What you need to know now that hearing aids are available without a prescription

Chill White holds her hearing aid on April 15, 2022 in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bomer/AFP

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Rick Bomer/AFP

Chill White holds her hearing aid on April 15, 2022 in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bomer/AFP

Beginning Monday, hearing aids will be available for purchase without a prescription throughout the United States

The major shift in hearing healthcare is due to a recent rule change by the Food and Drug Administration, which in August paved the way for the devices to be sold in retail stores without the need for buyers to see a doctor first.

The move has been hailed as a win-win for those with hearing loss, which afflicts millions of people across the country, but experts say customers need to be careful about the products they buy when sales begin.

“I hate using the phrase ‘buyer beware,’ so it’s instead ‘educating the buyer’ about what you’re doing, and what your needs are,” said Kate Carr, president of the Hearing Industries Association, a trade group that represents hearing aids. Manufacturers.

You don’t need a prescription or test to buy a stethoscope

The new rule applies to products for adults who are believed to have mild to moderate hearing loss.

This can include people who have trouble hearing in groups or on the phone, who need to turn the television volume higher than others and whose friends and family say they don’t understand speech regularly or ask others to repeat their speech, according to the nonprofit Hearing Loss Association. American.

Over-the-counter hearing aids will not be suitable for children or people with severe hearing loss.

Under the new rules, there is no longer a requirement to undergo a medical exam, obtain a prescription, or have the device fitted by an audiologist.

People can still get hearing aids by first seeing a doctor, and experts say there are advantages to this option, such as having a hearing aid professionally fitted based on your individual needs and having a doctor monitor the progression of your hearing loss.

But HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelly says that if the new rules drive more people to buy hearing aids, that’s a good thing.

“When someone finds out that they have a hearing loss, they often wait five to seven years before they get a hearing aid,” Kelly told NPR.

“If this is going to inspire people or motivate people because they see these hearing aids in the mainstream, it has to be more affordable or at a different price, they may take that first step sooner rather than later,” she added.

You’ll spend less on over-the-counter hearing aids, but they come at a cost

In the past, the device itself only accounted for about a third of what a person would spend to get an earbud. The rest of the price went to doctors’ appointments and other medical services, and health insurance and Medicare usually don’t cover the cost of hearing aids.

Now, hard-of-hearing people can see a huge drop in what they can expect to pay for an earbud.

The White House estimates that people could see nearly $3,000 in savings when they purchase over-the-counter devices.

However, Carr said from Hamad International Airport that hearing aids obtained through the traditional medical route are not always expensive, and that people who buy the devices without a prescription will miss the advice of medical professionals.

(Senators Elizabeth Warren and Charles Grassley found in a report earlier this year that HIA was among the organizations that made “serious attempts to undermine the efficacy of over-the-counter hearing aids.” HIA now says it supports the new Food Administration rule. and medication.)

Sales are scheduled to start soon. According to Reuters, pharmacy chain Walgreens said it plans to sell the Lexie Lumen hearing aids for $799. Walmart said it will start selling hearing aids in stores and online starting at $200.

There will be a lot of options, so it pays to do your research

The rule change will mean that existing hearing aids as well as new products will be available for purchase in stores, pharmacies and online.

Experts urge clients to do their research. Companies’ websites may contain more detailed information about their products.

Also, sellers are required to include any details about their return policy – if they have one – on the box. The HLAA says it can take three to four weeks to properly adjust the hearing aid.

The association also suggests that people consider whether hearing aids require a smartphone to operate and whether the battery is rechargeable or long-lasting.

In addition, consumers should know the difference between hearing aids and personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs, which are currently sold over the counter and are not intended for people with hearing impairments but rather for those with normal hearing who wish to amplify sounds, such as fishermen. .

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