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Your Healthy Family: Over the counter hearing aids, a good or bad move?

Posted at 7:06 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 09:06:59-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family we're following up on the FDA's announcement last week that hearing aids will soon be available without a prescription over the counter.

“I've always had hearing issues, significant hearing loss in the higher registers,” says Kurt Sevits who says there were things he just couldn’t hear. “I can't hear a lot of high pitched noises.”

4 years ago he couldn't afford to get hearing aids. He'd need to pay about $5,000 out of pocket and that’s when Kurt found out that a lot of insurance plans don't cover hearing aids especially for adults.

Dr. Michael Illif, with Hearing Consultants of Colorado Springs, tells me even though this latest move from the FDA might keep some potential patients from seeing a professional for help with their hearing loss, overall - “I think it’s a good thing, the market needs to have more competition. About 20% of people who have hearing loss actually do something about it, and part of that is because of cost.”

Dr. Iliff says there is a potential downside to the introduction of over the counter hearing aids if people try to self manage what are perceived to be just mild or moderate hearing problems that are actually complex hearing issues.

“I think there still needs to be a diagnosis, a hearing evaluation. Most insurance covers those and then you’re making sure there is nothing medically going on such as asymmetry or something that needs to be treated by surgery or medication or even hearing devices that are more sophisticated. We want to be able to give people those options.”

For people, 18 and older who are just beginning to experience mild or moderate hearing loss, over the counter hearing aids could open up a whole new world of hearing for them, like it did for Kurt.

“I really hope it kind of, kind of gets the conversation going about, about hearing aids and coverage for them, and how challenging it could be to get them,” says Kurt.

Dr. Iliff says, “This will help give many people a lower cost device so they can start to improve their hearing and their quality of life.”

In our next story, Dr. Iliff will talk about why he feels this move from the FDA still won’t move the needle for some people, when it comes to solving a their hearing problem.

Hearing Consultants of Colorado Springs is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family