FDA allows for over-the-counter hearing aids, students and faculty call for more affordable hearing health care

Joelle DiPaolo, Senior News Reporter

Those living with mild to moderate hearing loss will be able to obtain hearing aids over-the-counter following a new Federal Drug Administration rule from Aug. 16, effectively making them more affordable and accessible. 

Hearing aids typically require a prescription or recommendation from an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, said Michelle Pho, a pediatric audiologist at Dell Medical Center. Currently, hearing aids cost between $2,000 and $7,000 for a pair, said Pho. However, the new regulation will save people nearly $3,000, according to a statement by President Joe Biden. These hearing aids could be available by mid-October, according to the statement. 

Isabella Candanosa, president of the UT Deaf Culture Alliance, said although she recognizes the benefit of over-the-counter hearing aids, having more affordable access to hearing aids and audiology appointments through Medicaid would help. 

“I think (more accessible hearing aids covered by (Medicaid) would really be the best solution instead of trying to make a subpar, over-the-counter Band-Aid solution,” said Candanosa, a speech language and hearing sciences junior. “The FDA is taking steps in the right direction … but it’s not ideal. It’s not what we need.” 

Candanosa said her hearing aids cost about $5,000. She said some insurance companies consider hearing aids cosmetic devices that do not qualify for reimbursement, and other companies will only cover one. 

“If you … go to an audiologist and they make the determination that you need both (hearing aids), (because) you can’t get the full benefit from just having one, then what is that insurance coverage doing?” Candanosa said. “(It’s like) insurance telling you you need your glasses but (they’ll) only cover one lens.” 

Pho said she worries about the lack of audiologist appointments as they help patients have better experiences with hearing aids. She said people who purchase over-the-counter hearing aids should still consult audiologists. 

“The audiologist is there to help guide them,” said Pho, a speech language and hearing sciences lecturer. “(They) tweak the hearing aid settings so that the patient feels like they are getting the best quality of sound.” 

Linguistics junior Sophia Boyd said for people who begin losing their hearing with age, like her mom, increased accessibility could help the transition. 

“My mom probably should have a hearing aid; she tested one out before, but because it costs so much, she was like ‘I’m not doing that, I can just deal with it’,” said Boyd, community engagement director for the Deaf Culture Alliance. “For folks who are far more comfortable relying on their hearing, having hearing aids as a resource is something that will lift a lot of weight off their shoulders.” 

Candanosa said everyone has the right to affordable, high-quality healthcare. 


“Anyone can be born with a hearing loss or they can get a hearing loss later, which means that if you are broke or if you are rich, it doesn’t matter,” Candanosa said. “I don’t think that it should be the situation where if you don’t have the money, ‘Sorry, you have to continue living this way.’ It just doesn’t make sense.”