Millions of Americans with hearing loss can now purchase hearing aids without a prescription or medical exam from Walgreens, CVS and Best Buy, according to the companies.
Walgreens on Monday started selling over-the-counter hearing aids online and at its stores nationwide for $799 a pair. By comparison, the average cost of prescription hearing aids can range between $2,000 and $8,000, according to the company.
CVS is selling over-the-counter devices on its website with prices ranging from $199 to $999. The drug store chain will also start offering them at select pharmacy locations beginning in November.
Walmart is also offering over-the-counter hearing aids online and in stores in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. The devices will be available at additional locations nationwide, according to the company. Prices range from $199 to $999 depending on the device.
Jennifer Nealon, Marketing Director at Hear Again America, holds hearing aids that they sell on October 19, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Best Buy is selling 20 different over-the-counter hearing aids online with prices ranging from $200 to $3,000, according to the company. The electronics retailer will offer the devices in 300 stores across the country later this month.
And Hy-Vee, a supermarket chain, will offer four different hearing aids online and in 34 locations across Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin this week. Prices range from $499 to $999. By the end of the year, the devices will be available in 100 stores.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a rule in August that allowed over-the-counter sales of hearing aids for adults ages 18 and older with mild to moderate hearing loss. People with severe hearing loss and children still need prescriptions for the devices.
President Joe Biden had issued an executive order in 2021 directing the Health and Human Services Department and the FDA to develop a rule allowing over-the-counter sales of hearing aids. The White House announced the availability of the hearing aids earlier Monday.
Some 30 million people in the U.S. have hearing loss but only about one-fifth of these individuals have hearing aids and use them, according to the FDA. Many people who could benefit from the devices either can’t access them due to cost while other people don’t use them due to perceived stigma, according the agency.
The FDA, in an analysis, estimated that over-the-counter hearing aids could save consumers about $1,438 each because they are not bundled with costly professional services.
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