Walmart now sells over-the-counter hearing aids after FDA rule change


New York
CNN Business

Walmart announced Monday that its customers can for the first time buy over-the-counter hearing aids without a prescription or a doctor’s exam.

The move comes shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a long-awaited rule change in August regarding hearing aids.

Instead of getting a prescription, seeing a hearing professional, and having a custom fitting, people with mild to moderate hearing loss will now be able to buy hearing aids directly from a store or online.

OTC hearing aids are available to Walmart shoppers in the United States ages 18 and older “with mild to moderate perceived hearing loss without medical examination or fitting by an audiologist.”

Walmart (WMT) said hearing aid prices range from $199 to $999 a pair, including brands such as Bose-powered Lexie (priced at $849 to $999) and HearX (priced at $199 to $299). $).

“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 live better, healthier lives,” said Dr. John Wigneswaran , chief medical officer at Walmart, in a statement.

The retailer said shoppers can now purchase the OTC hearing aids at Walmart.com and at Walmart Vision Centers in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

Lexie self-adjusting hearing aids powered by Bose (priced at $849).

He plans to make them available to other Walmart vision centers nationwide soon. The company currently operates more than 3,000 vision centers across the country.

About 1 in 8 people in the United States age 12 and older have hearing loss in both ears, and the rate increases dramatically with age. About a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 have hearing loss, and this rises to 50% by age 75.

The FDA said its rule change would make hearing aids much more widely available and much cheaper across the country.

The agency estimates the new rule could result in savings of around $2,800 per pair. Most private insurers do not cover hearing aids, which are not cheap.

Bose-powered Lexie self-adjusting heater aids (priced at $999).

On average, people spend at least $4,000 out of pocket on devices for both ears, according to a 2020 study published in JAMA.

– CNN’s Carma Hassan and Jen Christensen contributed to this story.



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