Over-the-counter hearing aids available in the US for the first time
For the first time, hearing aids are available for purchase over-the-counter at retailers across the United States.
Starting Monday, under a landmark ruling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adults with mild to moderate hearing loss can buy hearing aids in a store or online without a prescription, review medical or fitting by an audiologist – and for thousands of dollars less than they used to cost, according to the White House.
The FDA estimates the new rule could reduce average hearing aid costs by up to $3,000 per pair, the White House said. Consumers are expected to save approximately $1,400 per individual hearing aid, or more than $2,800 per pair.
“A person’s ‘overall health’ is a combination of many factors, including hearing, that influence physical and mental well-being,” Walmart’s chief medical officer Dr. John Wigneswaran said in a statement Monday. a statement. “Providing easy access to over-the-counter hearing aids – something that seems quite small – is a solution that can improve our customers’ health outcomes and their ability to lead healthier, better lives.”
Walgreens now sells hearing aids in stores nationwide and online for $799 a pair. Walmart also offers an assortment of over-the-counter hearing aids — ranging in price from $199 to $999 per pair — at Walmart.com, SamsClub.com, and more than 1,000 Vision Centers in Walmart stores across Colorado, of Michigan and Missouri. , Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, as well as 474 Sam’s Club hearing aid centers. CVS now sells over-the-counter hearing aids online, with various model and price options. The company will also offer hearing aids at select CVS Pharmacy locations starting in November, according to the White House.
Best Buy will carry nearly 20 different hearing aids online starting this week. By the end of the month, the company will offer hearing aids in nearly 300 stores across the country. The devices will cost between $200 and $3,000.
Hy-Vee will sell over-the-counter hearing aids online and in 34 locations across Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin starting this week. The company plans to offer hearing aids in 100 locations by the end of the year. There will be four different models ranging in price from $499.99 to $999.99, according to the White House.
The FDA announced the return in August, issuing a final ruling that established a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids to improve access and, therefore, lower costs for millions of Americans. The decision followed an executive order from President Joe Biden in 2021 that called on the FDA to take action to allow the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids.
“The new over-the-counter category applies to select air conduction hearing aids, intended for adults ages 18 and older who have perceived mild to moderate hearing loss,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological from the FDA. Health, said during a briefing on August 16. “Hearing aids for severe hearing loss or for users under the age of 18 will be prescription devices, to ensure patient safety as well as effectiveness.”
Air conduction hearing aids are worn inside the ear or over the ear, with an in-ear component and amplified sound in the ear canal. In an effort to prevent further hearing loss, these devices will have sound limitations, the FDA said.
Nearly 30 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, including nearly 10 million adults under age 60, according to the White House.
Emma Egan is an MPH candidate at Brown University and a contributor to the ABC Medical Unit.