Over The Counter Hearing Aids? FINALLY!
Over-the-counter hearing aids could FINALLY be available without a prescription! This would give people with hearing loss an affordable alternative to hearing aids. A survey conducted in 2012 found that only about 14% of adults with hearing loss reported wearing hearing aids. This is shockingly low, but there are many reasons for this:
- Hearing aids are expensive. One pair can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $14,000.
- Most insurance companies only provide partial coverage for hearing aids, so there are still out of pocket costs. Medicare completely excludes hearing aids from its coverage.
- There are only a few options for individuals with hearing loss to get affordable hearing aids, with the lifespan of a pair of hearing aids at 5 to 6 years, replacement is therefore inevitable.
- This process isn’t just costly, it’s time consuming. Anyone interested in hearing aids is required to visit a licensed hearing professional in order to receive a prescription prior to purchase of the devices. Testing and tuning of the hearing aids is also required, and doctors recommend going in for a recheck every 6 months. This process would deter anyone with limited time and money from getting the medical equipment they need.
Luckily, the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) was passed in 2017. The goal of this act was to create a category of over-the-counter hearing aids that individuals can set up, tune, and adjust all on their own. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, approval for the devices were delayed. However, sales of these devices are hoping to be official by the end of 2022. They will be available in stores or online. We recommend consulting with your pharmacy or local retailer to find out if they will be selling OTC hearing aids.
There are some positive aspects, as well as negative aspects to the concept of over-the-counter hearing aids.
- While prescription hearing aids can cost up to $14,000, OTC hearing aids are estimated to retail between $90 and $3,000 with an average cost of $1,500 per pair. While this is still a substantial amount of money, these prices are much lower than the prescription alternative.
- Over the counter hearing aids are more convenient to those with fixed incomes and who may have a hard time traveling to doctor’s appointments.
- Many of these OTC hearing aids are just as effective as their prescription counterparts for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
- There are fewer option for customization because you are tuning them yourself, at home.
- These devices are not suitable for people with severe hearing loss. These individuals would still require a prescription for the proper medical equipment.
- Some companies are misrepresenting their product as a medical grade OTC hearing aid. Everyone looking into over-the-counter hearing aids needs to be wary of false advertisement.
To learn more, please visit the following web sites:
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Could Finally Give People an Affordable, Convenient Hearing Solution | Wirecutter (nytimes.com)
5 Best Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids – Updated for 2022 – AgingInPlace.org
Hearing Loss in Adults (nih.gov)