Over-the-counter hearing aids becoming available

What will this mean for audiologists on the whole?

The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 will soon go into effect, allowing people to purchase hearing aids without an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser acting as a go-between. What will this mean for the audiology profession as a whole?

Under this new arrangement, there will be no guarantee that purchasers with hearing loss will have access to the hearing care services that are often needed to optimize hearing and communication with the devices.

Experts examined data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, which showed beneficiaries who were dually eligible for Medicaid had 41 percent lower odds of using hearing care services and were twice as likely to report having a lot of trouble hearing with their aids, compared to high-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The existing barriers are likely to become even more daunting once the new law goes into effect, leading experts to recommend further coverage of hearing aid services.

Under the Hearing Aid Act, the FDA is required to establish a regulatory framework and processes to allow for the over-the-counter sale of these devices by 2020. Further studies are expected to look at the impact on various patient populations.

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