As audiologists, we know there is a great need in America for hearing aids. It is estimated that about 30 million Americans have age-related hearing loss. For seniors between the ages of 70 and 79 it is estimated that more than half suffer from hearing loss. However, only about 14% use assistive hearing technologies. (Source). Private insurance and Medicare do not completely cover hearing aids and the cost involved is cited as one of the top reasons why so many go without hearing aids.
What does the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 Mean For You?
Legislation was just passed for the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 on August 3, 2017. Now, adults will be able to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids with the FDA regulating the hearing assistance devices. Although this will make hearing aid devices more accessible and more affordable, the purchase and use of a hearing aid without a proper examination, diagnosis, fitting, programming, and counseling may do more harm than good.
Benefits of Purchasing Hearing Aids from a Certified Hearing Care Provider
The severity of hearing loss, how long the person has let the hearing loss go untreated, and their ability to process language all require examination and counseling from a certified hearing care professional. Although, we believe that the industry certainly needs to make hearing aids more affordable, purchasing over-the-counter hearing aids may cost you more in the long run.
Most people don’t realize that wearing inappropriate hearing aids or not wearing hearing aids at all actually has long-term implications on balance, memory, and the ability to understand conversation. That’s why it is important to have an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist work with the patient to provide routine follow-up care and counseling on proper use.
Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids:
- When you purchase hearing aids from a certified hearing care professional, both the earpiece and the device itself are tailored and calibrated to your exact needs. Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists cannot program these OTC devices, so if you or your loved one needs help after purchasing these devices, we will not be able to make necessary changes.
- The OTC approach may put an individual at risk for treating a hearing loss that needed to have medical intervention.
- Many over-the-counter hearing aid devices are not capable of providing the amplification needed to treat certain hearing losses.
- If you purchase hearing aids from an audiology practice, servicing and other follow-up care will typically be “bundled” into the price of the hearing aids.
- Most of all, buying a hearing aid device that does not help (i.e. is not fitted correctly, is not programmed properly, etc.) may lead to frustration and giving up. NOTE: Untreated hearing loss is linked to dementia, depression, social isolation and balance problems.
We urge you to take the time to educate yourself on the options available for hearing loss treatment. Although, certain options may be more affordable, they may not be the way to go. If you would like to speak with an experienced hearing care professional and discuss your available options based off your specific hearing loss needs, contact us today and schedule an appointment.