Over-the-counter hearing aids: What will it mean for older Americans
In October 2021 the Food and Drug Administration released draft rules creating a new class of hearing aids to be sold over the counter. Since Medicare does not cover hearing aids, the ready availability of low-cost aids is potentially good news for the millions of older Americans with hearing loss, a disorder that is associated with isolation, depression and poor health. However, better financial access to hearing aids will not necessarily translate into better hearing: many older people will need assistance in fitting, using and maintaining their aids. Policymakers, managers, and clinicians need to consider how to structure, fund and deliver these vital adjunctive services.