US adults can now buy hearing aids over the counter

President Joe Biden's executive order gives greater access to the medical equipment for Americans with hearing loss at a fraction of the usual cost

Americans can now buy hearing aids without a prescription, a long-awaited move intended to make the devices more accessible AP
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Adults in the US can now purchase hearing aids straight off pharmacy shelves without needing a prescription, expanding access for those needing the equipment.

Walgreens drug stores have begun selling hearing aids for $799 a pair in stores and online, the White House said in a fact sheet. Similar hearing aids can cost upwards of $8,000.

One of the largest discount stores in the US, Walmart, is now selling hearing aids for as low as $199 a pair. The company says comparable options under a prescription would cost about $5,000.

President Joe Biden shared the news — which was part of an executive order signed in July — via Twitter.

“Starting this week, we're making hearing aids available over the counter, so people don't have to pay for expensive visits to specialists,” he wrote.

“The [Food and Drug Administration] estimates this is going to save patients as much as $3,000 per pair.”

There are at least 30 million people in the US living with different levels of hearing loss.

Mr Biden's move greatly benefits those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, who were previously required to go to an audiologist for a costly exam to get a prescription. Even with a prescription, hearing devices were, for many, out of reach financially.

People with severe or profound hearing loss, however, will still need to consult with an audiologist as over-the-counter hearing aids may not meet their needs.

Updated: October 18, 2022, 4:55 AM