New Rule Allows Americans To Buy Hearing Aids Without A Prescription
Our hearing is precious, and it’s also one of the senses that will, for most of us, deteriorate with age. Most people need a little help hearing well in their later years, but until recently, getting aid has meant doctor’s appointments and forking over a good amount of cash.
No longer, though, because soon you’re going to be able to get one (or more) over-the-counter.
Thanks to a US Food and Drug Administration (USDA) ruling that’s being hailed as “historic,” it should be both cheaper and easier for Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss to get hearing aids in the near future.
Xavier Becerra, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, issued a statement on this Biden-Harris administration agenda item.
“Reducing health care costs in America has been a priority of mine since Day One and this rule is expected to help us achieve quality, affordable health care access for millions of Americans in need. Today’s action by the USDA represents a significant milestone in making hearing aids more cost-effective and accessible.”
This is a big deal because while an estimated 30 million US adults could benefit from using a hearing aid, only around 14% of those people actually get the aid they need to hear properly.
One big hurdle is, of course, money; right now, hearing aids and exams are not covered by Medicare – and they’re often not covered by private health insurance, either.
Now, people who want one will not need a medical exam, and the move should drop the price of the hearing aids themselves as well.
Right now, there are a “Big 5” hearing aid manufacturers who control more than 90% of the market, so the Biden administration hopes this ruling will end that monopoly and create a more competitive market.
“This action makes good on my commitment to lower costs for American families, delivering nearly $3000 in savings to American families for a pair of hearing aids and giving people more choices to improve their health and well being…and it’s the latest action we are taking to make our economy more competitive and less concentrated. When too few companies dominate, American consumers pay higher costs.”
We won’t have to wait long to see whether or not the change alters the market in any significant way – it’s set to go into effect mid-October of 2022.