Hearing aids will become more affordable, thanks in part to the efforts of Frank Lin, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Dr. Lin, who has spent years studying how hearing loss is linked to dementia, helped U.S. government and health care leaders create the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017. The Act, which became law last August, makes certain types of hearing aids available over-the-counter to adults with mild hearing loss, and requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate over-the-counter hearing aids by 2020.
“Treating hearing loss is ridiculously expensive,” says Dr. Lin. “The average cost of getting two professionally fit hearing aids is about $4,700." This new law gives consumers the option to buy a safe, high-quality, FDA-regulated device at a lower cost.
Dr. Lin cautions not to wait if you’ve been thinking about purchasing a hearing device. Over-the-counter hearing aids won’t be on the market for a few years. The FDA still needs to write rules that will ensure these new products are safe and effective.
In the meantime, he suggests seeing an audiologist if you are having difficulty hearing. “Untreated hearing loss increases the risk of other health problems, such as cognitive decline and dementia, falls, hospitalization and disability,” says Dr. Lin. “That’s why it’s so important to prevent, screen and treat hearing loss as soon as possible.”