US hearing aid sales increased by 4.2% in the third quarter of 2015, aided by a 5.6% increase in private-sector dispensing, according to statistics generated by the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), Washington, DC. However, dispensing activity at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) was flat (-0.4%), dipping into negative territory for the first time in almost a decade (Q1 2006).

For the overall hearing aid market in 2015, unit sales are up 7.2%. Unit growth in the private/commercial sector has maintained a steady clip throughout 2015, totaling a 7.7% growth rate through the first three quarters. So far this year, private-sector sales have experienced excellent, albeit diminishing, quarterly increases of 11.32%, 6.4%, and 5.6% compared to the Q1-Q3 2014. However, it should be noted that Big Box retail is also included in this number, so the percentages do not necessarily reflect what is occurring within the traditional professional channel.

BTEs made up nearly four-fifths (79.0%) of all hearing aid unit sales through the first three quarters of 2015 (80.0% private sector; 75.1% VA). Of those BTEs, 80.7% featured external receivers and 84.2% featured wireless technology.

No real change in return for credit (RFC) rates have occurred this year; about 1 in 5 of all hearing aids (19.8%) were returned in Q3 2015. ITE wireless hearing aids were the most likely to be returned (an RFC of 24.9%), followed by ITE non-wireless (21.1%), BTE wireless (19.2%), and BTE non-wireless (16.3%).