According to AARP’s Public Policy Blog, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved over-the-counter sale of basic hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss via a final rule taking effect 60 days from the date of publication (August 16).
This means that people will be able to buy these hearing aids in pharmacies, other retail stores, and online without a prescription. Allowing over-the-counter sale of these devices is expected to stimulate competition and bring down prices.
AARP’s blog post on the issue raises the fact that, despite the prevalence and risks associated with hearing loss, only 13 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who report having hearing troubles have a hearing aid. Use of hearing devices is especially low among women, racial and ethnic minorities, and low-income individuals.
Although people with mild to moderate hearing loss will no longer be required to get a hearing exam, a prescription from a doctor for a hearing aid, and visit an audiologist to get a basic hearing aid, those with more severe hearing loss will need advanced and often expensive devices, which require prescriptions.
More info is available on the AARP blog here.