Well here’s some good news for us baby boomers, we may soon be able to buy hearing aids in the OTC aisles of your favorite drug store. A hearing aid category specific to the over-the-counter arena was signed into law in August; all that remains to be created is the regulatory framework. There is already a company called IHear who is producing an OTC hearing aid, which will be sold via a kiosk in the store which will test your hearing and then find you the appropriate hearing aid for your hearing loss.
My dad suffered from hearing loss later in life and while he was reluctant at first he finally gave in and was fitted for hearing aids through a company that came into his nursing home. They cost upwards of $2000.00 per ear, although I think Medicare may have covered a portion of it if I recall correctly. Regardless, it always bothered me that it could cost that much for a tiny device which received sounds and amplified them, when you consider how much a big-screen TV or a laptop computer sells for, as those devices certainly do a lot more! It seemed certain there was some price-gouging going on.
It appears that opening up the market to OTC sales will end that practice. According to Drugstorenews.com, the average price of an OTC hearing aid will be around $300 per ear. Still pricey, but quite a bit less than the prescription ones. And no, these aren’t the old fashioned over-the-ear models, they’re the ones that go inside the ear and are barely visible.
IHear has already been FDA approved for a take-home hearing test and there are already early adopters ready to sell their units in the next month or so. Maybe there’s something that will actually help improve the declining front-end business in chain drug stores (and possibly other retailers as well.)
You can read more about the home test and hearing aids here.