Sequential and simultaneous bilateral cochlear implants are emerging as appropriate treatment options for Australian adults with sensory deficits in both cochleae. Current funding of Australian public hospitals does not provide for simultaneous bilateral cochlear implantation (CI) as a separate surgical procedure. Previous cost-effectiveness studies of sequential and simultaneous bilateral CI assumed 100% of unilaterally treated patients’ transition to a sequential bilateral CI. This assumption does not place cochlear implantation in the context of the generally treated population. When mutually exclusive treatment options exist, such as unilateral CI, sequential bilateral CI, and simultaneous bilateral CI, the mean costs of the treated populations are weighted in the calculation of incremental cost–utility ratios. The objective was to evaluate the cost–utility of bilateral hearing aids (HAs) compared with unilateral, sequential, and simultaneous bilateral CI in Australian adults with bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.Research Design:
Cost–utility analysis of secondary sources input to a Markov model.Setting:
Australian health care perspective, lifetime horizon with costs and outcomes discounted 5% annually.Intervention:
Bilateral HAs as treatment for bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss compared with unilateral, sequential, and simultaneous bilateral CI.Main Outcome Measures:
Incremental costs per quality adjusted life year (AUD/QALY).Results:
When compared with bilateral hearing aids the incremental cost–utility ratio for the CI treatment population was AUD11,160/QALY. The incremental cost–utility ratio was weighted according to the number of patients treated unilaterally, sequentially, and simultaneously, as these were mutually exclusive treatment options.Conclusion:
No peer-reviewed articles have reported the incremental analysis of cochlear implantation in a continuum of care for surgically treated populations with bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Unilateral, sequential, and simultaneous bilateral CI were cost-effective when compared with bilateral hearing aids. Technologies that reduce the total number of visits for a patient could introduce additional cost efficiencies into clinical practice.