Hearing aids can now be purchased without a prescription or medical exam from Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Best Buy. 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 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.
On Monday, Walgreens 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. CVS is selling over-the-counter devices on its website with prices ranging from $199 to $999, and will also start offering them at select pharmacy locations beginning in November.
Walmart is selling over-the-counter hearing aids online and in stores in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas; according to the company, the devices will be available at additional locations nationwide with prices range from $199 to $999 depending on the device. Best Buy is selling 20 different over-the-counter hearing aids online with prices ranging from $200 to $3,000; the electronics retailer will offer the devices in 300 stores across the country later this month.
According to the FDA, an estimated 30 million people in the U.S. have hearing loss, but only about one-fifth of these individuals have hearing aids. Many people who could benefit from the devices cannot access them due to cost.
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