You’re going to start seeing a lot of advertisements about Other-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids. The federal government introduced a law in 2015, passed it in 2017, and put it in effect in 2020 that allows hearing aid to be sold directly to consumers without the “inconvenience” of having to see a professional for a hearing test. It “eliminates unnecessary visits” for individualized care, programming, and maintenance. It gives consumers “control of their own hearing care.”
In reality, it allows more internet companies to sell devices without ever meeting a client or patient. It allows the convenience of putting a purchase on a credit card from the comfort of your own home. It eliminates proper instruction on, and preventative care that extends the life of, your hearing aid investment. It gives control to the device being purchased.
Dr. Larry Humes and his team at Indiana University invited 60 self-identified mild to moderately hearing impaired individuals to participate in a study. The participants were provided with full written descriptions of five different hearing aids. The overwhelming majority of the people chose their device based on power output listed on the specification sheets. Over half chose a device that produced 125dB. Note of them knew the threshold of pain in the human ear is 120dB! This is just one example of why the hearing test is not an “inconvenience”.
As we head into this new decade, please remember that although the internet is a great tool and resource it is not a replacement for proven care and human connection. If you see an offer and wonder if it is genuine, don’t hesitate to call 812-303-4300 to ask. By the way, none of the study participants were fit with the 125dB output devices. All were counseled by professionals toward a more appropriate device.