As of today (10/19/2019), there is no additional clarity on the final rules that will govern Over the Counter Hearing Aids (OTC’s). This update, on the surface, should be a very simple one basically stating that there is no update at this time, please stay tuned for additional information. But it is a bit more involved.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of companies that have jumped the gun and are attempting to sell OTC’s prior to the rules and regulations getting published.
The question is, how can so many large and reputable companies, both in stores and online, be selling OTC hearing aids prior to the regulations being set.
The answer is there has been a re-branding of many Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAP’s) as hearing aids. A PSAP is designed for people with normal hearing and is not a hearing aid. The marketing of PSAP’s is restricted to those with “normal hearing” and is not for the treatment of hearing loss. PSAP’s have a wide range of capabilities with some performing very well; however, they are not designed to treat hearing loss. The re-packaging and re-branding of PSAP’s as OTC’s is designed to sell these products (regardless of what name they are given) and capitalize on the increased exposure the OTC rules will undoubtedly bring to treating hearing loss. If it is not a re-branding then it is simply jumping the gun.
Now before anyone criticizes us for being anti OTC or PSAP please understand this is an update on the OTC rules and a 10,000 ft. view of what is going on with OTC’s. OTC’s will definitely have a role to play in the treatment of hearing loss for people with a mild or even possibly mild to moderate hearing loss. There will certainly be OTC devices that work very well providing tons of benefit. We are not against OTC’s or PSAP’s when used appropriately. The best results will always be obtained when the right tool is used for the job.
If you are wondering if an OTC will be appropriate for your hearing loss submit your test results and get a second opinion. Well, once the rules are completed we will be happy to tell you if your are an appropriate candidate for an OTC device.