Hearing Help is on the Way | WV MetroNews

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the over-the-counter sale of hearing aids to adults without a prescription.  They should start showing up on the market by the middle of next month.

This long-awaited decision represents a significant victory for tens of thousands of West Virginians, and an estimated 30 million Americans, who have mild to moderate hearing loss. The National Health Interview Survey estimates that 25 percent of adults in West Virginia suffer from hearing loss, one of the highest rates of any state.

Currently, hearing aids are only available with a prescription after visiting an audiologist. Hearing aids are expensive, often costing $5,000 or more, and the costs are not covered by Medicare or many private health insurance plans.

The high cost can be a deterrent for many who, as a result, have diminished quality of life because they do not hear well.  Additionally, hearing loss can contribute to dementia and depression. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the FDA’s decision will provide some relief.

“(The) action by the FDA represents a significant milestone in making hearing aids more cost effective and accessible,” he said.  The federal agency estimates its ruling could reduce the cost of some hearing aids by as much as $2,800.

The decision is also expected to expand hearing aid options by drawing more manufacturers into the market, said Nicholas Reed, an audiologist at the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, in an interview with the New York Times.

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