In Biden’s recent executive order, he shared that “hearing aids are so expensive (greater than $5,000/pair) that only 14% of approximately 48 million Americans with hearing loss use them”. As a result, he will direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.”
What Does This Mean?
Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are very different than traditional hearing aids. They do not require that you see a health professional, they are often self-fitting, and they offer a generic solution.
It could be compared to “cheater” reading glasses versus fully prescribed eye glasses.
When OTC hearing devices do become available in what is estimated to be before November 6th, 2021, they will allow you to buy a low-cost device in the hundreds of dollars rather than the thousands of dollars that is typically required to work with a qualified health professional to achieve better hearing.
Our Thoughts On OTC
- If you have a moderate hearing loss or greater at ANY frequency, then over-the-counter hearing aids are NOT an adequate solution, as OTC hearing aids are only meant for those with mild-moderate hearing loss.
- The only way to obtain an adequate diagnosis for your degree of hearing loss is to have your hearing professionally tested by an audiologist, OTC regulations disregard this very important first step to success.
- Hearing aids alone are not several thousand dollars; they make up only part of the total cost when working with a qualified hearing professional. The professional utilizes years of expertise to walk each patient through the journey of better hearing. The investment typically includes initial fitting costs, follow-up appointment costs, fine-tuning and cleaning costs, as well as the cost of batteries for often years down the road. Better hearing includes more than just hearing aids.
- Hearing aids, as well as the support of a hearing healthcare professional, are available at multiple price points and can vary from $2000 and higher, depending on your unique needs, circumstances and lifestyle – there is typically a solution for all budgets. There are also several organizations, from the Texas Workforce Commission to our very own Hear Lubbock program, that provides hearing help at little to no cost for people in need.
- Over-the-counter are not the right option for many people – they’re only right for a very mild hearing loss in very selective environments. Many who pursue this option will find only temporary relief in certain situations, leaving them wishing they had invested in a more permanent solution.
- Our hope is that when OTC hearing aids are officially launched, that it creates a “buzz,”… causing people to consider their hearing loss much earlier than they would have in the past. Early detection leads to improved treatment results.
As always, we are here for you; if you have questions and want to speak to an audiologist, simply click here, and our friendly team will reach out shortly. Thanks for reading!
Life is worth Hearing,
Julie Hubik, Au.D.
Doctor of Audiology/Owner of Cornerstone Audiology