The hearing health care industry is changing rapidly. From technological advances in diagnosis and hearing loss solutions to hearing aid accessibility itself, hearing healthcare professionals are racing to keep up and continue to serve patients at the highest level.
This shift has become even more apparent with the recent approval of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids.
What are over-the-counter hearing aids?
The number of Americans diagnosed with hearing loss continues to grow and with it the demand for more affordable and accessible hearing loss treatments. Specifically, hearing aids. This is where OTC hearing aids are changing the way hearing healthcare providers connect and serve clients.
OTC hearing aids came on the scene thanks to the OTC Hearing Aid Act passed by Congress in 2017. This legislation approved the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These readily available devices do not require a hearing healthcare provider to purchase and offer some of the same functionality as traditional hearing aids.
While they are often believed to be a more affordable option for treating hearing loss, the sticker price doesn’t tell the whole story.
Before OTC hearing aids
Hearing loss can be as unique as the person it affects, and if you ask any expert, the treatment for it should be too. In the past, this was generally the case. An individual would go in for a routine hearing evaluation and receive a diagnosis of hearing loss. From there, the hearing aid provider or audiologist would help identify the best solutions to treat that hearing loss, often a hearing aid with just the right features for the individual’s hearing loss. Fittings and adjustments would be scheduled to ensure the best fit and function. Any ongoing adjustments would often be included in the cost, and trial periods may even be available to make sure the hearing aid was the best choice.
This partnership between customer and hearing healthcare professionals to find and implement the best solution for an individual’s hearing loss was the standard. This isn’t always the case now that OTC hearing aids offer a lower up-front cost.
Pros and cons of OTC hearing aids
If you’ve looked into hearing aids, it’s no secret that the sticker price of traditional hearing aids can be much higher than that of OTC hearing aids. That can be a huge selling point for those on a tighter budget who are committed to treating their hearing loss.
However, there may be much more to consider than the sticker price.
The cost of OTC hearing aids may not include the same services as those of traditional hearing aids discussed above, including:
- Hearing evaluation
- Hearing aid fittings and ongoing adjustments
- Guidance on choosing the best hearing aid with the features you need
- Counseling on how to use and maintain the hearing aid
These services offered by hearing healthcare professionals can make all the difference in how well the hearing aids work, how comfortable they are, and how likely someone is to continue using the hearing aids.
The bottom line is that treating hearing loss is about more than a price tag. The right guidance, diagnosis, and options can make all the difference.
If you believe you have hearing loss or would like to discuss your options for treating hearing loss, contact our office to schedule an appointment.