Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: Unexpected downside to over-the-counter hearing aids

Posted at 7:50 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 07:50:22-04

In about a month, people dealing with hearing loss will be able to buy hearing aids over the counter without a prescription. This means hearing aids will be more accessible. But a doctor says there may be a surprising downside to the FDA's announcement.

As of right now, only 30 percent of people who need hearing aids actually use them.

"I've always had hearing issues, significant hearing loss in the higher registers," Kurt Sevits said. "I can't hear a lot of high-pitched noises."

He said for a long time, he knew there were things he was missing. Until four years ago, he couldn't afford to get hearing aids. He said he'd need to pay about $5,000 out of pocket.

"A lot of insurance plans don't cover them, especially for adults," Dr. Michael Iliff, and Audiologist, said.

He said overall, the FDA's announcement is a good thing. But he said there is a potential downside — people might try to self-manage what they may think are mild or moderate hearing problems themselves.

"There needs to be a diagnosis, a hearing evaluation. Most insurance covers that. Then you're making sure if you have something medically going on, something that needs to be treated by surgery or medication, or even devices that are more sophisticated. We want to be able to give people those options," Dr. Iliff said.

For people 18 and older who are just starting to experience mild or moderate hearing loss, an over-the-couter hearing aid could open up a whole new world of hearing, just like it did for Sevits.

"I really hope it kind of gets the conversation going about hearing aids and coverage for them, and how challenging it could be to get them," Sevits said.

"This will help give people a lower cost device so they can start to improve their hearing and their quality of life," Dr. Iliff said.