Hearing Aids: Now Available Over-the-Counter
10.31.22 | Al Shoemaker
Congress passed a bill that took effect Monday, October 17th, 2022, that allows for hearing aids to be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) without a need for a prescription for consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss. Those with severe hearing loss are cautioned against purchasing OTC aids and self-diagnosing due to over-amplification of sound causing more damage by purchasing the wrong hearing aid.
Statistically, 67% of people over the age of 70 have hearing troubles, yet only 20% of those with hearing loss actually go through the process of becoming qualified for a hearing aid prescription. The average cost to get a pair of prescription hearing aids in the United States is $4,700 dollars- two thirds of such cost are made up of doctor and audiologist consultations, customization of molds, and follow-up appointments. Professional healthcare providers hope that this law will cause a significant increase in quality of life for many people with hearing loss due to the affordability and availability of hearing aids.
The new federal law creates a new class of hearing aids with less restriction on who can sell them. Over-the-counter aids will be available for purchase at major retailers such as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and Best Buy. These retailers aim to provide products with features like built-in microphones, phone apps for customization, and noise cancelling technology. With some over-the counter hearing aids starting at just $199, the lower cost option is attributed to consumers setting up the devices themselves, although manufacturers of the aids do plan on offering some assistance via phone apps or customer service phone numbers. Buyers are encouraged to try at least three different OTC aids to see which is best for them.
Getting an over-the-counter hearing aid may be even more affordable because traditional fee-for-service Medicare and other health insurers usually cover routine hearing tests. Those with hearing difficulties could see an audiologist for an initial consultation to see their degree of hearing loss and obtain a recommendation of which OTC aid would be most suitable to their hearing needs. A one-time consultation could replace a series of appointments, further decreasing medical expenses. Experts expect the price of hearing aids to fall even further in the future due to more manufacturers and competition entering the market, creating a surplus of options, and decreasing demand.
About the TPA Hearing Trust
Established by TPA in 1975, an independent 501(c)(3) organization, the Hearing Trust accepts tax deductible donations from TPA members, posts, divisions, nonmembers, businesses, foundations, and all other legal entities. To learn more, make a contribution to the Hearing Trust or to apply for aid, please visit www.tpahq.org/tpa-hearing-trust.