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Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is Now Law

President signed legislation on August 18, 2017

8/30/2017 10:37:38 AM

A close view of a hearing aid in someone's hand.

Did you receive the good news from the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)? The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Trump under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act of 2017. 

What are Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids?

According to the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids information page on HLAA's website, OTC hearing aids are "hearing devices for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss purchased directly by consumers from a retailer or online. OTC hearing aids will be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with clear labeling as to use, safety and efficacy. This would be a new option to allow adults with mild to moderate hearing loss to get affordable and easily accessible hearing aids."

Who will benefit from OTC hearing aids? 

OTC hearing aids are intended for individuals who have mild to moderate hearing loss. If you have a higher degree of hearing loss, they probably won't work for you.

However, individuals with more profound hearing loss could still benefit from OTC hearing aids because prices are expected to come down. Only 6 large companies in the world make hearing aids. It is a hard market for new companies to tap into but now that the law has changed, it will be easier. More competition along with strict FDA requirements for the new aids should lead to lower prices, more innovation, and better quality hearing aids. Hard of hearing author, HLAA Board Member, and AARP Columnist Katherine Bouton blogged about why she supports OTC hearing aids

When will they be on the market?

They won't be on the market right away. It may take several years. The FDA has to make safety rules and regulations as well as collect public comments before ruling. Please watch for the FDA's upcoming requests for public comments and share your opinions!

People who suspect that they may have hearing loss should not wait for OTC hearing aids to come to the market. Go ahead and schedule an appointment with an audiologist or a licensed hearing aid dispenser. For more information, go to our website, Hearing Loss Matters.

What next for affordable hearing health care?

MNCDHH hopes that Medicare will cover hearing aids. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) has introduced the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017 but the bill has not progressed beyond that at this time. We'll continue to watch what happens. 


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