OTC vs Prescription Hearing Aids

ON AIR With Bruce Elliot – Dr. Melissa Segev Discusses OTC Hearing Devices vs. Prescription Hearing Aids

by | Mar 6, 2022 | Hearing Aids, Patient Resources, Radio Show

Choosing the proper hearing solution for you is our main concern at Audiology Associates. Since many options are now available in the hearing care market, it can be confusing to know which choice is right for you.

Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing OTCs on-air with Bruce Elliot to help the wider Maryland community better understand their options for choosing the proper hearing solution for them.

You can catch the recording below or continue reading for a more in-depth discussion about how OTC hearing aids differ from traditional prescription hearing aids.

OTC Hearing Aids

President Biden’s announcement back in summer 2021 proposed that over-the-counter hearing aids be sold without the intervention of a hearing care professional such as an audiologist. This came from an attempt to ensure that hearing technology is more affordable and accessible to approximately 48 million Americans who have an untreated hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids.

Since then, as audiologists, we have continued to use our power to help educate people who might be considering purchasing OTCs on both the risks and possible advantages of these devices.

I don’t believe it’s a bad thing that we’re starting to see the introduction of OTCs, and we’ve been hearing about it since the FDA’s proposed regulations, which initially got delayed because of COVID-19.

However, the over-the-counter hearing aids are still not going to be super cheap. They will be between $900 to $1000 for a good set. For a clearer understanding of what to expect from an OTC hearing aid, here are some pros and cons below.

Pros:

  • Cheaper – OTC devices range in price, but overall they are less expensive than prescribed hearing aids. In addition, they are meant for minor hearing loss and don’t consider any existing medical conditions.
  • Entry Product – Typically, an OTC is aimed at people who have just begun to see a decline in their hearing. As an amplification tool, an OTC can be advantageous to someone who only needs a small amount of assistance before committing to prescription hearing aids in the future.

Cons:

  • Only for Mild Cases – Aimed at people with a very mild hearing loss. They won’t have a ton of background noise capability or reduction like prescription hearing aids.
  • Inconsistent – If you have already purchased an OTC and were not happy with the results, we don’t want this to affect your opinion of prescription hearing aids. OTCs are stock products and are made with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality. If this describes your situation, please bring your OTC into one of our offices and our professional staff can have a look and provide honest feedback.
  • Testing – There are minimal resources to find the right OTC for you. They do not provide individual testing and therefore you may end up with a device that is not specifically catered to your needs.
  • Harmful – In some extreme cases, having the wrong OTC can do more harm than good. There may be issues with the volume or background noise canceling, leading to further and more debilitating problems. Depending on your previous condition, an OTC could also create wax impact or canal damage.

OTC device help Audiology Associates banner

Prescription Hearing Aid

Pros:

  • Individual Examination – We test and fit our patients specifically to their needs and expectations with each hearing aid. We work with our patients to identify the leading problem and correctly diagnose and treat the issue. By doing so, we can track and monitor our patient’s progress and make necessary adjustments as needed.
  • Quality – Traditional hearing aids have been around for a long time. With this experience, we can fine-tune the settings to address the patient’s specific needs. For example, increased volume and reducing background noise are two things that a traditional hearing aid will improve vastly compared to an OTC. While OTCs claim to solve this problem, it varies significantly from patient to patient.
  • Insurance Coverage – In some cases, your insurance company may cover your hearing needs. This will significantly reduce the cost of your hearing aid and may even make it cheaper than any OTC.
  • Complete Service Coverage – Your hearing aid costs also cover a high level of attention to detail that comes with your hearing aid. With continued care, a tailored approach, and total device support, your audiologist provides comprehensive service.
  • Follow Up – Our staff is always ready and willing to assist. If you are experiencing problems with your hearing aid or need to make adjustments just come into one of our offices and we’ll be happy to help.

Cons:

  • Cost – If your insurance does not cover hearing aids, the price can be higher than that of an OTC, but not in all cases.

To find out which is the best course of action for you, schedule a hearing assessment, and we will help navigate through all the information to find the best solution for you.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Melissa Segev Au.D, F.A.A.A.

Dr. Segev, co-owner of Audiology Associates, proudly represents the values of excellent patient care upon which her practice was established in 1977. She understands that to properly treat the patient, excellent state-of-the-art medical testing is required along with acute listening and understanding of the patient’s perceptions of how they are feeling and what their needs might be.

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