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Consumer Reports: Finding the best over-the-counter hearing aids

Posted at 7:39 AM, Sep 20, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Get ready for more ads for hearing aids. But the good news is, it'll be easier to get them. A recent rule change means you'll be able to buy hearing aids now over the counter. You won't need a prescription. Which will change the way people shop for hearing aids.

To give people better access to affordable hearing aids, Congress passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, which finally goes into effect in October.

"Consumers will be able to buy hearing aids from the stores, online, without needing the intervention of an audiologist or a doctor," said Catherine Roberts with Consumer Reports.

That could save people hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

When you’re shopping for hearing aids, there are some important questions you should ask. Like, what’s the return policy? Since it can take time to adjust to a new pair, Consumer Reports says to make sure you can try them out for at least a few weeks.

Also, check out their features. Do they have replaceable or rechargeable batteries? Are they sweat or water-resistant? Will they pair to your smartphone via Bluetooth? Do they have a telecoil — which lets you tap directly into assistive listening systems at large events?

The FDA rule also standardizes features for hearing aids. For example, all over-the-counter hearing aids must allow users to adjust the volume. You may think that’s an obvious feature, but you’d be surprised by what’s available.

Consumer Reports says not all hearing aids will be available over the counter under these new rules. People with severe hearing loss and anyone 18 will still need to see a doctor for a prescription to get hearing aids.