The FDA is working to provide over the counter hearing aids for individuals with minor hearing loss

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We look at the possibility of over-the-counter hearing aids as part of our monthly AARP sponsored segment that highlights issues of importance to older adults in Arizona. The FDA is working to make it easier to buy hearing aids “without” a prescription, which could cut costs and improve access for a lot of people. We learned more from Dr. Kristin Samuelson, the Director of ASU’s Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Right now before obtaining a hearing aid, “what you really need is a hearing test to determine what level of hearing loss you have and up until this point, you would go to an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist to get that special kind of testing done and that’s what we’ve determined what kind of device you need,” Samuelson said.

The new steps being taken by the FDA won’t necessarily take over the need for a prescription-type hearing aid but they are proposing a new category of direct-to-consumer hearing instruments.

“The hearing test itself is quite often covered by a person’s insurance, their health insurance, and oftentimes health insurance will cover the hearing aids as well but…hearing tests can be anywhere from $50 to $200 maybe depending on how many tests need to be done….hearing aids can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 again depending on what the person needs, how sophisticated they need the hearing aids to be, there’s a whole variety out there of what people can be fitted with,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson continued that these specific hearing aids are being proposed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. And those with severe hearing loss along with children would definitely still need to see a hearing healthcare professional to get these aids fitted.

This comes to the issue that people may not know what hearing loss they have unless they get tested.

Dr. Kristin Samuelson, Director of Speech & Hearing Clinic, ASU

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