the 17th century in the form of ear trumpets that then evolved into external hearing aids. These devices fit behind the ear and direct sounds in the front of the ear while blocking other noises. It was the invention of the telephone that started the journey of modern hearing aids. The first ever electric hearing aid was created by Miller Reese Hutchison around 1895 and was called the ‘akouphone’. It was only by the late 20th century that hearing aids began to be available commercially. Hearing aids have undergone a quick and technologically heavy evolution with the invention of carbon microphones, transmitters, digital signal processing chips (DSP), and the development of computer technology.

Types of Hearing Aids

There are many different types of hearing aids available in the market. Most of them, however, share similar electronic components –

1. A microphone that picks up sound

2. An amplifier circuit that makes the sound louder

3. A receiver that delivers the sound into the ear canal

4. Batteries powering the electronic parts

The different styles of hearing aids are Behind The Ear (BTE), Receiver In the Canal (RIC), In The Ear (ITE), In The Canal (ITC), and Completely In the Canal (CIC). All these hearing aids come equipped with various features like directional microphones, noise reduction, feedback suppression, wireless connectivity, and direct audio input to help in different communicative situations.

Types of Hearing Aids
Types of Hearing Aids

Reasons for High Cost

As true as it is that hearing aids are expensive for most people, there are very real reasons behind them.

Research & Development

The process of making hearing aids smaller, more powerful, and more natural sounding involves an R&D process that costs hundreds of millions of dollars and the expertise of electrical engineers, sound engineers, audiologists, computer engineers, programmers, and more. This adds to the final cost of the product.

Professional Services & Other Overheads

Fitting hearing aids on a patient requires a trained audiologist or a hearing aid specialist. These professionals spend anywhere between three and six hours on each individual in an effort to correctly fix a hearing aid. This itself involves a certain cost apart from other overheads like staff expenses, maintaining an office, etc. which add to the final cost of the hearing aids.

Why Hearing Aids Are So Expensive and How That's Changing

Product Customization

In the ear, hearing aid devices require customization to fit in a particular ear. This takes skill, time, and effort adding to the cost.

Product Return Policies

Hearing aids now come with a money-back policy in case of a product return. However, such returned products cannot be sold to anyone else which means the manufacturer has to absorb the cost of that particular device. This, too, adds to the high price of hearing aids.

Market Penetration and Size

Currently, the market penetration and the size of the hearing aid market are comparatively small. For example, only 1% of the US population uses hearing aids. Combined with the costs involved in developing hearing aids, it is unsurprising that hearing aids are so expensive.


With technology evolving and the market poised for growth in the coming years, there are a few over-the-counter hearing aids available which are under USD 1000. However, it can still take up to a few years before hearing aids are available at a price that is comfortable for a middle-class individual to buy. Time will tell how the industry shapes in the future.


What are the different styles of hearing aids?

The different styles of hearing aids are Behind The Ear (BTE), Receiver In the Canal (RIC), In The Ear (ITE), In The Canal (ITC), and Completely In the Canal (CIC).

What are the main reasons of high cost of hearing aids?

Some major reasons for the high cost of hearing aids include:

  • Research and Development
  • Professional Services and other overheads
  • Product Customization
  • Product Return Policies
  • Market Penetration and Size

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