According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, an estimated 48 million Americans have some form of hearing loss. But only about 20% of people who would benefit from a hearing aid use one.
Traditionally they were expensive. A typical pair of hearing aids in the US costs between $2,000 and $8,000, including fitting fees and aftercare. But a recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration allowing the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids could improve access for millions.
The new devices, for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, cost just $199 and are available from retailers such as: best buy, CV and Walmart.
Starkey, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hearing aids, is also planning an over-the-counter offering. Dubbed the Start Hearing One, the device will launch towards the end of 2022 and will cost $899 per pair.
Stavros Basseas, co-founder and chief technology officer of manufacturer Sound World Solutions, said: “The hope is that the new category in this country will have a huge effect of lowering the price, not only of the over-the-counter hearing aids, which will be low, but also for conventional hearing aids.”
Over-the-counter hearing aids could help demographics beyond America’s aging population. As more people listen to music and watch videos tied to their smartphones, hearing loss is affecting younger generations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 6 US teens have some measurable hearing loss, likely the result of excessive noise exposure.
So why are hearing aids so expensive and what impact will over-the-counter devices have on people with hearing impairments?
Watch the video to learn more.