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How to buy hearing aids over the counter

Installation hearing aid on woman's ear at hearing clinic, close-up, side view. Deafness treatment, hearing solutions
Hearing aids are now for sale for a few hundred dollars over the counter. Here are three ways to find cost-effective and reliable devices. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hearing aids are a medical necessity for millions of Americans. 

"7.1% of the population aged 45 and over used a hearing aid," according to the CDC. That figure is higher for men (8.9%) than women (5.4%) but it doesn't tell the whole story. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that "about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids."

Needless to say, hearing aids are an essential expense and their demand will only increase.

That's why it was such welcome news Monday when a federal law allowing hearing aids to be sold directly over the counter went into effect, enabling adults with mild to moderate hearing loss to buy the devices without a prescription.

For decades, it would cost customers thousands of dollars to get a hearing aid. Now over-the-counter hearing aids are on sale for a few hundred dollars. If you're in the market for a hearing aid, it pays to learn about the available options. Find a cost-effective and reliable device today.

How to buy hearing aids over the counter

Here are three ways to buy a hearing aid without a prescription.

Shop around

Even though a hearing aid is treated as a medical device it doesn't mean you shouldn't do your homework. Just like any other product you would buy for a significant sum, it pays to shop around to find the best price.

Just make sure to do an apples-to-apples comparison. So if you prefer rechargeable devices make sure you get prices for those types from multiple servicers. Ditto if you prefer battery-operated ones. By accurately comparing devices from one provider to another you can best determine which device is right for you. Use the table below to get started.

Visit your audiologist

Don't discount the benefits of an audiologist just because you can purchase hearing aids over the counter. An audiologist, in addition to doing an accurate check on your hearing, can recommend budget-friendly options best for your specific needs. 

Don't just buy the first hearing aid you see in your local drugstore. Speak to the audiologist first to determine the best aid for your specific hearing loss. Then shop for that specific type by using the table above or call a hearing aid professional who can help find a device for you. 

Know the return policy

When hunting for over-the-counter hearing devices make sure to look for those with lengthier return policies (think more than 30 days). This will allow you to try out the device without committing to it long-term. Is it comfortable? Can you wear it for extended periods of time? How is the quality of your hearing when using it?

It's not yet clear how much help (if any) customers will get in-store when choosing a hearing device. Some stores may provide guidance but others may not. So make sure you can return it within a reasonable timeframe should it not be up to your standards.

Other considerations

Since this rule just recently went into effect there are likely to be some growing pains. And with more potential customers, there are likely to be more vendors in the space. 

So take your time. Shop around, speak to your audiologist and don't be afraid to return devices that don't work for you.

Have more questions? Speak to a hearing aid professional today who can help you get started.

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