October 1, 2021 — No one wants to wear a hearing aid. They can be unsightly, embarrassing, and usually don’t work well in noisy situations. They are also very expensive ($2,000 to $12,000 a pair), and generally not covered by any kind of insurance, including Medicare. Unfortunately, if your hearing is bad enough, not wearing one leads to being shut out of the conversation and social isolation. Fortunately there might be less expensive, and more effective ones coming on the market.
Jane Brody recently wrote an article in the NY Times that promises some hope: “Will Hearing Aids Ever Be Hip“. While two thirds of people over 70 suffer from hearing loss, only 20% of adults who could benefit from a hearing aid use one. Clearly there is a demand for a better product.
Congress passed a law in 2017 that would require hearing aids to be available over the counter, no prescription required, for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Unfortunately nothing was done about it, and today to get a hearing aid you must be prescribed for it and buy it from a specialized firm or doctor. According to Brody, one of the best deals available today are the $2,000 hearing aids available at Costco, which use Bluetooth technology that can connect them to your phone or TV.
President Biden has issued an executive order that will require that rules be established so high quality hearing assist devices become available from certain retailers. The products available from Samsung, Apple, and Bose are reputably effective for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, and these companies could also make effective hearing aids to be sold through retail outlets. The Times article warns that some of the products currently available in pharmacies are not that great. In the mean time, many experts advise using Facetime or the speaker on your cell phone, which provide more easily understood sound than a landline telephone.
Comments? Do you wear a hearing aid, or do you think you should? If not, what is holding you back? If you could, would you buy a product from a retailer if it provided good sound and wasn’t so expensive? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.