Finally! Access to better hearing will be easier and at a more affordable cost.
In a recent executive order initiated by President Biden, he stated that “hearing aids are so expensive ($5,000+/pair) that only 14% of approximately 48 million Americans with hearing loss use them.”
With this information, he will instruct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “to consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.”
How Did It Get This Bad?
One in three Americans 65 years and older have a hearing loss, however, only a small percentage of those actually do something about it.
Many believe that it has to do with the cost of hearing devices, but I’ve been in this industry for over 27 years and I have seen firsthand that it has more to do with acceptance.
It takes an average of 7 years for someone who knows they have a hearing problem to do something about it.
In my experience with thousands of patients, I can tell you that, in actual fact, only a handful do not pursue hearing aids because of the cost.
This is mostly because people are not ready to accept that there is a problem, and it’s usually a person’s family member who notices the signs of hearing loss first and encourages them to do something about it.
I’ve seen many family members plead with their loved ones to take care of their hearing issues.
What Does The President’s Executive Order Affect?
Historically, the costs associated with getting hearing aids are for:
- Services needed to make sure the devices are set properly
- Education on the use and care of the devices
- The ongoing maintenance and programming that is required to maximize the hearing experience
In general, people believe that what they are paying for is just hearing aids, but, in reality, they are getting a package deal, which is designed to give them long-lasting care and support.
Although over-the-counter hearing aids will have a much smaller price tag, no service plan, or ongoing support is attached to that pricing, which could prove costly in the long-run.
Although this will be a good thing for the industry as a whole because more people will be able to get hearing aids, they will still need a relationship with a hearing professional to help with ongoing support and care.
OTC Vs. Professionally Prescribed Hearing Aids
- No hearing test required
- Choose own device
- Very limited preset functions
- Preset sound and volume settings
- Learning about its uses and functions and assembly of the unit is left up to you
- Must troubleshoot them yourself
Professional Hearing Aids
- A professional hearing assessment is required to determine the most optimal equipment for your specific needs.
- Your hearing professional will evaluate your needs and select the best device for you based on years of experience.
- You will receive customized functions based on your hearing needs. Your hearing can change over time and traditional hearing aids can change with you. Your hearing professional has the training and experience needed to adjust your hearing aid to suit your changing needs and environments.
- Can be changed to suit your preferences. Some units connect to your cell phone through an app that allows you to make changes yourself.
- Your hearing aid package is explained to you in detail by your hearing professional. They are there to properly assemble your hearing aid and help you with the proper fitting so it is functional and comfortable.
- If you are having issues with your hearing aid, you can always bring it in and we will help you personally. These are very sophisticated pieces of technology, so keeping them up to date is very important.
Most Commonly Asked Questions About Professional Hearing Aids
#1 – Why Is A Hearing Test So Important?
The complete diagnostic hearing evaluation looks at the outer, middle, and inner ear. This helps the hearing professional to determine if something other than hearing aids is necessary, or if there are indications of something more serious such as a tumor on the hearing nerve.
#2 – Why Is The Type Of Hearing Aid You Get So Important?
Different types of hearing loss require different types of hearing devices. The correct style of hearing aid plays an important part in the outcome and satisfaction with the device.
#3 – Why Are Functions In The Hearing Aids Important?
Sometimes people need to hear differently in different environments. For example, a basketball coach has a different set of needs to someone in a nursing home. Professionals can set hearing aids up with different programs for different people.
#4 – Why Is The Correct Sound Important?
Most people hear different pitches at different volumes. For example, someone can have good hearing at the low pitches and bad hearing at the high pitches.
Hearing aids can be programmed based on the type and degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids off the shelf can over or under amplify the hearing loss.
#5 – Why Is A Properly Fitted Hearing Aid Important?
The length of the tube is important for a proper fit. The type and degree of hearing loss require certain types of pieces that fit in the ear. Professionals are trained to know what is best.
#6 – Why Is Maintenance Important?
Wax is the enemy of hearing aids. The parts and pieces that go in the ear can become clogged or damaged.
Professionally cleaned hearing aids last longer and provide better sound quality.
When a hearing aid is not working, the professional is trained to determine where the problem is coming from and if it can be fixed in-house, or if the device needs to be sent away for repair.
Your Hearing Is Number One
Of course, whether you choose to buy an OTC device, or opt for the professional route, better hearing is the ultimate goal, however, to use a well-known analogy, it’s up to you whether you want to achieve this goal in a Ford or a Mercedes.
Even if you do purchase an OTC device, I cannot stress enough the importance of a relationship with a hearing professional and regular hearing assessments.