Have you heard of the over-the-counter Hearing Aid Act that is currently advancing through the US congress? This legislation is anticipated to pass and would make certain types of hearing aids available over-the-counter to Americans with mild to moderate hearing impairment. Additionally, it would require the FDA to write regulations ensuring that this new category of OTC hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as all medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.
An estimated 17 percent of American adults report having some form of hearing loss. Nearly half of adults ages 75 years and older have hearing loss. It is estimated that only 20% of people who have hearing loss and would benefit from hearing aids actually wear them.
In a paper by Samuel Trychin, Ph.D. outlining 18 reasons why people hesitate to wear hearing aids, cost and convenience are among the top 5 reasons. Over-the-counter hearing aids are available starting at a few hundred dollars, whereas regulated hearing aids can cost in the thousands. They are also convenient in the sense that, while an appointment with a hearing specialist is recommended, it wouldn’t be required.
Supporters of the Act include the Hearing Loss Association of America, AARP, and American Doctors of Audiology. Given vast evidence for a wide range of ailments attributed to untreated hearing loss, making hearing aids more affordable and convenient makes sense to them. While some Audiologist and Hearing Instrument Specialists criticize the bill stating the risk of missing more serious diagnosis, or getting the wrong product is too high, proponents believe that self-diagnosis and treatment is better than no diagnosis and treatment.
Written By Suzanne Robbins, Marketing Manager