Only about one-in-five people who would benefit from using a hearing aid are using one. With 30 million Americans who are hearing impaired, allowing those with hearing impairments easier access to hearing aids could benefit millions.
“Hearing loss of such a private thing,” said Dr. Janice Trent, owner of Hearing Healthcare Services. “It's an invisible disorder, and people don't always want others to know that they have a hearing loss. So I think starting out this will be a great way for people to try it out and see, whether or not they actually get a benefit from it.”
The hearing aids you'll see in pharmacies starting next week are for adults who believe they have mild to moderate hearing loss.
You can get the device without an exam and you can fit them on your own.
But there will be some trial and error.
“Hearing aids take a little bit of time to get adjusted to. Now, when you put on a pair of glasses, you often get your vision corrected to 2020. Hearing aids are great. They help, but your brain needs time to adjust. You're getting sounds amplified that you might not have heard before,” said Dr. Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America.
The Food and Drug Administration didn't mandate a return policy on the devices. That means you need to check the label beforehand to ensure that specific devices can be returned.
Many of these devices will cost under $1,000 and some insurance companies will cover them.
Medicare doesn't pay for hearing aids, but several medicare advantage plans do. Any hearing aids you get over the counter should last about 5 to 6 years.