Prescription hearing aids can be expensive, averaging roughly $2,400 each, which consumers often pay out of pocket. Over-the-counter options, such as personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), range from about $10 to about $500 each but, unlike hearing aids, aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. And PSAP manufacturers are not allowed to call the products hearing aids or claim they help impaired hearing. This could confuse consumers.
But a law passed at the end of the summer might help people looking for effective and safe options that won’t break the bank. The law, introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, creates an entirely new category for OTC hearing aids and overrides state laws that restrict access to PSAPs.
Like today’s PSAPs, the products in the new category will be cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription aids, but, like prescription hearing aids, will also be regulated.
This is good news, according to Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports, which supported the law. “This will help ensure that consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss have easily accessible, affordable options for hearing devices,” says George Slover, a senior policy counsel at Consumers Union.
You can’t try an FDA regulated OTC hearing aid just yet. The agency has three years to come up with rules for which products will fall into this new category, what their technical specs must be, and how they’ll be labeled and marketed. For more on how to get help for hearing loss now, go to CR.org/hearing.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health December 2017
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