If you, like tens of millions of Americans, are hard of hearing, the news this week brings optimism, joy, and relief. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally decided, after years of study, how to liberalize the market for the provision of hearing aids, so that they can be sold without medical examination and prescription by pharmacies.
This is an extremely important decision with beneficial effects on generations of Americans.
Unfortunately, it took decades for this decision to be made. Apparently that’s how strong the financial interests of the few companies that make them are.
In the end, however, the FDA gave in because the need to liberalize the market is so obvious and the reasons put forward by the companies for maintaining the current regime are so ridiculous that they had no more room to maneuver.
After that, the purchase price of hearing aids should come down substantially, thus allowing those who could not afford them now to do so.
At the same time, it will contribute to the development of new technologies, some of which we cannot even imagine today.
Until now the devices were very expensive.
Of course, to be fair, it took a lot of investment to invent the revolutionary technology that makes them so useful today. As incredible as it sounds the cost reaches at least $6,000, with the result that many Americans cannot buy them.
According to a 2018 study by the National Health Survey – The National Health Interview – only 28% of people aged 60 and older use hearing aids – 17 million people.
This is despite the fact that approximately 15% of the entire population, or 37.5 million people, between the ages of 20-69, report having a hearing problem.
Because they are expensive and not covered by Medicare, millions cannot be helped.
There is another, less important reason, I think: Many people feel that there is a stigma associated with using hearing aids – they prove that someone has grown old.
Like so many other such social ‘stigmas’ of the past – i.e. the use of glasses – the use of hearing aids should be overcome. Although this should have happened decades ago.