Senator Chuck Grassley says Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss should be able to buy reliable, over-the-counter hearing aids. Grassley was the lead Republican co-sponsor of a bill President Trump has signed that will establish federal standards for hearing aids sold in retail stores.
“About 48 million American experience age-related hearing loss, yet only a small share of them have the benefit of hearing aids,” Grassley says. “That’s mostly because hearing aids are very, very expensive.”
Medicare and private insurance plans rarely cover the cost of hearing aids. The new law requires the Food and Drug Administration to establish safety standards for amplification devices. Grassley says it means consumers will be able to buy hearing aids without a prescription and without a medical exam.
“Consumers are interested in new hearing aid products to improve their quality of life at an affordable price,” Grassley says. “The more products available, the more consumers will be able to find something they can afford.”
According to Grassley, fewer than one in six Americans who need hearing aids buy them, because they’re too expensive.
“The measure will help fill a very pressing need,” he says.
Consumer Reports recently surveyed its readers and found those who needed hearing aids put off buying them for a couple of years because of the cost. Those who did buy hearing aids spent an average of $2,700 on the devices. However, 16 percent of the magazine’s readers said they spent more than $5,000 on prescription hearing aids. Grassley says with more competition from over-the-counter sales, hearing aid costs will hopefully go down.