OTC hearing aids in the US: more reactions


over the counter hearing aids
© Jean Scheijen - www.vierdrie.nl

The rare bipartisan (Democrat-Republican) push from lawmakers that is aimed at reducing regulations on the sale of hearing aids is putting the spotlight on this area of healthcare in a new way.

The Boston Globe reports on both sides of the debate, pointing out what advocates hope the new buying environment for hearing aids would mean, as well as the concerns of those who are less favorable, in particular hearing aid manufacturers and professional audiologists.

Supporters believe the new legislation, which would supersede individual state rules and allow over-the-counter hearing aids on the national market, could lower prices, increase innovation, and ultimately enable far more people to get hearing aids. A commonly reported estimate is that only 15% to 30% of people who need hearing aids actually obtain them. Although stigma and a confusing purchasing environment may play a role in these numbers, cost is the main obstacle – over USD 2300 on average.

On the other side of the debate, hearing aid manufacturers and groups representing audiologists have concerns about the new proposed measure. They do not believe that the bill would necessarily lead to more people actually using hearing aids. They also warn that it could be dangerous to encourage people to self-diagnose hearing loss and the extent of their hearing loss. “We don’t ask them to do that for diabetes or hypertension. We always want to have medical professionals involved,” said Neil DiSarno from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a trade organization for audiologists.

Source: Boston Globe.