top of page


Parker Garcia
Parker Garcia

Can Buy Hearing Aid Without Test

Where for decades it cost thousands of dollars to get a device that could be purchased only with a prescription from an audiologist or other hearing professional, now a new category of over-the-counter aids are selling for hundreds of dollars. Walmart says it will sell a hearing aid for as little as $199.

can buy hearing aid without test

The OTC aids cost less partly because they do not bundle the services of an audiologist for a hearing evaluation, fitting, and fine-tuning the device. Instead, the new devices are intended to be set up by the consumers themselves, although manufacturers will offer technical assistance through apps and by phone.

Walmart said it will offer an assortment of OTC hearing aids, including some at $199 to $299 per pair from the South Africa-based company hearX, which also makes Lexie devices. Initially, the devices will be available at Walmart stores in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. But the company expects to make them available nationwide soon.

Spurred by decades of complaints about the high cost of hearing aids, Congress in 2017 ordered the Food and Drug Administration to set rules that would enable over-the-counter sales, with hopes it would boost competition and lower prices. But the covid pandemic slowed the FDA effort, and last year President Joe Biden ordered the FDA to produce those rules. The final regulations were announced two months ago. Under the federal rules, the new category of hearing aids bypasses state dispensing laws.

Tom Powers, a hearing aid industry consultant in New Jersey, said the new devices will be clearly labeled as FDA approved and consumers should watch for that. These are different from inexpensive personal devices that amplify sound but do not address other components of hearing loss, such as distortion.

Nancy M. Williams, president of Auditory Insight, a hearing health care management consulting firm, said she reviewed eight major OTC hearing aid products, from $499 to $1,299. Some look like earbuds or are nearly invisible, while some look like traditional hearing aids that wrap around the ear. The OTC aids she reviewed largely have limited or no Bluetooth connectivity, a feature that allows users to customize the devices, and only about half have rechargeable batteries. But all eight allow the user to personalize the devices based on the results of their hearing test.

The American Academy of Audiology, a professional organization for audiologists, posted information online for consumers about OTC hearing aids, and the Hearing Loss Association of America, a consumer advocacy group, also has online advice.

Are you having trouble hearing? Do you think a hearing aid might help? You can go to the store and find a few different styles. Or, you can go online to see what other options you have. Just like for glasses, you will find different styles and types of hearing aids. You may also find that you can save money with sales or discounts. However, before you buy hearing aids on your own, there are some things you should know:

Do you have Medicare? If so, your doctor can send you to an audiologist for a complete hearing test at no cost. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, says that it is important that you see a doctor before buying hearing aids. Children up to 18 years old must see a doctor before getting hearing aids.

Can you buy a hearing aid online without seeing a doctor? Yes, you can. The seller may offer an online hearing screening to help figure out which hearing aid is best for you. The problem is that online hearing screens cannot tell you the cause of your hearing loss. What if you have too much wax in your ears? You may have a hard time hearing, and the online screening will show a hearing loss. But hearing aids will not help this type of hearing loss. Online hearing screens can only tell you that your hearing is not normal and that you need further testing.

It is important that you have a complete hearing test. Audiologists will test your hearing in sound-treated rooms that keep other sounds out. They use special earphones and equipment that meet national standards. Online hearing screens do not have to meet these standards and may lead to test results that are not correct.

Your audiologist will keep working with you after you get your hearing aids. The goal is to make sure that your hearing aids work for you. The benefits of working with an audiologist include the following:

It may take a little bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. And you may need to have your aids adjusted a few times until you are happy with them. Remember, hearing aids are medical devices. They will work only when they fit to how you hear. An audiologist can help make sure that you get hearing aids that work for you.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 223,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students.

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

However, the types (and prices) of hearing aids available to consumers are changing. In August 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a new over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids category, and various hearing aid manufacturers are now joining the market, selling their products with retailers like Walmart and Best Buy as of Oct. 17, 2022. Hearing aid manufacturers now have 240 days to amend relevant product labels and marketing to comply with new OTC requirements. OTC hearing aids are more affordable and accessible to consumers than most other FDA-approved hearing aids on the market right now.

Many are excited about the new OTC hearing aids category, but the idea remains controversial. Members of some hearing health industry associations are concerned about consumers purchasing and using OTC hearing aids without first completing a hearing evaluation conducted by a hearing health professional. They worry people might damage their ears from overamplification or simply not get a positive result with the products and give up on hearing aids altogether, which has all sorts of social and health implications. Meanwhile, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) openly supports a regulated market for OTC hearing aids.

OTC hearing aids are intended to help adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, according to the FDARA. However, consumers should keep in mind that hearing loss can sometimes be a symptom of underlying health issues, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease, says Michele Michaels, a hearing health care program manager at the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing in Phoenix.

You can also purchase certain direct-to-consumer hearing products online to help you hear better in certain situations, and in some instances, they are the same models being sold in audiologist offices. Direct-to-consumer hearing products include:

The risk of using such devices occurs when the wearer turns the volume up too high, which could damage their hearing further, says Michaels. However, hearing assistive technology can also benefit the person with hearing loss significantly since the devices help reduce isolation and improve their quality of life.Better Hearing Through Advanced Technology 041b061a72




bottom of page