Clark Howard

Hearing Aids Will Soon Be Sold Over The Counter

If you or a family member wears hearing aids, or if you've ever considered getting them, you're probably aware of how expensive they are. Fortunately, thanks to a new rule from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which allows hearing aids to be sold over the counter, those prices are about to drop.

In this article, I'll take a close look at how this change will affect hearing aid prices, how the process for buying hearing aids will change and why money expert Clark Howard considers this a huge win for consumers.

Hearing Aids Will Become More Affordable

Hearing aid prices in the United States have always been ridiculously high. In fact, while hearing aids may cost as little as $200 per pair elsewhere in the world, we've had a completely different system here that led to our high prices: around $2,691 per pair on average — and usually not covered by health insurance.

However, on August 16, 2022, the FDA finally cleared the way for over-the-counter sales of hearing aids.

“The cost of hearing aids in the United States is higher by far than any other country on Earth because of our weird system of distribution that, thank goodness, is coming to an end,” says money expert Clark Howard. “So the prices have been trending down, but now they will basically collapse over the next year.”

Clark says that he's been excited about this for a while because these new rules for hearing aids were supposed to go into effect two years ago. But there was a stall in writing the regulations, and no one was sure exactly when it would actually happen. Now, we know it's going to happen this fall.

With this new FDA rule, many sellers of electronics in the United States are going to be able to sell high-quality hearing aids at a fraction of their current costs. This is a great opportunity for individuals who are looking to replace their hearing aids as well as individuals who have never had the opportunity to try hearing aids because of the high prices.

You can expect to start seeing affordable hearing aid options available over the counter as soon as October.

How To Shop for Hearing Aids Now 

Now that you’re going to start seeing more affordable options for hearing aids, it may be difficult to decide which ones you should purchase. This is one of the only downfalls of this new ruling.

“This is going to set off a free-for-all, and some of it’s not going to be good,” warns Clark. “A lot of devices will come into the marketplace that will not be of good quality. And just because you’re free to buy them without a prescription, don’t just buy on price alone.

While it’s going to be great to see lower prices on quality hearing aids, it’s important that you still make sure you’re getting what you need.

You'll no longer have to visit a doctor and get a prescription to purchase hearing aids, but you should still have a professional check out your hearing. Only a professional is able to diagnose the root of your hearing loss and make sure that you don't have a condition that's could lead to full deafness.

Clark notes that the old system in the U.S. forced consumers to buy hearing aids at prices that were massively marked up; then you got the services of a hearing professional for "free." Now, you'll pay for that the same way you would for any other professional service.

“This is a massive improvement in how the marketplace will work because you will go to the expert and find out exactly what you need, and then you’ll be able to buy it at free market prices wherever you wish.”

Once you know what you need from a hearing aid and have a clear picture of your hearing health, you’ll be able to purchase replacements at a fraction of current costs.

Final Thoughts

This news is worth celebrating! As hearing aids become available to sell over the counter, you can expect to see great, affordable options hitting the shelves from major electronics sellers as soon as October.

In addition to more options and easier access to hearing aids, you can expect to see the prices of hearing aids drop drastically. Clark predicts that, instead of marked-up prices from prescription retailers, competitive pricing will follow the increase in supply.

“This is an absolute, complete victory for consumers, for the American people and for the tens of millions of Americans who have not done anything about getting hearing aids because they flat out couldn’t afford them until now.”

Of course, as with anything health-related, hearing aids aren't something you should shop for based on price alone. Instead, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional to determine what you should look for in a hearing aid as well as how to best combat your hearing loss.

If you’re shopping for a replacement hearing aid or thinking about trying out hearing aids for the first time, my advice is to wait until this new ruling goes into effect in October. You may be able to save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

However, if you are shopping for the most affordable hearing aids in the meantime, check out our roundup of the six best places to buy a hearing aid as well as five things to know before you buy a hearing aid from Costco.

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