From Monday, consumers will be able to purchasePrices will drop dramatically when the 2017 federal law finally takes effect.
For decades it cost thousands of dollars to obtain a device that could not be purchased without a prescription from an audiologist or other hearing professional, but now a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids cost hundreds of dollars. Walmart says it will sell hearing aids for just $199.
of store subsidy Intended for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. It’s a market of tens of millions of people, and many have so far avoided asking for help because the devices were so expensive.
“From a conceptual standpoint, it’s huge that this is finally happening. Dr. Frank Lin, Director of the Cochlear Hearing and Public Health Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He predicts it could take years for new markets to shake up as manufacturers and retailers get used to selling supplements and consumers get used to the options.
Hearing aid experts say they’re happy the prices have come down. Lin said he expects prices to drop further over the next two years as more competitors enter the market.
Prices and features of new OTC hearing aids vary, just like prescription hearing aids. Pairs of prescription devices typically sell for between $2,000 and $8,000. Some of the technology found in more expensive prescription drugs will be available in cheaper OTC drugs.
OTC hearing aids cost less because they do not bundle the services of an audiologist for hearing assessment, fitting, and device fine-tuning. Instead, the new devices are meant to be set up by consumers themselves, while manufacturers offer technical assistance via apps and phone calls.
Several new companies entered the market, Including SonyThe company will sell the lowest priced self-fitting OTC hearing aid at Best Buy and other retailers for $999.
Walmart said it will offer a range of OTC hearing aids priced between $199 and $299 per pair from South Africa-based company HereX, which also makes Lexi devices. Initially, it will be available at Walmart stores in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. However, the company plans to make it available nationwide soon.
Costco, one of the largest sellers of hearing aids sold through hearing aid professionals, did not disclose whether it will offer them in-store.
hearX co-founder De Wet Swanepoel said the company’s Lexie Lumen OTC hearing aids will allow consumers to program their hearing aids to suit their needs. Other his OTC devices offer pre-programmed settings.
“There are a lot of products on the market and it will require a lot of education for consumers about the differences between devices,” he said.
Some consumers may want to see an audiologist in person or online to get a hearing test before purchasing OTC hearing aids, Lin said. An audiologist can also recommend which hearing aid is best for that type of hearing loss. Medicare, a traditional paid service, and most health insurance companies cover routine hearing tests. However, Medicare and most private insurance companies don’t cover the cost of hearing aids, but many of his private Medicare Advantage plans do.
Consumers can also take hearing tests online or via mobile phone or computer apps, Lin said.
Another factor driving the demand for new devices is that the stigma around wearing hearing aids is diminishing as people now commonly use ear devices to listen to music.
The hearing aid industry remains largely insulated from price competition due to consolidation among manufacturers, extensive state licensing laws mandating sales by audiologists and other hearing professionals, and acquisition of the practice of hearing professionals by hearing aid manufacturers. .
In 2017, fueled by decades of complaints about the high cost of hearing aids, Congress ordered the Food and Drug Administration to set rules to allow over-the-counter sales, which would encourage competition and lower prices. But the coronavirus pandemic has slowed the FDA’s efforts, and last year President Joe Biden ordered the FDA to create these regulations.final regulation announced two months agoUnder federal regulations, the new category of hearing aid bypasses state dispensing laws.
Audiologists who could lose their business warn that the new category won’t help people with severe hearing loss.He also said that over-amplification of sound can damage hearing. Sarah Sidrowskiformer president of the Audiological Society of America.
but, Nicholas ReedAn audiologist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says the device is likely less dangerous than listening to music with earphones turned up too loud. Regulations require new hearing aids to have a safe maximum audio level to protect consumer hearing.
Tom PowersA consultant to the hearing aid industry in New Jersey .
Reed recommends looking for OTC hearing aids with a generous one month or longer return policy. Consumers may want to try out the device for a few weeks to see how it performs. If one brand doesn’t work, you should try another.
It is unclear whether consumers will receive over-the-counter assistance in choosing hearing aids without an audiologist, so switching may be necessary. Some stores will offer assistance. Walmart said it will post information on its website to help people find the right device for them.
Reed also said consumers should look for devices labeled “self-fitting.”
“If you’re tech-savvy, get on board right away,” said Reed, “but there’s nothing wrong with talking to a trained audiologist.”
Nancy M. Williams, president of Auditory Insight, a hearing healthcare management consulting firm, said she reviewed eight leading OTC hearing aid products ranging from $499 to $1,299. Some look like earbuds or are nearly invisible, while others look like traditional hearing aids that wrap around your ears. Most of her OTC aids she reviewed had limited or no Bluetooth connectivity, a feature that allows users to customize their devices, and only about half had rechargeable batteries. . However, all eight allow users to personalize their device based on hearing test results.
She recommends trying at least three OTC supplements to see which one works best for you.
The Audiological Society of America, a professional organization of audiologists, Consumer online information About OTC hearing aids, and consumer advocacy group The Hearing Loss Association of America online advice.
Barbara Kelly, executive director of the American Association for the Hearing Loss, said consumers should take their time and consider new options. The new option will lead to more people getting hearing help, she added. “The benefits outweigh the risks,” she said.
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. KHN is one of his three major operational programs in the United States, along with policy analysis and polling KFFMore (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a donated non-profit organization that provides information on health issues to the public.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hearing-aids-over-the-counter-without-prescription-lower-cost-law-takes-effect/ When the 2017 law goes into effect, you can get hearing aids over-the-counter for as low as $199 without a prescription