There are great economic benefits to society from cochlear implantations, studies find.

A Dutch study has found that cochlear implantations are economically sound investments and that cochlear implantations therefore generate an advantage for both patients and society.

The study found that the increased healthcare costs due to a cochlear implantation were more than compensated by the value of the health benefits and by savings in educational and productivity costs.

The study assessed the costs and benefits of cochlear implantation in the Netherlands from a broader societal perspective, including health outcomes, healthcare costs, educational costs and productivity losses and gains.

Three groups of patients

In the study, the costs and benefits were analysed by prototypical instances of three groups, representing the majority of cochlear implant patients: prelingually deaf children implanted at around the age of 1, adults with progressive profound hearing loss implanted at the age of 40 and seniors implanted at the age of 70 with progressive profound hearing loss. Costs and benefits were estimated over the expected lifetimes of the members of each group.

Economic benefits

In all three patient groups, the total benefits of cochlear implantations exceeded the total cost, leading to a net benefit of cochlear implantations. But for children and working adults in particular, the societal benefit was positive even without taking health benefits into account.

Prelingually deaf children with a bilateral cochlear implantation had a lifetime positive outcome net benefit of €433,000. Adults and seniors with progressive profound hearing loss and a unilateral cochlear implantation had a total net benefit of €275,000 and €76,000 respectively.

The results ensue from health outcomes expressed in monetary terms, reduced educational costs and increased productivity.

Unilateral cochlear implants are also cost-efficient

A British study found that unilateral cochlear implants are cost-efficient for people with severe to profound hearing loss.

The study, “Cost-benefit Analysis of Cochlear Implants: A Societal Perspective”, was published in the journal Ear & Hearing.

The study, “The cost‑effectiveness of unilateral cochlear implants in UK adults”, was published in the journal The European Journal of Health Economics.

Sources: and the journals Ear & Hearing and The European Journal of Health Economics

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