What does Biden’s executive order about hearing aids mean?
Biden wants the Department of Health and Human Services “to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter. Biden’s argument is that “hearing aids are so expensive (greater than $5000 a pair) that only 14% of approximately 48 million Americans with hearing loss use them.”
This means that Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids can be sold to consumers without the requirement to see a hearing healthcare professional. The hearing aids would be “self fitting” and offer a generic solution for people with a mild hearing loss. This is very much like cheap “cheater” reading glasses. The glasses might not be the best answer but it is an affordable option until more help is needed in being able to see more clearly with a prescribed set of glasses.
OTC hearing aids might become available in November of 2021 and that means that consumers can buy hearing devices that maybe cost a few hundred dollars rather than thousands of dollars. It should be kept in mind that the consumer/patient would not be working with a qualified hearing healthcare provider who can often help the patient to achieve better hearing than with the “cheater” devices alone.
Things to keep in mind when buying an OTC Hearing Device:
- OTC hearing aids will work best for someone with a mild hearing loss in quieter environments. Many who pursue OTC hearing devices will later wish they had invested in a more advanced and permanent solution.
- If you have a moderate hearing loss at ANY frequency then the OTC hearing devices will NOT be an adequate solution.
- OTC regulations do not require a hearing test from an audiologist. Please be aware that the only way to obtain a proper diagnosis for your degree of hearing loss is to have your hearing tested by an audiologist.
- Hearing aids sold without professional services do not cost several thousands of dollars. The cost of the hearing aids is only part of the total cost when working with a qualified hearing professional. The investment typically includes initial fitting and programming, follow up appointments, fine tuning and cleaning costs. In order to get better hearing you will need more than just hearing aids. You will need help from a professional.
- Hearing aids at a professional audiological clinic with professional care can range in price from $800 a piece to $2800 a piece. This is a big price range, and if you are on a tight budget then you should ask for a more basic circuit. This still allows you to get the help you need from your audiologist.
Takeaway: OTC hearing devices can be a good thing for the right person and a good place to start for some, but don’t be afraid to ask for help from your hearing healthcare professional.