WASHINGTON, DC — According to Hearing Industries Association (HIA) statistics, total net hearing instrument units dispensed in the United States during the second quarter of 2008 increased by 0.8% (for a total of 629,002 units) compared to the same period last year. This was largely as a result of a 9.5% unit sales increase in units dispensed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which makes up about 15% of the market. However, private sector unit sales, a better reflection of sales for the “average dispensing office,” fell off by only a half-percent (-0.6%).
The 0.8% total unit increase is slightly lower than the 1.1% increase for the first quarter, which was also bolstered by strong VA dispensing from January to March (a 7.3% increase). Private sector sales in the first quarter were flat (0.1% increase). When the two quarters are added together, the market has experienced growth of 0.9% in the first half, and the private sector has witnessed unit sales almost identical to last year (a difference of about 3000 units).
BTEs constituted 57.6% of the market in the second quarter of 2008, up from 55.2% in the first quarter (a 12.6% increase). By comparison, they accounted for 19.0% of the market a decade ago, according to HIA 1998 statistics. Mini-BTEs, open-fit, and receiver-in-the-canal (RITE) technology continue to radically alter the landscape of dispensing; by some estimates, about 42% of all the units dispensed last year were open-fit mini-BTEs.