Choosing a hearing aid is not easy, especially if your options are limited by product type or price.
Fortunately, athis can expand the options available to you.
Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss can nowat dramatically lower prices, giving millions more affordable devices to choose from, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Previously, customers had to have a prescription from an audiologist or other hearing care professional to make such a purchase.
Bipartisan legislation to create a category of over-the-counter hearing aids was originally passed in 2017, but the rule has just changed.
“Reducing health care costs in America has been a priority of mine since day one and this rule should help us gain access to affordable, quality health care for millions of Americans in need,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. release, calling the rule an “important milestone” in making hearing aids more accessible to the public.
If you’re looking for a new hearing aid and want to buy one online, start shopping now.
How to choose the best over-the-counter hearing aids
The exact number of Americans who need hearing aids is unclear. Each organization has its own way of reporting and tracking this information. However, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates – based on data collected by the annual National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) – that approximately 28.8 million American adults could benefit from the use of ‘hearing aids.
Although not required, it is always recommended to speak with a licensed audiologist and consider getting a quick medical exam to help determine your exact hearing aid needs.
If you’re ready to buy new hearing aids but still want a quick consultation with a professional, consider using an online service like Lively. You start with a quick online hearing test, browse the site to find a high-quality hearing aid, place your order, and Lively will program them to your needs and ship them right to your door. It’s that simple. Start now.
In order to choose the best over-the-counter hearing aid, review these five steps.
1. Determine the style
First, determine which style (size, type, etc.) is best for you. Do you want a completely in-the-ear hearing aid, in-the-ear (ITC) hearing aid, in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids (RIC) or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE), an open fit or something else? Consider your choices carefully.
The Mayo Clinic offers in-depth reviews of each style along with an image showing how each device will fit. You can also go to the National Council on Aging website to see the pros and cons of each style and cut.
“Hearing aids vary widely in price, size, special features, and how they fit in your ear,” the Mayo Clinic explains online. “Hearing aid designers continue to make smaller hearing aids to meet the demand for hearing aids that are not very noticeable. But smaller devices may not have the power to give you the Hearing improvement you expect.”
2. Examine the features
You will want to carefully consider the features and functionality of each hearing aid. The Mayo Clinic suggests looking for the following: noise reduction, rechargeable batteries, wireless connection, synchronization (if using two hearing aids), telecoils, directional microphones, remote control, etc.
3. Ask for a trial period
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Many hearing aids come with trial periods, where you can test out the device and see if it will work for you long term.
“Ask the distributor to put in writing the cost of a trial, whether this amount is credited to the final cost of the hearing aid and how much is refundable if you return the hearing aid during the trial period,” advises the Mayo Clinic.
4. Check a warranty
Likewise, you’ll want to consider getting a warranty in the event the device malfunctions or doesn’t work as expected.
5. Compare costs
Finally, the cost of the device is still to be taken into account. You don’t want a hearing aid to break the bank. Be sure to shop around and do your research. Compare brands, services, products and prices to determine the best hearing aid you can afford.
It’s always wise to double-check your insurance policy to see if it will cover some of all costs.
“Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids for adults. In many states, private insurers are required to pay for hearing aids for children. Medical Assistance covers hearing aids in most states. If you are a veteran, you may be able to obtain your hearing aid at no cost through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA),” adds the Mayo Clinic.