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Over-the-counter hearing aids now available to purchase in the U.S.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Hearing aids are now easier to come by for those who suffer mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

For the first time, a hearing aid can be purchased in-store or online without the need for a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist.

Audiologist Dr. Cindy Modrosic said a prescription is still a better option for those who suffer from severe hearing loss.

"It's not going to be very beneficial and it's going to be a waste of money not savings," Modrosic said. "People with more hearing loss will get them and say, 'Oh hearing aids don't work.' Meanwhile, it wasn't; it's that the hearing aid wasn't working appropriately for them."

The change follows a new rule from the Food and Drug Administration unveiled in August. The easier access to hearing aids is expected to lower costs, as part of the Biden Administration's goal to expand access to healthcare and lower healthcare costs, according to an FDA news release announcing the decision.

Adults who suffer from hearing loss on average spend at least $4,000 out-of-pocket for hearing devices for both ears, according to a 2020 study published in the medical journal JAMA.

Some models of the devices are priced as low as $200 per pair and are available -- or will be available soon -- at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Best Buy and Hy-Vee, The White House said Monday.

The over-the-counter price is significantly lower than patients have been paying for hearing aids. However, Medicare and health insurance do not typically cover the cost.

Before making an over-the-counter purchase, health experts say there are some things you should keep in mind like getting a hearing test first.

"The importance of professional opinion by an audiologist, we are searching for things such as your ears being different, mechanical issues with the hearing that need to be referred to an ear nose and throat physician," Modrosic said.

The FDA"s new rule leaves the return policy up the stores.

"Talk to an audiologist to see what brans they recommend some audiologist might carry them in the office and can help you with them," Modrosic said.

Health experts claim you should also make sure the packaging says "over-the-counter" on it. and if it doesn't its not FDA approved.

Children younger than 18 years old who suffer from hearing loss will still need a prescription.

Article Topic Follows: News

Erika McGuire

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