Hearing aids coming to store shelves mid-October

Before you buy, there are key questions to ask

SAN ANTONIO – Come Oct. 17, consumers should be able to walk into their neighborhood Walgreens store and buy a hearing aid, no prescription required.

The Over-the-counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 finally goes into effect mid-month. That will make it easier for millions of people with mild to moderate hearing loss to access and afford hearing aids.

Judi Mayer has dealt with hearing loss for years, missing out on plenty of conversations.

“Asking people to repeat themselves was the key to, ‘OK, I can’t hear you. I have hearing loss,’” Mayer explained.

Now, consumers will be able to buy FDA-approved hearing aids from stores and online without needing to go to an audiologist or doctor, although they still may.

That will save people hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Retailers have been getting ready. Walgreens announced it will begin selling an $800 hearing aid in stores Oct. 17.

Best Buy is adding the new category of FDA-approved devices to its offerings and plans to set up an in-store experience.

Consumer Reports says before buying, there are some key questions to ask:

  • What’s the return policy? It can take a few weeks to adjust to a new pair.
  • Do they have replaceable or rechargeable batteries?
  • Are they sweat or water resistant?
  • Can you pair them with your phone by Bluetooth?
  • Do they have a telecoil that lets you tap into listening systems at large events?

The FDA is regulating the devices and some features are required. For one thing, all OTC hearing aids must let users adjust the volume.

Hearing experts say OTC hearing aids are not for everyone. People with severe loss and children will still need a prescription from a professional.

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About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.