The Italian Competition Authority has launched an inquiry into the hearing aid markets in Italy. This decision comes in response to concerns that prevailing market conditions may be inhibiting fair competition within the sector.
Hearing Aid Markets in Italy
Recent estimates suggest that over 12% of Italy’s population, approximately 7 million individuals, experience hearing issues, with about 30% of them currently using hearing aids.
As Italy’s population ages, the demand for hearing aids is expected to increase further. Hearing aids represent a significant expense, both for individuals and the National Health Service (SSN), which partially covers the costs under existing healthcare regulations.
However, Italy’s hearing aid sector exhibits complex market dynamics and “lacks pricing transparency for consumers”. Distinguishing between hearing aid products and audiology services is said to be challenging, as they are often bundled together. This bundling can impact public procurement entities’ ability to make separate acquisitions for the SSN, potentially affecting sourcing options and cost savings.
Technological innovations are also transforming the sector, with pre-configured hearing aids and remote audiology support services becoming more prevalent.
A Comprehensive Review Planned
The Italian Competition Authority has initiated a comprehensive investigation into the hearing aid markets in Italy to assess market structures and competitive dynamics. The goal is to determine whether any impediments to fair competition exist.
Stakeholders are encouraged to contribute their perspectives on different facets of Italy’s hearing aid markets, encompassing aspects such as market dynamics, competition-related issues, and procurement effectiveness. Interested parties are invited to send their feedback within a 30-day period.
This initiative by the Italian Competition Authority aims to promote equitable competition and ensure the accessibility of high-quality hearing aid solutions that effectively address the citizens’ needs effectively.