Everything You Need to Know About Buying Hearing Aids Over-the-Counter
In August 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved new guidance that allows hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter, instead of only via prescription. This regulatory change will help expand the availability of assistive devices in the United States and make hearing aids financially accessible for a broader range of customers. Learn more about over-the-counter hearing aids from Horizon Audiology, Inc., providing hearing care to people throughout central New Jersey.
What Are Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids?
Like prescription hearing aids, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids help individuals with hearing loss by amplifying sound. However, OTC hearing aids are generally recommended for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. Individuals with severe hearing loss and communication issues likely will need prescription hearing aids instead. OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription devices.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
While a prescription was previously required for any type of hearing aid, individuals can now shop for OTC hearing aids online or in stores. Because these devices are available without a prescription, a customer doesn’t necessarily need to see an audiologist before selecting a hearing aid. Some people prefer the convenience of shopping for OTC hearing aids at a big box store or even online from the comfort of their own homes. OTC hearing aids are designed for individuals with mild or moderate hearing problems, so patients with more significant hearing loss likely will need prescription hearing aids instead. OTC hearing aids are designed only for adults – children with hearing loss must have their hearing aids prescribed and fitted by a trained audiologist. It’s important to note that OTC hearing aids should not be confused with personal amplifiers. These are basic listening devices that have been commercially available for years. However, they’re not a good fit for most people with hearing loss.
Who Should Purchase Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids?
OTC hearing aids are approved for use in adults who are 18 or older. Unlike traditional prescription hearing aids, OTC hearing aids do not require a prescription. They can be purchased online or in person at a retail store or pharmacy. The user will need to set up the device themselves and fit it to their ear. These hearing aids work best for adults whose mild hearing loss affects their daily life, which might include:
- Difficulty hearing on the telephone
- Regularly turning up the volume on the TV or radio
- Difficulty hearing conversation with background noise
Children cannot use OTC hearing aids as they require prescription devices that an audiologist can monitor and adjust as their hearing develops.
How Does the Buying Process Work?
As of October 2022, individuals can buy OTC hearing aids online, in stores, and at doctor’s offices. Patients who are considering buying an OTC hearing aid can expect to pay between $300 and $600, although prices vary, and new devices are coming on the market regularly.
While patients do not need a prescription to purchase OTC hearing aids, it is a wise idea to get a hearing exam from an audiologist beforehand. An audiologist can assess a patient’s level of hearing loss and recommend the best type of device to assist them. Hearing tests are usually covered by insurance.
Keep these considerations in mind when researching OTC hearing aid options:
- What is the return policy?
- How long is the hearing aid’s battery life?
- Can the amplification level be adjusted?
- Is the hearing aid water and sweat-resistant?
- Is the hearing aid compatible with a smartphone?
- Is the hearing aid covered by a warranty?
Patients should also check with their insurance provider to verify whether their plan covers the cost of an assistive device. Some patients can use their health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for OTC hearing aids.
It takes time to adjust to a hearing device. Each patient is different, so a brand that works for one person may not be the best fit for another. An audiologist can also help with fitting a device to a patient’s ear and adjusting the amplification levels to find the best settings and fit.
Get in Touch With Horizon Audiology, Inc.
Horizon Audiology, Inc. is committed to helping each patient find hearing solutions that work for them. The experienced team of audiologists and hearing specialists serves patients of all ages with comprehensive diagnostic services, as well as hearing aid equipment maintenance and repairs. With locations in East Windsor and Pennington, NJ, Horizon Audiology, Inc. serves patients throughout central New Jersey. To learn more about over-the-counter hearing aids or getting a hearing test, contact the team or complete an appointment request today.