Audiologist says more work needed to break down barriers to ear care

Audiologist says more work needed to break down barriers to ear care
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - This week, the FDA approved a new rule that will allow adults with hearing loss to purchase hearing aids over the counter--which could cost consumers thousands of dollars less than prescription aids.

The new rule goes into effect in October. Medicare and most insurance policies don’t cover hearing aids. The FDA cited studies that 30 million Americans experience hearing loss, but only about a fifth of them get help.

Experts say untreated hearing loss can lead to dementia, increased risk of falling, depression, and social isolation.

We reached out to hearing specialist Kyle Dempsey with Belton Fort Wayne, who says that while prescription aids will always be the ideal option, something is always better than nothing when considering the cheaper over-the-counter option. However, Dempsey says more still needs to be done to break down barriers to ear care.

“Hearing should be looked at as a medical necessity, not a cosmetic,” Dempsey says. “For many years, it was labeled as a cosmetic under insurance filings. I’m really liking see that get turned around because people have a need for this. Hearing affects your wellbeing and health. So, really really excited to see more insurances step up and get that help they need.”

Experts say each case of hearing loss is highly individualized, with problems linked to specific frequencies or environments. That’s why Dempsey recommends adults considering an over-the-counter hearing aid still reach out to an audiologist for free information about their hearing loss.

He says that can help them make informed decisions about what products best meet their needs and not have to resort to trial and error.