“Hearing aids” are medical devices regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose intent is to treat hearing loss. Hearing aids are not curative and will not return normal hearing, but that can significantly improve your ability to communicate and reduce the frequent isolation and frustration hearing loss produces.
Hearing aids can be purchased from licensed providers, such as audiologists, hearing aid dispensers, and physicians or they can be purchased over the counter at retail stores or direct to consumer, through online and mail order distributers. Over the counter or direct to consumer sales do not provide the evidence based diagnostic evaluation or hands on, face to face care but provide easy, affordable access to amplification.
There are many manufacturers, types, styles, sizes, and price points for hearing aids. The decision on what product is best for you and your hearing loss is the result of a comprehensive evaluation where your financial limitations, lifestyle, cosmetic desires, dexterity, cognitive status and the psychological, medical, educational, emotional, social, and/or vocational impact of your hearing loss are evaluated and discussed with and by an audiologist. These evaluations are strongly recommended before you purchase hearing aids from either a provider or an over the counter or direct to consumer entity.
While Medicare does not provide hearing aid coverage, some state Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation programs, and private health insurance plans do offer hearing aid discounts or hearing aid coverage. Audiology practices can assist you in determining if any coverage or benefits exist.