Earlier this year, Congress passed a bill called the “Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017.” The bill allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to categorize certain hearing aids as being able to be sold over the counter, in person, via mail, or online without a prescription or audiogram. The FDA must establish regulations as to the safely and efficacy of these hearing aids as well as the specifications of such devices. Read more here
The primary purpose of this bill is to provide an affordable option to those who suffer mild hearing loss. At this moment, the most affordable option for persons with mild hearing loss are Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), which are to hearing aids what reading glasses are to prescription glasses. They work well for very specific circumstances, but are not seen as true solutions to hearing loss.
Once the FDA determines the new standards for OTC hearing aids, it is anticipated that the consumer will be able to purchase true hearing aids without having to see an audiologist beforehand. This is likely to end up saving consumers a significant amount of time and money. However, it is not yet known how consumers will be able to test these hearing aids or receive instructions and assistance in adjusting them.
As anyone who wears both glasses and hearing aids knows, these are not the same thing. With glasses once you put them on you see better or you do not. With hearing aids, often you need to get used to them for awhile, and you also need to learn to adjust them in different environments. Moreover, OTC glasses are better for some conditions than others. For example, they are better for improving reading than improving distance vision.
Although the law has passed, it will be some time before the law is implemented to the point of there being sufficient available options and it is always important to make sure you are in good hearing health. It is also important to keep in mind that each individual’s hearing loss is different and many over the counter options will be more universal, therefore making them less unique and less effective for many people.
While new options will become available, in the mean time we at Hearing Wisdom are offering customized hearing aids at very affordable prices already. You can visit us online at hearingwisdom.com to find out more about our products and our services.
To sum things up, the Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is a well-received act that will improve accessibility to affordable hearing aid options for all. However, it will still be some time before these options will be made available. And we do not yet know the scope of the products that will become available.
At Hearing Wisdom, we feel like you shouldn’t need to break the bank to get high quality hearing aids, so we are excited to see how this law will impact consumer choices in the future. In the meantime, we are always available as an option for affordable hearing aids, even before this new piece of legislation takes effect.