The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is hosting a workshop in Washington, DC on April 18, 2017, to examine competition, innovation, and consumer protection issues raised by hearing health and technology, particularly hearing aids and devices with similar functions and features.
Hearing loss is a medical condition with many different causes. Available treatments – such as the use of hearing aids – mostly aim to alleviate symptoms and improve daily function rather than cure the underlying causes.
According to a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine issued in June 2016, an estimated 30 million or more Americans suffer from hearing loss. In addition, an estimated 67 to 86 percent of adults who may benefit from hearing aids fail to use them. One of the primary reasons behind the lack of consumer use is the price of hearing aids and related services.
The FTC’s workshop, “Now Hear This: Competition, Innovation, and Consumer Protection Issues in Hearing Health Care,” will bring together researchers, health care providers, industry representatives, consumer representatives, policymakers, and others to examine ways in which enhanced competition and innovation might increase the availability and adoption of hearing aids by those consumers who need them. In addition, the workshop will examine how to balance consumer health and safety issues with consumer interests in greater competition and innovation and ensure consumers have access to truthful and non-misleading information about hearing health products and services.
Topics of discussion at the daylong event will include:
- Consumer Information and Search Costs
- Innovation in Hearing Technology and Treatment
- Innovation in Hearing Health Care Delivery
- The Benefits and Costs of Regulation
The FTC invites comments from the public on the topics covered by this workshop. For further information on the workshop and the public comment process, including a list of suggested questions open for comment, please see visit the workshop website.
The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be at the Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC. A detailed agenda will be published at a later date. Information about reasonable accommodations is available on the conference website. A live webcast of the workshop will be available on the day of the event.
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