The FDA recently cleared the way for hearing devices to be sold in retail stores without the need for buyers to see a doctor first. This has caused a major shift in hearing health care.
The change is good news for people with hearing problems, but experts say that customers should be careful about which products they buy when sales start.
Carr said that instead of saying “buyer beware,” it is better to say “buyer beeducated” about what they are doing and what their needs are.
If you have trouble hearing in groups or on the phone, need to turn up the TV volume, or if your friends or family say you regularly don’t understand speech or have to ask others to repeat themselves, you might have hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Starting January 1, 2020, you no longer need a medical exam, prescription or fitting by an audiologist to get a hearing aid.
See a doctor to get a hearing aid. Advantages include a professional fitting based on individual needs and monitoring the progression of hearing loss.
If people see hearing aids in the mainstream more often, it might inspire or motivate them to take the first step sooner, she added.
Most of the cost of hearing aids comes from the device itself, which only makes up a third of the total cost. The rest of the cost comes from doctor’s appointments and other medical services, which Medicare and health insurance typically don’t cover.
Carr said that people who buy hearing aids over the counter will not have the same access to advice from medical professionals.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Charles Grassley found that the HIA was trying to make OTC hearing aids not work well. The HIA now agrees with the FDA’s new rule.
Sales will begin soon for Lexie Lumen hearing aids at Walgreens for $799, and Walmart will begin selling hearing aids in stores and online starting at $200.
If a hearing aid needs to be returned, the box must have information about the return policy. It can take a few weeks for the hearing aid to be adjusted.
The association suggests people consider the following things when choosing a hearing aid: whether it requires a smartphone to operate, whether the battery is rechargeable or long-lasting.
Additionally, consumers should know the difference between hearing aids and personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. PSAPs are currently sold over the counter and intended not for people with hearing loss, but rather for those with normal hearing who want to amplify sounds, such as hunters.
Fred Cole is a seasoned news reporter with over 15 years of experience in the industry. He has worked for some of the biggest news outlets in the country, including the Associated Press and CNN.