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Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: What You Need to Know (10/13/22)

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Michele DiStefano, Director of Audiology Services

Michele DiStefano, audiologist in NYC with the Center for Hearing and Communication
Michele DiStefano, AuD, CCC-A

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aidsa new category of self-fit aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss are finally here. We’re excited about the availability of new options for amplification and hope more people will be inspired to take action to address their hearing loss.

Left untreated, hearing loss can negatively impact health and safety. Adults living with untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of depression, falls and dementia. And the longer a person postpones treatment, the harder it is for the brain to adapt.

Stigmathe negative perception that hearing aids can make you look "old" or "disabled"is a longstanding reason why people often fail to address their hearing difficulties. We are hopeful that the convenience and lower cost of OTC hearing aids will motivate those who meet the criteria to give them a try. The more people who use hearing devices, the more they will become acceptable and help to reduce the stigma.

CHC's OTC Hearing Aid Tips

For those interested in exploring the new frontier of OTC hearing aids, here are some CHC tips to keep in mind. Following these suggestions will help you get the best outcome possible and avoid disappointment.

  1. Get Tested - While not a requirement for purchasing an OTC hearing aid, a hearing test is highly recommended before you consider any OTC options. This will help you gain more knowledge and awareness of your hearing needs. And, importantly, it can help you determine if you are a candidate for OTC aids versus prescription aids. Hearing tests are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans.

  2. Give it Time - It takes time to get used to a hearing device. Be sure to check the product’s return policy to ensure you have enough time to adapt and try it out in different settings and listening situations.

  3. Know the Features - Check the product’s warranty and battery life and see if the device has Bluetooth and telecoil capabilities. The device may also require a smartphone for set up and operating.

  4. Read the Warnings - Pay attention to package warnings. If you have pain, sudden hearing changes, or dizziness, see a doctor.

  5. Engage an Audiologist - If the OTC hearing aid doesn’t work out, don’t give up. It’s possible it’s not the right amplification for you. We encourage you to keep trying and consider discussing your options with an audiologist.

  6. Know your Coverage - While OTC hearing aids are not covered by health insurance, we recommend checking your health insurance’s coverage for prescription hearing aids. Hearing aids are increasingly covered by insurance. This may reduce the cost of prescription hearing aids and enable you to get higher quality technology with more features and benefits. FSA/HSA savings can be put towards payment of hearing aids; OTC hearing aids are expected to be eligible as well.

  7. Be Informed - For more guidance, refer to the NIDCD's informative Overview of OTC Hearing Aids.

CHC is Here to Help

We know that many individuals may desire help from an audiologist to program and adjust an OTC hearing aid purchased. So we're prepared to provide support.

CHC is here to help and is offering residents of the Tri-State Area a free, 15-minute OTC hearing aid phone consultation to answer any questions you may have about this new category of hearing aids. To request a free OTC consult, please use the button below.

For any other service in our New York or Ft. Lauderdale office—including audiological testing, hearing aid fitting, assistive devices consultation and more—contact us today to request an appointment.

Thank you for making CHC your partner in healthy hearing.

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