Cheap and sophisticated commercial hearing aids may be on the shelves next year

Theoretically, millions of Americans with mild to moderate deafness go to drugstores today, buy smartphone earphone-like devices, and return to the audible world when they leave the store. You should be able to participate. What they can’t do is another thing they blame for the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration, suffering from a health crisis, missed the August 2020 deadline to propose rules for over-the-counter hearing aids under 2017 Law, according to To the National Institute of Health.President Joe Biden signed executives last month Orde Instruct the agency to complete the draft rule within 120 days. In that case, experts say it can take up to a year for the product to appear in the drugstore.

When the FDA finally issues the final rules, experts want the FDA to unleash competition among consumer electronics companies for the global market. estimate By 2028, it should increase by 40% to $ 11.6 billion. Currently, only a handful of specialized equipment manufacturers dominate hearing aids. market..

Bose sells an FDA-approved $ 850 hearing design for direct sale to consumers in five states and plans to expand.


Dr. Justin Golab, an ear expert at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said: “These are truly innovative companies that are constantly competing to reduce costs, constantly innovate and prove their value. Therefore, we are very excited about this.”

Affects 40 million adults

Deafness is not a minor illness.When you can’t hear it well, you tend to slip through depressionFeel social Isolation It can even be risky dementia, Discovered by researchers. In the United States, it’s a widespread problem. About 40 million American adults suffer from some form of deafness. according to To the National Institute of Health.

However, most insurance policies (including most forms of Medicaid and traditional Medicare) do not cover hearing aids that require a prescription. Some people are too embarrassed to wear historically clunky designs. Less than 30% of people in need of hearing aids actually wear hearing aids, says Dr. Hope Lanter, chief hearing aid at healthcare service provider, compared to 10 years for everyone these days. Even if it looks like you have a device in your ear, before.

According to Lanter, it would be helpful to add “a flashy and sensual version of the company that marks these things.” “Some of our most major manufacturers do a very good job in hearing technology, but some people may find that stamp from some larger players a little more attractive. I don’t necessarily have it, “she said.

Costco sells hearing aids for about $ 1,400 through the Kirkland brand.

At an average out-of-pocket cost of about $ 2,500, high-end devices can exceed $ 8,000, but most adults can’t. Can afford hearing aid. And 14% of adults will fall below federal poverty levels when spending money. One quote.

Brands like Bose reduce stigma

Cheaper hearing aids from known brands are currently available.Bose sells five FDA-approved $ 850 hearing designs for direct sale to consumers state — Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas — There are plans to expand. In 2013 Apple started including Bluetooth software For iPhone that is compatible with hearing aids and offers other hearing-oriented devices featureIncludes dampers and amplification. Costco sells hearing aids through the Kirkland brand. about $ 1400.

Brian Maguire, head of Bose Here, said tech companies are confident that more sophisticated designs and over-the-counter sales will help remove the stigma of ageism and expand the market.

“I’m confident that over time, more people will wear hearing aids at lower prices, which will make them more palatable,” McGwire told CBS MoneyWatch. “Today, they are considered mostly prostheses, not desirable consumer objects, and we believe it can change.”

The impact of a pandemic on children in the Deaf community


McGwire et al. Point out reading glasses as an example of similar changes.

“I don’t see anyone wearing glasses or a reader like a hearing aid,” he said, but I believe hearing aids will quickly shake their stigma. “We believe that as time goes on, they will become more accessible across generations,” he said.

Like reading glasses for eyesight

Consumers should not be confused device They are called personal sound amplification products available from various retailers with hearing aids. According to the Hearing Industry Association, an industry group, these so-called PSAPs are sold to people without hearing loss as sound amplifiers in noisy environments such as restaurants.They cost up to about $ 500 and the FDA Ban Retailers do not sell them as hearing aids.

On the other hand, many people with hearing loss need more sophisticated hearing aids, experts say. Over-the-counter technology (like reading glasses for vision) does not address severe hearing loss or specific needs.

“Commercial hearing aids are only for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. They provide self-diagnosis and self-adaptation,” said Barbara Kelly, Executive Director of the American Hearing Loss Association. I have. “Even in the case of more severe hearing loss, you still need to go through the process and get proper care from either a hearing specialist or a hearing aid specialist.”

As part of that, the FDA has shared President Biden’s desire to move things forward and is “working hard” to draft new rules in the pandemic, officials told CBS Money Watch.

“Issuing the proposed rules is a top priority for the FDA, and the FDA has appropriate guardrails in place to ensure that over-the-counter hearing aids are a safe and effective option for consumers. I promise to confirm that, “said the FDA. statement. Cheap and sophisticated commercial hearing aids may be on the shelves next year

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