Unexpected consequences of OTC Hearing Aid

I almost have 98% of hearing loss is in both ears. For over 30 years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on my hearing aids, the cost of which has been partially covered by insurance. This week, FDA complete Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are available over-the-counter for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids will be on the market as early as October.

Over the past two years, analysts have guess that when OTC hearing aids finally come out, they will revolutionize the market in the US, making them cheaper and purchasable without a prescription or medical testing. But while this new business model means manufacturers can sell directly to consumers, it could have unintended consequences for me or other deaf people who are impaired. moderate hearing loss.

According to the National Institute of Deaf and Other Communication Disorders, about 13 percent of the U.S. population — 30 million people — 12 years of age and older has hearing loss as determined by standard hearing tests. About 28.8 million adults in the US could benefit from wearing hearing aids, but for reasons of cost, accessibility, stigma and preference, they choose not to wear them.

This is not a new problem. In the 1930s, doctors defined deafness as a worrying public health issues, and has partnered with deaf and hard of hearing organizations to advocate for regular hearing screening and hearing aid prescriptions. As the hearing aid industry improved the specifications of their products, hearing aid dealers used direct sales and storefronts to attract protesting consumers. Consumers can choose from a variety of models and features, perhaps even tailored for their specific type of hearing loss. However, rising maintenance costs, rising prices of new and powerful models, and insurance restrictions have deterred many people from purchasing hearing aids. Even today, hearing aids are not yet available Medicare.

But this trend has changed. In 2017, Congress passed the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) to create an OTC hearing aid for adults with mild or moderate hearing loss. According to guidance presented in October 2021, OTC hearing aids will be available from any over-the-counter seller and sell for about $600 per pair, rather than the average cost of $5000 to over $14,000 for a pair (includes accessories and attachments- service up). Once OTC hearing aids hit the market, they will provide consumers with cheaper, accessible options and sophisticated technology to improve hearing. But despite these improvements, the marketing and adoption of these OTC hearing aids will likely reinforce stereotypes that continue to stigmatize the deaf community.

One problem is that without individually tailored hearing aids, consumers may experience frustration with their hearing aids, if not worsening of their hearing loss — a problem. The problem with OTC hearing aids can be exacerbated, as they will have presets or limitations. Several startups are trying to solve this problem by providing a smartphone app linked to their OTC prototype to Almost right the audiologist’s experience. However, like audiologist argues, without a proper hearing test in a controlled environment such as a soundproof booth, consumers cannot properly self-diagnose their hearing assessment.

The most pressing concern is how OTC hearing aids are marketed. Advertisements and press releases emphasize that untreated hearing loss can be serious: In addition to physiological stress, it is often associated with dementia, depression, and social isolation. These campaigns primarily target elderly people with fixed incomes, thus reinforcing the stereotypical link of hearing loss with aging. Furthermore, the advertisements for these OTC hearing aids suggest that they will “invisible“And thus can reduce discrimination or embarrassment of deafness. Such marketing strategies push deaf people into a binary group: They are either “hearing” or they are part of Deaf culture and communicate primarily in sign language. However, both groups are expected to accept medical and technological options for “cure”. However, not all deaf people – myself included – want to be “cured,” and want to accept their deafness as a spectrum of auditory experiences and identities.

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