In late March, a bi-partisan group of Senators introduced new legislation intended to improve accessibility to hearing aids for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Led by Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 would establish a FDA-regulated category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid devices.

Why the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act is Necessary

The purpose of the OTC Act is not to replace traditional hearing aids. For those individuals with advanced or severe hearing loss, a prescription-grade hearing aid is better. These devices should be accompanied by an examination and fitting by a trained audiologist.

The intended benefit of this legislation is to improve accessibility to a critical medical device needed by millions. Consider the following statistics published in a recent post by the AARP:

  • Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss.
  • Related symptoms associated with hearing loss include social isolation, loss of income, and onset of dementia.
  • Two-thirds of adults over the age of fifty elect not to use hearing aids.
  • A large percentage of those with hearing loss choose not to use hearing aid devices due to affordability.

In a statement to the press following the introduction of the newly proposed legislation, Senator Warren said the following:

“Allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter will help bring down costs and expand consumer choices so that millions more Americans can find affordable hearing aid. This bill will loosen up outdated regulations and, with the right protections in place, let the market bring great products to residents at far lower costs.”

The gold standard of hearing health care involves professionally trained audiologists. Consequently, those with financial means to do so should always seek the assistance of a hearing instrument specialist if possible.

Encouraging Earlier Action to Address Mild Hearing Loss

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) suggests that OTC hearing devices would fill a large void in today’s marketplace. In an article supporting the proposed OTC Hearing Aid Act legislation, the HLAA writes:

“OTC hearing aids will provide accessible and affordable hearing health care to millions of people who might not otherwise seek help. Or, for those who have sought help, OTC hearing aids could provide an affordable option. People usually wait seven to ten years before they seek help. By that time, hearing loss has totally disrupted their lives, impacting their communication at work, with their families, their ability to participate in their communities and in activities that give their lives meaning and fulfillment.  We believe that available, affordable and accessible OTC hearing aids will encourage more people to take the first step sooner toward taking charge of their hearing health.”

How to Voice Your Support for the OTC Hearing Aid Act

IQbudsTM are not designed to act as a hearing aid.  However, they enable people who are mildly hearing-challenged to hear what they want to hear. Nuheara is 100% supportive of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act. As such, we encourage all our partners and customers to support this important legislation.

The ability to hear is one of life’s five traditionally recognized methods of perception. Therefore, access to such a vital function can be life changing for those suffering from hearing loss.

To voice your support for the OTC Hearing Aid Act, please visit and send a message to your local Congressman or Congresswoman today!

May 25th, 2017
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