By Mary Johnson, editor
A new rule recently announced by the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) approved the sale of over the counter (OTC) hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids can now be purchased in retail stores and online without an appointment for a hearing exam, prescription, or fitting by an audiologist. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), OTC hearing aids are expected to save consumers about $3,000 when compared to prescription hearing aids. This change took effect in October of 2022.
TSCL welcomes the news since basic Medicare benefits don’t include coverage for hearing aids or exams. An estimated 30 million adults in the U.S. could benefit from hearing aid use according to the FDA.
But while OTC hearing aids could make them more affordable and potentially help millions of Medicare beneficiaries, choosing the right hearing aid appears to be confusing and complicated. That’s my first reaction, after spending a mind-numbing hour or so, checking an online retailer. Consumer reviews are often unreliable since companies often provide incentives or pay for positive reviews. And when you think about it, those reviews would be of zero help in selecting the best hearing aid for yourself, since hearing loss and the best type of hearing aid to address it, such as fit and adjustment, differ among individuals.
Fortunately for us all, the NCOA has developed The Complete Hearing Aids Buyer’s Guide for 2023 which is available free on their website. In addition, NCOA Advisors have tested and evaluated OTC hearing aids and picked out 6 of the best choices for seniors in The 6 Best Over The Counter Hearing Aids of 2023.
I may be finally giving hearing aids a try this year, but before I make any selection, I plan to spend some time learning as much as I can about our options before I click on the “Place Your Order” button.
Sources: “FDA Finalizes Historic Rule Enable Access to Over–the–Counter Hearing Aids for Millions of Americans,” U.S. Food And Drug Administration, August 16, 2022.
“The Complete Hearing Aids Buyer’s Guide for 2023,” National Council On Aging, November 7, 2022.