WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Over-the-counter hearing aids are now available at retailers across the U.S. for the first time.
- The lower-cost hearing aids can be purchased without a prescription or medical exam and at a lower cost.
- The FDA says the new Biden administration ruling could lower average costs for hearing aids by as much as $3,000 per pair.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are available at major U.S. retailers for the first time starting Monday, Oct. 17.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss can buy hearing aids at a physical store or online without a prescription, medical exam or audiologist fitting. In addition, the over-the-counter device costs less than they previously cost, per the White House.
The White House added that the new ruling could lower average costs for hearing aids by as much as $3,000 per pair, according to FDA estimates. Savings per individual hearing aid could be up to $1,400 or more than $2,800 per pair.
The hearing aids are available at Walgreens stores nationwide and online for $799 per pair. Hearing aids at Walmart — on Walmart.com, SamsClub.com and in more than 1,000 Vision Centers in Walmart stores — range in price from $199 to $999 per pair.
CVS is also offering OTC hearing aids online, with several models and price ranges. CVS will soon offer hearing aids in select CVS Pharmacy locations starting next month. Best Buy will sell about 20 different hearing devices online beginning this week with prices between $200 and $3,000. Hy-Vee will also offer over-the-counter hearing aids online and in its several locations across the country with four different models ranging in price from $499.99 to $999.99, the White House announced.
In August, the FDA announced the final ruling that created a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids to make them more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans. The ruling followed an executive order from President Joe Biden in 2021 that called for the FDA to take steps to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter.
“The new over-the-counter category applies to certain air conduction hearing aids, intended for adults aged 18 and older who have perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in August. “Hearing aids for severe hearing loss or for users younger than age 18 will be prescription devices, to assure patient safety as well as effectiveness.”
In the U.S., about 30 million people experience some degree of hearing loss, including almost 10 million adults under the age of 60, the White House said.