Over-the-counter hearing aids bring savings and convenience

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From Monday you can buy over-the-counter hearing aids for the first time. They’re in stores and online at places like Walmart, CVS, and even Best Buy. No appointment or prescription needed. They are also less expensive than custom made ones.

Until Monday, getting a hearing aid required seeing a doctor or audiologist and getting a prescription.

“It’s multiple visits and it costs several thousand dollars,” said Dr. Frank Lin, director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The fact that anyone over 18 can now skip this long process and just walk into a store or go online to buy a hearing aid is a big deal, according to Lin.

“I mean, it’s fundamentally a game-changer,” he said.

You can now buy a hearing aid for $500 or $800 instead of a few thousand dollars.

And, Lin said he expects prices to drop even further in the next few years as new companies start making them.

“What I think a lot of people expect these over-the-counter hearing aids to drop in over time to the same price as a good quality wireless earphone which we usually get between $100 and $200, 300 $ at most,” he said.

More … than 40 million people in the United States suffer from some form of hearing loss, and currently, Lin said, only 20% of them use hearing aids.

“We hope that because these hearing aids will now be available in mainstream stores, people will start paying attention to hearing health,” said Barbara Kelley of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

“I don’t think from today we’re going to see a crazy rush,” she said.

But she said she hoped that over time, as people saw them in stores and saw the price drop, others would try them.

Meaghan Reed, director of clinical audiology at Mass Eye and Ear, said the changes that came into effect on Monday are significant, but more needs to be done to make hearing aids truly accessible to everyone who needs them. .

“I don’t think over-the-counter hearing aids are a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem,” she said. “It’s a first step.”

The next step, she said, would be to get insurance, including Health Insurance – to cover them.

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