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In April 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that companies could sell hearing aids over the counter. This move may make hearing aids more accessible to millions of Americans.

A quick look at 5 of the best nonprescription hearing aids

Around 30 million Americans over 18 years of age require hearing aids but do not have them. One major barrier to the devices is cost. The FDA’s 2022 ruling can help address this issue.

Read on to learn more about what over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are, who may benefit from them, and where to buy these devices online.

Nonprescription or OTC hearing aids are medical devices that can help people with hearing loss.

These hearing aids are only suitable for people who are 18 years or older with mild to moderate hearing loss. These devices do not require a medical exam, prescription, or fitting from a hearing care professional.

Additionally, companies do not need to be licensed sellers to offer these devices for purchase.

Although they operate under different regulations from prescription hearing aids, OTC hearing aids must meet government standards for safety and effectiveness.

Nonprescription hearing aids are only suitable for people who are 18 years and older and have mild or moderate hearing loss.

Clinical data on the effectiveness of OTC hearing aids is limited. However, a 2018 review that looked at direct-to-consumer hearing devices found that people reported improvements in hearing, communication, quality of life, and social engagement.

Another benefit of nonprescription hearing aids is that they may make hearing devices more accessible to people on lower incomes. People can save an estimated $3,000 when purchasing a pair of hearing aids.

Learn more about the cost of hearing aids here.

Medical News Today chooses products that fit the following criteria where possible:

  • FDA approval: MNT chooses products that have received FDA approval.
  • Hearing aid styles: MNT chooses products in a range of styles, such as in-the-ear, in-the-canal, and behind-the-ear.
  • Features: MNT chooses products that have a range of features, such as rechargeable batteries, white noise, and smartphone app connectivity.
  • Price: MNT chooses products that are available in a range of budgets.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for a budget: Walmart Go Prime

  • Price: $299 per pair
  • Type of hearing aid: completely-in-canal (CIC)
  • Rechargeable: yes
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty

These devices are discreet and wireless and offer easy volume adjustment.

The company states that the Go Prime has 6 digital channels and 12 bands, which can help make speech as clear as possible in a range of situations.

This device also features feedback cancellation and noise reduction to manage background noises that may interfere with speech clarity. Additionally, it has 30 hours of battery life and comes with a charging dock.

Walmart offers a 60-day returns policy and a 1-year warranty on parts and labor. People can also pay with their health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) cards.

Best for battery options: Audicus Wave

  • Price: $699 per ear
  • Type of hearing aid: receiver-in-canal (RIC)
  • Rechargeable: battery or rechargeable
  • Warranty: 2-year warranty

Audicus states that the Wave is the company’s most popular entry-level hearing aid.

Read our Audicus review here.

The Wave has Bluetooth technology, allowing people to pair it with their Apple or Android devices and other media devices to stream audio and entertainment.

This device has two directional microphones, 10 volume settings, and several preprogrammed settings such as Conservation in Noise and TV/Music.

People can choose between purchasing a rechargeable or battery-operated device.

Learn more about hearing aid batteries here.

Audicus states that it requires a current hearing test before people can order a hearing aid from its website. If a person does not have a current hearing test from a healthcare professional, they can take the free test on the Audicus website.

The company offers a 45-day trial and a 2-year warranty.

Best for streaming: Hearing Assist CONNECT

  • Price: $599.99 per pair
  • Type of hearing aid: in-the-ear (ITE)
  • Rechargeable: yes
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty

Hearing Assist states that these OTC hearing aids offer more connectivity than its other products, pairing easily with the company’s free app. The app allows people to change their hearing aid settings quickly.

Read our Hearing Assist review here.

The CONNECT also offers wireless streaming, allowing people to listen to music and other entertainment from their smart devices.

The earbud style of these devices may be more discreet than other styles of hearing aids. Additionally, each purchase comes with a charging dock.

Best for customized results: Lexie Lumen

  • Price: $799 per pair
  • Type of hearing aid: behind-the-ear (BTE)
  • Rechargeable: no
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty

Lexie states that these hearing aids may be best for those who would like a simple, preprogrammed hearing device.

These hearing aids have six preset listening environments, feedback cancellation, and noise reduction, and they are sweatproof to extend the device’s lifespan.

Additionally, the company offers customized hearing. People can choose to take a hearing test through the Lexie app, and their hearing aid will automatically adjust to the settings the app recommends to give people a better hearing experience.

Lexie offers a 45-day trial and a 1-year warranty.

Best for most listening environments: MDHearing VOLT

  • Price: $1,199.98 per pair
  • Type of hearing aid: BTE
  • Rechargeable: yes
  • Warranty: 1-year warranty

The MDHearing VOLT is the company’s most popular hearing aid. It features a discreet and almost invisible design with thin tubing, is rechargeable, and may be suitable for most environments.

Read our MDHearing review here.

The company states that the dual microphones can filter out background sounds while doing activities such as watching TV, traveling, and more.

MDHearing offers a 45-day trial and a 1-year warranty.

The following table compares the OTC hearing aids in this article.

PriceType of hearing aidRechargeableWarranty
Walmart$299 per pairCICyes1 year
Audicus$699 per earRICoptional2 years
Hearing Assist$599.99 per pairITEyes1 year
Lexie$799 per pairBTEno1 year
MDHearing$1,199.98 per pairBTEyes1 year

OTC hearing aids are only suitable for people who are 18 years of age or older and have perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

Eligible people may wish to consider the following factors before purchasing an OTC hearing aid:

  • Environment: People who are often in different environments, such as outside in rural areas, in busy cities, and traveling, may wish to purchase a hearing aid that has more noise profiles to filter out background sounds more effectively.
  • Battery: People may wish to choose rechargeable hearing aids if they do not want to purchase replaceable batteries.
  • Type of hearing aid: Certain styles of hearing aid may be more discreet than others. For example, CIC hearing devices are almost invisible. Learn more about different hearing aid types here.
  • Warranty: People may wish to choose a hearing aid that has a longer warranty. These devices can be expensive to repair or replace, and a longer warranty may save costs. Some companies may also offer an optional warranty extension.
  • Price: While OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription devices, they are still available in a range of budgets. Generally, the more expensive a device is, the more features it offers.

Learn more about how to shop for hearing aids here.

Before purchasing these devices, people may wish to consider the following advantages and disadvantages:

Pros

  • less expensive than prescription hearing aids
  • do not require fitting appointments or an appointment with a hearing care professional
  • available online and in retail stores, making them accessible to more people
  • available in a range of styles with similar features to prescription devices

Cons

  • do not offer as personalized an experience as prescription devices
  • if a person’s hearing loss is due to an underlying medical condition, they may not receive the medical care they need
  • not suitable for children, people with severe hearing loss, or those with hearing loss due to injury or illness

The following table compares nonprescription and prescription hearing aids.

OTCPrescription
Suitable agesadults 18 years of age and olderall ages
Hearing lossmild-to-moderatemild-to-profound
Requires prescriptionnoyes
Requires medical examnoyes
Requires fittingnoyes
Requires license to sellnoyes

Prescription hearing aids can be expensive, and even OTC hearing aids may not be affordable.

Some employer-sponsored healthcare coverage will cover the cost of hearing exams and hearing aids, but not all will. It is important to check a person’s employee benefits to see whether they can claim coverage.

However, several organizations offer financial or other support to make hearing devices more accessible. The following are some options a person may consider:

  • The Hearing Aid Project: Provides a directory of state and federal charities and agencies that may offer financial aid or free hearing devices.
  • The Miracle-Ear Foundation: Miracle-Ear, a hearing aid company, offers the Gift of Sound program, which gives eligible customers a free hearing aid with the same warranty terms as paying customers.
  • Lions Club: Lions Club organizes hearing aid recycling. People who are in need of a device should contact their local club to discuss whether they are eligible to choose a recycled hearing aid.

Here we answer some common questions about these devices.

Do off-the-shelf hearing aids work?

Nonprescription hearing aids are medical devices that the FDA regulates.

This means that OTC hearing aids may work for adults with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss. However, these devices are not suitable for people with severe hearing loss or hearing loss due to an injury or underlying medical condition.

Are cheap hearing aids worth buying?

OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription devices, with President Biden stating that the average American can expect to save up to $3,000 per pair of hearing aids.

However, it is important to only purchase a nonprescription hearing aid if it meets a person’s requirements. People who need extra features may spend more than someone who requires a simpler device.

Does Medicare cover hearing aids?

Medicare Original (Parts A and B) does not cover the cost of hearing aids or hearing exams.

However, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, may cover some of the cost of hearing care. A person should contact their plan for more information.

Learn more about insurance and Medicare coverage for hearing aids here.

Nonprescription hearing aids offer a more accessible and affordable way for people to treat hearing loss. People can save up to $3,000 per pair of hearing devices compared with prescription aids.

These devices do not require a prescription, medical exam, or professional fitting. However, they are only suitable for adults over 18 years of age with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. People who do not meet these criteria should contact a healthcare professional for the next steps.

OTC hearing aids are available online and in retail stores.