More affordable OTC hearing aids are here—here’s what you need to know.
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GETTING HEARING AIDS TYPICALLY MEANS multiple trips to an audiologist and many thousands of dollars of expense.
But for most Americans with hearing loss—those whose condition is mild to moderate—new U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines are making affordable over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids a reality. This is good news for millions.
Here are a few things to know:
- A 2022 hearingtracker.com price survey found that hearing aids cost on average over $5,000 a pair. So far, most OTC models cost less than half that.
- In place of the in-person services of a hearing specialist, some OTC products rely on telehealth visits and online or smartphone hearing tests. Fitting and amplification adjustment can take multiple tries with time between to adapt, so choose a product with a generous trial period.
- Hearing aids typically only last three to five years, and OTC products may carry shorter warranties.
OTC hearing aids aren’t for everyone. If your hearing loss is more than moderate—difficulty conversing even in quiet environments—or if you need help choosing, fitting, and adjusting yours, you need to see a professional. But the new OTC options may be right for those with low-level hearing loss who have the ability and patience to make adjustments on their own.
All hearing aids are an important purchase—start your research with the Hearing Loss Association of America’s OTC tip sheet at hearingloss.org.