Consumers will start to see cheaper hearing aids on shelves: White House

Consumers will find cheaper hearing aids at major drugstores, Walmart and other retailers on Monday as a bipartisan effort to sell the devices over-the-counter takes effect, the White House said.

Walgreens will sell pairs for $799, a bargain over expert-recommended models costing between $2,000 and $8,000, the administration said in a fact sheet.

Walmart will offer hearing aids at more than 1,000 of its Vision Centers in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, and nearly 500 Sam’s Club locations for $199 at $999 a pair.

The deals stem from a Food and Drug Administration rule that allowed people with mild to moderate hearing loss to buy hearing aids without a prescription, exam or audiologist fitting.

President Biden is touting the rule, which stems from an FDA reauthorization bill under the Trump administration, as part of efforts to spur market competition and cut costs.

The Biden administration says nearly 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and could benefit from over-the-counter aids that are estimated to be $3,000 cheaper than those ordered by specialists in some cases.

CVS, Best Buy and Hy-Vee are among the chains that will stock the items, according to the White House fact sheet.

The senses. Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley and Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren were vocal champions of over-the-counter hearing aids, pointing to bipartisan support for the idea.

Over-the-counter devices are intended for people 18 and older. According to the FDA, minors and people with severe hearing loss will need to seek out prescription devices.

Officials say people with ear malformations or pain and discomfort may need to seek specialist help instead of going straight to the store to fix mild hearing loss.


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