Hiawatha doctor says over-the-counter hearing aids not right solution

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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HIAWATHA, Iowa (KCRG) - A local expert says the FDA decision to clear the way for over-the-counter hearing aids will lower the cost for many people, but also that this solution is not the best way to make hearing aids more affordable.

Dr. Beki Kellogg with Hope Hearing and Tinnitus Center said, “I would love to see it where it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, we will cover, you know, half or 75% of hearing devices’ as opposed to, ‘We’ll kind of mass produce under-quality devices to patients.’”

The FDA established a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids, which allows people to buy hearing aids without a medical exam, a prescription, or an audiologist. A release from the agency said the more affordable devices could be in stores as soon as mid-October.

However, Dr. Kellogg said the cheaper devices are more generic and might not take care of a person’s unique needs.

“You know, the devices would be similar to probably just turning up the volume on the TV,” said Kellogg.

She also worried that an over-the-counter device could deter people from getting more specialized help.

“The biggest thing that kind of hurts my heart, though, is I wouldn’t want the stigma of one bad experience of an over-the-counter taint someone forever for hearing devices or helping treat their hearing loss,” said Kellogg.

She added, “I think they’re working to try and create a benefit for patients and their hearing. It’s just not at a point that it’s beneficial.”

Information from the FDA about the decision, including changes in response to public comments, can be found here.

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