In August, President Trump signed The Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act of 2017 in to law as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act of 2017. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) a cosponsor of the bill, said, “By passing this legislation and making some hearing aids available over the counter, we will increase competition, spur innovation, and bring down prices.”
James C. Denneny III, MD, executive vice president and CEO of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO–HNS), agreed. “OTC access has a high likelihood of affecting pricing,” he said. “Pricing will be more transparent, and it is anticipated that competition within the market will lower the cost of hearing aids, particularly ‘entry-level’ hearing aids appropriate for mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss.”
Cutting the cost of hearing aids to make them more accessible is the clear benefit of this new law. How this will affect otolaryngologists and audiologists is, of course, still largely unknown as details of the law are not yet final. However, Dr. Denneny and others here weigh in on the effects this new law may have on clinical practice.