Buying Your Hearing Aids Over The Counter Is No Longer A Pipe Dream

It seems weird to me that, even though we’ve been able to buy reading glasses at the drug store for years, people have never been able to do the same for hearing aids.

Some form of hearing loss comes part and parcel with getting older, just like not being able to see up close, so what’s the difference?

I suppose the answer that always works is money, but since over-the-counter hearing aids are now a thing, it seems the powers that be have worked something out.

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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.

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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.”

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We’re still waiting to hear whether or not the changes have significantly affected the market, but either way, people are happier and hearing better.

Personally, I don’t see how this isn’t a win.