Over-the-counter hearing aids available in stores and online for the first time

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The long-awaited over-the-counter, prescription-free hearing aids are now available for anyone to buy. The Biden administration announced the change which it claims will cut costs by thousands of dollars for those who can’t afford prescription hearing aids.

“Ultimately we’re excited because it’s going to give a lot of people more access to hearing aids that may not have had otherwise,” Director of Audiology at Rochester Hearing & Speech Center Dr. Gregory Horton said.

Major U.S. retailers like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Best Buy are now selling lower-cost hearing aids without a prescription or medical exam.

“Only about 20 percent of people that could benefit from hearing aids actually have pursued them and have been fitted with them,” Horton said. “And a lot of it has had to do with the cost. So this is going to potentially drive prices down a little bit.”

President Biden said the FDA estimates this is going to save patients as much as $3,000 per pair, but Dr. Horton said just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

“We are strongly recommending that even if you’re considering one of these devices, go see a professional to get a diagnostic hearing test,” Dr. Horton said. “First of all, we want to make sure that you even qualify for these devices.”

Former president of the Hearing Loss Association of Rochester Art Maurer echoes that warning.

“This gives you a lot of power to be able to hear through, you know, the telephone and so forth right into your ear, and this little thing here is the hearing aid, and that has all these features in it. So the question is, what features do you want and how much are you willing to pay for it?” Maurer said.

Maurer said this is only for consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss.

“We’re urging people to look at a trial period. We’re recommending 45 days. Some people are saying 30 days, but a full refund trial period and that refund should be in cash, not credit,” Maurer said.

Dr. Horton also said that if you get these, you can go to their office to get tests to make sure they’re working properly for you.

Maurer said the HLAA will post detailed information and tips here, that you should know before you buy.