F.D.A. clears path for hearing aids to be sold over the counter

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Regulators

hearing aids

“The Food and Drug Administration decided on Tuesday to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter without a prescription to adults, a long-sought wish of consumers frustrated by expensive exams and devices,” Christina Jewett writes over at The New York Times. “The high cost of hearing aids, which are not covered by basic Medicare, has discouraged millions of Americans from buying the devices. Health experts say that untreated hearing loss can contribute to cognitive decline and depression in older people. Under the F.D.A.’s new rule, people with mild to moderate hearing loss should be able to buy hearing aids online and in retail stores as soon as October, without being required to see a doctor for an exam to get a prescription. The agency cited studies estimating that about 30 million Americans experience hearing loss, but only about one-fifth of them get help. The changes could upend the market, which is dominated by a relatively small number of manufacturers, and make it a broader field with less costly, and perhaps, more innovative designs. Costs for hearing aids, which tend to include visits with an audiologist, range from about $1,400 at Costco to roughly $4,700 or more.” Christina Jewett, “F.D.A. clears path for hearing aids to be sold over the counter,” The New York Times.