The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 implements recommendations from PCAST and the National Academies to help the millions of Americans affected by hearing impairment. The Act reportedly:
- Makes certain types of hearing aids–those intended to be used by adults to compensate for perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment–available over the counter.
- Removes an unnecessary and burdensome requirement that consumers obtain a medical evaluation or sign a waiver of that examination in order to obtain an OTC hearing aid.
- Requires the FDA to issue regulations containing safety and labeling requirements for this new category of OTC hearing aids.
- Maintains existing safety, labeling, and manufacturing protections and applies them to OTC devices in order to ensure that OTC hearing aids are held to the same high standards as other medical devices.
- Requires the FDA to update its draft guidance on Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), consumer electronics products that may use similar technology to hearing aids, but are intended for use by individuals with normal hearing.
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was introduced Monday, March 20, by US Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga). The reintroduced bipartisan legislation is designed to make hearing aids for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss available over the counter (OTC), and a companion bill led by Representatives Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) was also introduced in the House.
The bill, which largely mirrors legislation (S9) introduced by Senators Warren and Grassley in late 2016, would require the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to propose a rule that would establish an OTC hearing aid category for adults with “perceived” mild-to-moderate hearing loss within 3 years of passage of the legislation, and finalize a rule within 180 days after the close of the comment period. According to its authors, the proposed legislation would also require the FDA to write regulations ensuring that this new category of OTC hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as all medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.
According to the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), the bill includes provisions related to the safety and efficacy of OTC hearing aids, output limits, and labeling, as well as a provision that would preempt all state laws that restrict the sale of OTC hearing aids. It would also require FDA to decide upon and establish the regulatory structure for OTC hearing aids, including whether 510(k) clearance is required before an OTC hearing aid is cleared for sale. FDA is also directed in the bill to update and finalize its 2013 Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP) Guidance to clarify which products on the basis of claims, marketing, labeling or advertising meet the definition of a hearing aid.
Legislators’ comments. “Allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter will help bring down costs and expand consumer choices so that millions more Americans can find affordable hearing aids,” said Senator Warren in a press statement. “This bill will loosen up outdated regulations and, with the right protections in place, let the market bring great products to Massachusetts residents at far lower costs.”
Senator Grassley reiterated his points about the previous version of the bill, saying there is a need for “basic, safe hearing aids” in the same way there are non-prescription OTC reading glasses. He says the goal is to make amplification devices more easily available to consumers, and thus increase competition and consumer choice, and lower costs. The other sponsoring legislators commented:
- Senator Hassan: “Even when hearing aids are covered by insurance, as they are in New Hampshire, seniors can still be stuck with bills totaling thousands of dollars. Allowing certain hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter, just like reading glasses are, is a common-sense step that can bring real cost savings to older Americans.”
- Senator Isakson: “This commonsense legislation will benefit millions of Americans who depend on hearing aids to communicate with their friends and family and live a full life. This step will drive down costs, increase competition, and simply make it easier for individuals with hearing loss to obtain this basic but essential product.”
Congressman Kennedy: “Access to hearing aids shouldn’t be limited by cost and a lack of competition. Recent innovation in hearing aid technology and over-the-counter sales will ensure millions of Americans are able to obtain hearing aids that improve their ability to communicate with their families, at their jobs and everywhere in between.”
- Congressman Blackburn: “This legislation is the first step to ensuring that millions of Americans can finally have access to affordable hearing aids.”
Divergent Opinions with at Least One Point of Agreement
The provisions of the OTC Hearing Aid Act implement major recommendations from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). The legislation has received endorsements from AARP, the Gerontological Society of America, and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), organizations which for the most part took cited the same reasons as the above sponsoring legislators.
Criticisms of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recommendations to remove existing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) medical clearance requirements and allow for the over-the-counter (OTC) sale of hearing aids to adults ring hollow, particularly given the expanding body of evidence regarding the risks and comorbidities associated with untreated hearing loss—and the vacuum of proof of harm associated with direct-to-consumer hearing aid sales. —Brian Taylor, AuD, and Stephanie Czuhajewski, Hearing Review (Oct 14, 2016)
The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) have also come out in favor of both the PCAST and NAS recommendations, with some important qualifications.
Other stakeholders, including the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and International Hearing Society have been critical of at least some elements within the PCAST and NAS recommendations, although a more recent position statement by AAA appeared to strike a more neutral stance.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has been among the most vocal critics of the bill. In a press statement issued on March 21, ASHA said that it supports greater access to hearing health care services, but believes the bill goes too far in expanding “direct to consumer” hearing aids to individuals with moderate hearing loss:
“We are encouraged by the willingness of the Senators and Representatives to work with ASHA to include measures that will advance safe and effective hearing health for many Americans,” states ASHA. “These measures include specific FDA regulations of OTC hearing aids that: 1) Establish or adopt output limits that are appropriate for the devices; 2) Designate labeling requirements that cover how consumers may report adverse events using the devices, and 3) Specify conditions or contraindications for which use is not advised.
ASHA states that is particularly concerned about the absence of any language specifying that OTC devices are for mild hearing loss only, the need for protections in the bill that ensure that children with hearing issues are not the users of OTCs, and the requirement for the FDA to collect data on adverse events and contraindications.
HIA, the trade organization for the hearing device and equipment manufacturers, reports that it supports efforts to increase the accessibility and affordability of hearing aids. However, HIA believes that, if an OTC hearing aid category is established, the devices should be of “high quality and offered only to people with mild hearing loss, for whom the benefits of amplification clearly outweigh the risks created by inaccurate self-diagnosis and self-directed treatment.”
In late-June, HIA provided its position on several issues related to hearing healthcare in the United States, stressing both the critical need to appropriately treat hearing loss, and the crucial role of hearing professionals in providing treatment for people with hearing loss that lead to successful outcomes. Citing the testimony of numerous witnesses, HIA emphasized the importance of FDA regulation to ensure hearing aid effectiveness and safety, and to avoid a marketing “race to the bottom” that would accompany deregulation of the hearing aid market.
This last point—although not supported by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and several larger telecom and headset manufacturers—appears to be shared by most in the hearing industry, the allied professions, and consumer organizations—and is reflected by the new bills in Congress. During an April 2016 meeting sponsored by FDA, entitled “Streamlining Good Manufacturing Practices [GMPs] for Hearing Aids,” most of these stakeholders supported keeping the current quality system regulations (QSR) that oversee the development and manufacture of Class I and Class II hearing aids. Most hearing aid and hearable manufacturers said that QSRs were neither a significant impediment to technological progress nor added significantly to the cost of the devices. Likewise, the members of the professional and consumer groups maintained that the current system offers at least some reassurance that the products perform as intended, demonstrate the basic safety measures and function expected of a medical/hearing device, and offer an effective system for complaint handling and recalls.
Up Next: The FTC Workshop
On April 18, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a workshop to examine competition, innovation, and consumer protection issues raised by hearing health and technology, especially hearing aids. The FTC’s workshop, “Now Hear This: Competition, Innovation, and Consumer Protection Issues in Hearing Health Care” will examine ways in which enhanced competition and innovation might increase the availability and adoption of hearing aids by those consumers who need them. The workshop will also examine how to balance consumer health and safety issues with consumer interests in greater competition and innovation and ensure consumers have access to truthful and non-misleading information about hearing health products and services. Topics of discussion at the daylong event will include: 1) Consumer information and search costs; 2) Innovation in hearing technology and treatment; 3) Innovation in hearing healthcare delivery, and 4) Benefits and costs of regulation.
A registration page and more information about the workshop can be found here.
Wouldlove to know how many in Congress have hearing aids, paid for by American taxpayers. Get the gist?
Some interesting reading. As an Audiologist working in the UK for the past 30 years I have to agree that having the ability to buy OTC is a backward move. To fit a good quality device to any patient takes a minimum of 2 – 3 hrs work. Most patients i have come across buying what would be classed as OTC hearing aids in the UK have usually come to regret it. They would have been just as well using a cardboard tube!!
Maybe more useful lobbying politicians to give all citizens access to free hearing aids as here in the UK.
There is something in the bill that is overlooked. The “hearing aid specialist” will not have to volunteer information that you should see an audiologist if your hearing test shows you have a hearing problem. I got a hearing aid 10+years ago
and a while back I was having some type of hearing problem in my other ear. My GP sent me to an otolaryngologist (ear/nose/throat) specialist who in turn sent me to an audiologist. Was told my ear(with the hearing aid) has had a problem with a small bone in the inner ear which has been calcifying(for lack of the correct word) for a long time but could be fixed with a simple surgical procedure and I would be able to hear normally. So what about other people who go for a hearing test, told they have a hearing problem and not
told maybe to see an audiologist before getting a hearing aid. “That person may have a tumor”! And they are trusting that
a hearing problem is all that they have. Who knows how many other medical problems are overlooked this way.
Like anything DIY, numerous people will likely go the cheap route only to find/prove that you get what you pay for — and will likely end up paying more in the end.
As a licensed but retired hearing aid dispenser the timing for this change couldn’t be better. I believe that if OTC hearing aids had been available while I was in business I would have soon been out of business.
On the other hand, I look forward to having access to a greater choice of inexpensive hearing aids in my retirement. Hearing aid consumers have been forced to pay exorbitant profit margins by the hearing aid manufacturers and their providers for years.
OTC hearing aid critics, and people who stand to be financially hurt by OTC sales, point to the need for professional fitting and patient care, which people can opt out of by buying an OTC hearing aid. Or reading glasses.
The experience I’ve had with my last three pairs of hearing aids which I purchased online, which is what OTC really means, has been positive. The current set I’m trying had to be seen back for an adjustment, but with a supply of mailers I don’t even have to leave my house to do that. The Internet offers an alternative means of purchasing the goods and services to the brick and mortar establishment. Most times it’s easier and more convenient, not to mention cheaper, to purchase online. With today’s traffic, nothing is “local” than your own mail box.
As you get older you cannot hear as good as when you were young. I’ve gone to three places trying to get hearing aids but, the cost is extremely high. As a senior it is very disappointing not being able to buy one. I feel this is important for everyone to be able to buy hearing aids over the counter as we do with eye glasses.
Being someone whose poor elderly Mom had to pay $800 for my one hearing aid in Feb and now $1400 for my latest one, I am on limited income, I would immensely appreciate Congress getting a bill out there that would put in competition, i., e., lower prices of hearing aids, they are outrageously expensive and if you ARE on limited income…..forget about it!!!!!
Audiologists need to get out of the way. Within a few years of free competition millions of people will have fantastic new technology offered by the largest tech companies in the world, and undoubtedly the new devices will be so feature rich the stigma of wearing a hearing aid will give way to fashion, convenience, utility, and safety. There will be solutions for tinnitus that will dramatically improve people’s quality of life. I personally can’t wait for relief. If you’re an audiologist then you might want to stop making disingenuous self-serving arguments to protect your anti-American stranglehold on something so important to so many people’s health and read the book Who Moved My Cheese (with OTC glasses).
I have had expensive as in multiple thousands of dollars for digital hearing aids from a highly recommended audiologist. Both times I was seriously disappointed in the long term reliability of the aids, the actual functionality, and the initial cost. NOTE: my primary complaint is about innovation. Yes, I have access and yes I could afford these. If a comparison to the iPhone and large screen TVs is made, then make it with the acknlowledgement that the cost has gone down and the functionality and innovation have INCREASED.
Why do I have the feeling that this is going to destroy the electronic hearing protection market? (possibly on purpose)
Better stock up now.
Another example of government cronyism, lies, overreach and corruption. The problem being solved by this legislation isn’t danger to consumers from poorly manufactured equipment, the problem being solved is eliminating the competition for companies selling hugely overpriced hearing aids. No has been injured by the inexpensive “sound amplification” devices currently being sold over the counter. This legislation takes a great inexpensive product and puts it under the control and regulation of the FDA which will significantly raise their prices and control them. This is the hearing aid industry bribing congress to eliminate competition and FDA expanding its reach all at our expense. See this legislation for what it is; good for bigger government, good for political contributions to Senators Warren and Grassley, good for the hearing aid industry bad for consumers.
The breathtakingly self-serving response of the professional audiology community to this measure would be a lot more credible if, as often happens with opticians, the licensed professional tells the patient “your problem is minor, have you tried an over-the-counter solution from WalMart?” That they NEVER do this, using the excuse that there are no such solutions, is EXACTLY the point.
My problem with OTC Hearing aids is that not every Hearing loss is the same. There is a lot of science going on between your ears and the brain. The same way we make Insurance cover machines that test your blood or birth control we should make Insurance including Medicare cover a Hearing aid. Push the market to drive down the cost. How would you know what type of hearing loss you have without seeing a professional? What if you do more damage? What if it’s a blockage in your outer ear that’s causing the loss or chronic ear infection or drainage? The possibilitys are endless on why you might be experiencing a hearing loss. This doesn’t seem like responsible option.
seniors on small fixed income cannot afford the outrageous over-priced hearings offered by the popular hearing aid companies.It is as simple as that,and for that reason too many people are doomed to live with hearing loss.The pending otc bill s670 is long overdue.tell your congressperson to vote for its passage
As an educator, hearing is critically important and salary does not support a huge purchase like hearing aids. Please consider teachers in this discussion. We need some relief. This would be a godsend for the minor hearing loss many of us experience.
It’s about Time. $2500.00 apiece is a tad bit pricey for we Seniors !!
I am a Senior almost 80 years old, and I am living on Social Security. I have had a hearing loss for a number of years now. The Cost of a Hearing Aid is beyond my means, and because of that I have to keep asking people to repeat everything even on the phone. I would very much like to see Hearing Aids added to Medicare with a very low Co-Payment. The OTC Version would be much better than nothing, and help me join the people around in Conversion.
Originally, I purchased hearing aids from a hearing “expert.” One of them quit working after four years. I started to read about hearing aids and the New York Times had an article on how hearing aid had the same technology as toys on Walmarts shelves. A number of readers said they were using Walkers Game Ear as hearing aids. These are worn by hunters to block the sound of guns but at the same time let you hear your companion hunters and what is going on around you. I bought only one at first on Amazon. com. It is a Walkers Game Ear elite pro (elite) is the smaller one. There is another one costing a bit more. That is the second one I bought, but I could see no difference between them. I found no difference between it and the expensive hearing aids which were $3800 a pair. So I bought another one and have been using them for four years. I don’t think any hearing aid will let you hear like you used to. I do fine with them except in crowded restaurants. I can hear the two or three people around me, but not the 10th person down the row in a group. At home, I can. Right now they cost about $175.00 apiece on Amazon.com. I think I could get by with just my left ear, but I use both. I hope you can afford at least one because it will make a world of difference. I don’t own any stock in the company or have no ties to the company. I am just passing this on to help people who can’t afford the expensive hearing aids.
The so-called “important study” found at http://www.audiology-worldnews.com/market2/2068-important-us-study-sheds-light-on-over-the-counter-delivery-model is fatally flawed from the outset by including only those “with medically uncomplicated hearing loss”. Who decides that a given case is “medically uncomplicated” under that OTC Delivery Model? Without the current FDA regulation, which has withstood the test of time and everyday practice, there is really no one left to determine who needs and who does not need medical attention.
Another major flaw is that although it purports to be a “double blind: study, it biases consumer opinion by dividing them into two price point strata, $600 per device and $3600 per device. Several problems arise here:
1) Only a tiny handful of hearing aid offices in the US charge $3600 per device–so it misrepresents the true average cost of appropriately fitted hearing aids which currently stands at about $1495, not $3600,
2) One can obtain good, basic hearing aids for $600 each from most dispensers in the US according to a recent statewide survey in Arizona,
3) The study pretends the cost of the hearing aids reflects just the hardware itself,
4) Thereby completely disregarding the essential and added value services of the professional dispenser,
5) And does not measure important aspects of dispensing, such as own voice effects, spatial ability, comfort, dexterity, and ongoing servicing considerations and the expert counseling that goes with it.
I will repeat some of my earlier treatise on the topic of PCAST/PSAPs here and hope our members are getting aboard the fight to persuade the powers that be that the Grassley/Warren bill and all those being quietly introduced to state legislatures throughout the US that these proposals are NOT good for consumers–and take away current needed consumer protections.These proposals will NOT increase accessibility nor lower real costs. No healthcare product and service in the US is more accessible than hearing aid dispensing products and services. Competitive forces keep costs under control as they should. Besides, cost and accessibility are not even anywhere near the top of the list of reasons hearing impaired individuals are not wearing hearing aids.
The PCAST/PSAP recommendations, if implemented, will be extraordinarily harmful to hearing impaired consumers. The industry that has worked so hard to bring about the many consumer protections built into today’s hearing health system and licensing laws that are not available in any other healthcare area.
Furthermore, past studies have shown again and again that most hearing impaired individuals perceive their loss to be “mild” or “mild to moderate”. Hence, unsuspecting consumers will be unwittingly drawn to inferior devices and services without anyone being required to refer them for medical and/or audiological care when needed. Without professional guidance, case history taking, counseling, appropriate and safe impression taking, programming and tests for verification, own-voice problem resolution, and technical services consumers will be left in the cold and develop a far worse impression of hearing aids, in general.
It is simply egregious to build recommendations on the false premise that accessibility and cost are holding back a market that is actually in denial. Study after study demonstrates that cost is NOT a prominent or leading barrier, but instead lack of awareness, consumer education, and the psychological & psychosocial aspects related to long standing hearing loss. Besides, most dispensers have no cost or low cost programs that help those truly in need but without personal resources.
It is critical to note that the fatal flaws to PCAST recommendations are thus:
1) Doing away with the FDA 8 Red Flags and medical exam (and waiver) requirement will effective decouple the Otolaryngologist from the hearing health team on the majority of the hearing impaired market. This will present serious public health threats reminiscent of the pre-1977 rules and regulation.
2) Proliferation of unlicensed and unqualified individuals to sell hearing aids will subject hearing impaired consumers to misfitted devices that do will meet their needs, and will fail to refer them for medical and other care when indicated.
3) Requiring licensed practitioners, who stand to suffer dramatic loss of business, to provide a free copy of their hearing test so that it can be taken to unlicensed competitors is unfair competition and detrimental to consumers on several levels. In short, the current network of licensed dispensing professionals will be so badly disrupted as to leave uncountable hearing aid users without the technical and counseling support system they now enjoy.
I urge all to reject these poorly conceived proposals. They were instigated without input or approval from the hearing aid profession. They ignore the psychosocial and immensely complex components of loss of human hearing, and will leave consumers with less access to quality care and support services, and will effectively demolish the carefully developed Hearing Health Care Teams that now serve every community of the United States.
The link to the IHS Website to contact your Congressman/woman and Senators is found at https://secure3.convio.net/ihsac/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=219. There, you can email each of them and also print out a copy to mail snailmail. I suggest doing both.
Anyone wishing to discuss these issues with me personally are welcome to write me at [email protected].
Max Stanley Chartrand, Ph.D. (Behavioral Medicine)
Managing Director/DigiCare Behavioral Research
820 West Cottonwood Lane, Suite #6
Casa Grande, Arizona 85122
Access is not the problem. Hearing aids can be purchased in any city, any town across America by going to see one of many hearing care professionals. Just look in any newspaper, there are usually multiple advertisements.
Affordability is not the problem. If people wanted them, they would buy them. Financing is available. Just like having an iPhone, big flat screen tv, or a car. Which all have huge mark ups that no one complains about.
We should be up in arms about how the big cable companies are screwing us! Why can’t we just pay for the channels we want?
A large percentage of the population who need hearing aids wouldn’t wear them even if they were free. Or they would try them for a day and say they don’t work because they expect too much.
You get what you pay for. The problem is people don’t value hearing care professionals and what they do!
Someone can go but the best hearing aid and do poorly with it if it’s not programmed properly, set too loud or too soft, if they never keep them properly cleaned, etc. the majority couldn’t handle doing it all themselves, then they would be coming to the hearing care professionals for help with their OTC devices, and would the professionals (whoever is left) actually want to help these people? Certainly not for free!!!
Hearing aids could be sold cheaper, but that is up to the manufactures who make them to sell them to the hearing care professionals for less. I don’t see them wanting to do that. Over the last 10 years, the better ones have only gotten more expensive for the practioners. Then with added pressures and competition they have to charge less to the consumer.
The hearing care professionals have been slowly getting the squeeze making it harder for them to even stay in business.
So lets go ahead and make hearing aids OTC, in 5 years it’s going to blow up in the lawmakers faces. Satisfaction rates will plummet, and there will be even less trust to the industry. All because some company’s top people were greedy and wanted to make more money. Who will be hurt in the long run while the fat cats are driving off in the sunset on their yahchts!
If OTC devices could be properly regulated, no more than 15dB with an 85dB output, then it might not be the worst idea in the history of hearing aids!
To think that programming a hearing aid is as easy as plugging in numbers from the audiogram is ludicrous. If that were the case, hearing aids would already be available through a kiosk at Wal-Mart! The consumer would not know how to proceed after “first fit”.
I’m a hearing aid dispenser and I’m shocked at how someone who has never dealt with hearing loss can claim that the consumers will be safe by using over the counter devices. First, most people who come in for the hearing test say that they’re only missing some things and yet the hearing test shows more significant hearing loss. Also, comparing the hearing aids to glasses is wrong since the consumers don’t replace lenses and frame by themselves, but with hearing aids you have to replace batteries, filters, domes, etc. If the dome is not secure enough and gets dislodged in the ear, it’s a medical emergency to get it out.
The main argument for the introduction of this bill is cost and affordability. Also the viewpoint of the proponents of this bill is that hearing aids are just a commodity. Hearing aids are useless without someone to program and fit them appropriately which suggest that hearing professionals provide a commodity PLUS a perpetual service. How many people complain about their cell phone cost, their TV cost, or their computer cost? I say this because all of these are examples of not just a commodity, but a commodity PLUS a continued service. So, not just a cell phone, but the cell phone plus the monthly service fees, the TV plus the cable service fees, and so on. Pew Research conducted a poll that shows 67% of American now own a smart phone with an average monthly fee of $110/mo. Over 5 years (the typical life of hearing aids), that’s $6,600 for a NON-medical product plus the service not including the cost of the cell phones. People rarely grumble about this cost, however the same money would pay for really good hearing aids and related services for 5 years in most places. My point is that cost really is not the issue, it’s the fact that it is all paid up front rather than monthly. For example, if people had to pay up front for 5 years of cell phone service, how many people would have cell phones? Certainly not the 67%. I believe there is a difference between cost and affordability. Hearing professionals don’t earn any more money per unit time per person than a cell phone provider, so demonizing the hearing profession and manufacturers for how much they make is not a conductive way of thinking. It the cost necessary to stay in business like any other field. Also consider that this is a medical product and service that is highly regulated and expensive for the providers too. In addition, I don’t feel the analogy of reading glasses compares to over-the-counter hearing aids. Reading glasses are of little or no competition to real glasses. If I went to Walmart to buy reading glasses, I would still need real glasses to drive and see the world. However, the OTC hearing aid is meant to replace real hearing aids for some people and the intention is to FDA approve them as medical products. Are reading glasses FDA approved as a medical product? Maybe they are, I don’t know, but the FDA stamp of approval is really going to misleading people into thinking they got help for their serious hearing problems. Finally, eye glasses are largely meant to help with a misshapen eye, whereas hearing aids are largely meant to help with a damaged peripheral nervous system. TOTALLY different. The two do not equal and comparing them in an attempt to push through legislation is false, intentionally misleading, and dangerous to the public.
HCP’s (Hearing Care Providers) have for a long time controlled the entry way into hearing health care. However, the same can be said of the dental industry. To allow hearing devices to be sold like glasses would be the equivalent of selling dentures or retainers for teeth at Walmart. It is essential that professional HCP’s manage the gateway to hearing health care. How many sets of OTC hearing aids would a person need to purchase to insure a proper prescriptive fit? We need to truly think this through before we rush to judgement because cost is the driving factor when selecting hearing aids. We should all consider the psychology of the hearing impaired individual as well as their credit card limit. Maybe as HCP’s, we can find a way to continue to meet the needs of the hearing impaired that makes financial sense to all of us.
Presently the user can program a prescription into their hearing aid using an app. There would be no need for multiple hearing aids. The electronics can be bought OTC from Digikey. The user does need to have regular exams to inspect ear health as always. The advancements in software have been very impressive, they deserve credit for that.
I sure do hope we can learn how to better educate the HOH consumers. Many now believe that all health care is a right & must be free.
I saw five ads for hearing aids priced from $19.95 to $359.00 this month.
My greatest concern is that all this confusion will damage millions of lives, relationships, and exacerbate the comorbidies.