This past week, the Food and Drug Administration finally took the commonsense step to allow patients to buy hearing aids over the counter (OTC), or without a prescription. This action should help millions of Americans with hearing loss by reducing the cost, including wait times, of getting the assistance that they need. It should also spur competition among hearing aid manufacturers and distributors to better meet patient needs, patients like Brian Barbera.
Brian Barbera’s Struggle to Get Needed Hearing Assistance
When Brian Barbera sought new hearing aids earlier this year, he knew it was going to be a difficult undertaking. Brian is 33 and has experienced bilateral mild-to-moderate hearing loss since the first grade. Ever since, he’s worn custom hearing aids.
His current ones are now eight years old, well past time to be replaced. His right hearing aid stopped working so he took it to his audiologist. That visit, not covered by insurance, cost $250. The hearing aids were out of date, he was told. So, they contacted the manufacturer. After initially being told they were too old to repair, the manufacturer eventually agreed to repair them for another $350.