Cost-Effectiveness of Pediatric Cochlear Implantation in Rural China

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To evaluate the cost utility of cochlear implantation (CI) for severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) among children from rural settings in P.R. China (China).

Research Design:

A cost-utility analysis (CUA) was undertaken using data generated from a single-center substudy of the CochlearTM Pediatric Implanted Recipient Observational Study (Cochlear P-IROS). The data were projected over a 20-year time horizon using a decision tree model.


The Chinese healthcare payer and patient perspectives were adopted.


Unilateral CI of children with a severe-to-profound SNHL compared with their preimplantation state of no treatment or amplification with hearing aids (“no CI” status).

Main Outcome Measure/s:

Incremental costs per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained.


The mean total discounted cost of unilateral CI was CNY 252,506 (37,876 USD), compared with CNY 29,005 (4,351 USD) for the no CI status from the healthcare payer plus patient perspective. A total discounted benefit of 8.9 QALYs was estimated for CI recipients compared with 6.7 QALYs for the no CI status. From the healthcare payer plus patient perspective, incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for unilateral CI compared with no CI was CNY 100,561 (15,084 USD) per QALY. The healthcare payer perspective yielded an ICER of CNY 40,929 (6,139 USD) per QALY. Both ICERs fell within one to three times China's gross domestic product per capita (GDP, 2011–2015), considered “cost-effective” by World Health Organization (WHO) standards.


Treatment with unilateral CI is a cost-effective hearing solution for children with severe to profound SNHL in rural China. Increased access to mainstream education and greater opportunities for employment, are potential downstream benefits of CI that may yield further societal and economic benefits. CI may be considered favorably for broader inclusion in medical insurance schemes across China.

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