WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday took a major step toward bringing down the cost of hearing aids by making them available over the counter.
The freedom to buy hearing aids without a fitting or test by a specialist is likely to make them cheaper and the market more competitive. The cost of hearing aids can run into the thousands. They often are not covered by insurance companies or traditional Medicare, the federal health program for people over 65, although private Medicare Advantage plans sometimes cover them.
Hearing loss can exacerbate isolation and loneliness in older adults, with serious implications for their quality of life and health. Because of the price, a small fraction of adults with hearing loss use them, and uptake is lower among low-income seniors and people of color.