6 Best Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids of 2024

Feb 01, 2024
Fact Checked
We selected our top over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid choices based on cost, availability, features, and more.
Medical Reviewer: Brian Murray
  • Jabra is our top pick for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids due to its long warranty, great customer care, high-quality devices with good features, and easy-to-use app.
  • OTC hearing aids are designed for adults age 18 and older who have mild to moderate hearing loss. You can purchase them easily from online or big-name retailers without an in-person hearing diagnosis or prescription required.
  • OTC aids typically cost less in comparison but do not offer the advanced sound technology or customization that prescription aids do.
  • OTC hearing aid packaging includes FDA-regulated information related to hearing loss symptoms, usage warnings, when to seek professional health advice, company contact information, and manufacturer return policies.

Our Reviews Team recommends products and services we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent more than 5,000 hours conducting in-depth research on hearing aid devices to give you the most accurate hearing aid reviews. To make these selections, we:

  • Consulted with audiologists and geriatric care experts
  • Mystery shopped 18 brands
  • Selected 6 models as best OTC hearing aids
  • Surveyed hundreds of hearing aid users
  • Tested various models of hearing aids
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read thousands of verified customer reviews

Read more about our hearing aid review methodology.

1
Best for Seniors
9.9
Exceptional
High-quality, natural sound with Bluetooth streaming
Easy-to-use mobile app to customize your settings
Three years of free audiology support with premium package
100-day risk-free trial
Our Top Pick
2
Best Price
9.3
Excellent
Starting at $189 per pair
Discreet design and nearly invisible
45 day trial period
3
Best Remote Customer Service
9.3
Excellent
Variety of budget products with audiologist support
Neo XS is 50% smaller than affordable competitors
45 day trial period
4
Best Invisible Fit
9.6
Excellent
Virtually invisible
Unique tip design, sits inside your ear canal
Free sample for fit and feel

1,841,585 people helped this year

A quick look at the best OTC hearing aids

Best for Seniors
9.9
Exceptional
High-quality, natural sound with Bluetooth streaming
Easy-to-use mobile app to customize your settings
100-day risk-free trial
Our Top Pick

Did you know your hearing health is an important measure of your overall wellness? Research shows that hearing loss can lead to a host of other health problems, such as depression, falls, and even early dementia. [1]Bigelow RT, et al. Association of Hearing Loss With Psychological Distress and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Adults in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association (2020). Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7372323/ The good news is that hearing aids can not only help you hear better, they can also help prevent some of those conditions, improving brain function and your quality of life. [2]Desjardins, JL. Analysis of Performance on Cognitive Test Measures Before, During, and After 6 Months of Hearing Aid Use: A Single-Subject Experimental Design. American Journal of Audiology (2016). Found on the internet at https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2016_AJA-15-0067

But hearing aids are an expensive purchase, making it difficult for many Americans to get treatment for their hearing loss. On Oct. 17, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a big step toward increasing access to hearing aids for millions of Americans by making over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids available for sale nationwide. [3]The White House. Statement by President Joe Biden on FDA Hearing Aids Final Rule. Found on the internet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/16/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-fda-hearing-aids-final-rule/

What exactly are OTC hearing aids, and how can you buy them? Read our review of the best OTC hearing aid brands to find out how much they cost, where you can buy them, and what to consider before purchasing. For information on both OTC and prescription hearing aids, read our review of the best hearing aids of 2024.

Why you can trust our expert review
5300
Hours of
Research
12
Experts
Consulted
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Brands
Considered
6
Models
Selected

Comparison of the best OTC hearing aids

Price per pair Battery Life Bluetooth Warranty Financing Link
Jabra Enhance $799–$1,995 12–30 hours Yes 3 years Yes Visit Site
Audien Hearing $99–$489 20–24 hours No 1 year No Visit Site
Eargo $1,650–$2,950 16 hours Yes
adjustments only, no streaming
1–2 years Yes Visit Site
MDHearing $297–$699.98 15–20 hours Yes
adjustments only on Volt Max, no streaming
2 years Yes Visit Site
Lexie $799–$999 18 hours Yes
adjustments only, no streaming; iPhone call streaming through B2 model only
1 year No Visit Site
Audicus $1,398–$2,998 18 hours Yes 2 years Yes Visit Site
Jabra Enhance
Price per pair $799–$1,995
Battery Life 12–30 hours
Bluetooth Yes
Warranty 3 years
Financing Yes
Visit Site
Audien Hearing
Price per pair $99–$489
Battery Life 20–24 hours
Bluetooth No
Warranty 1 year
Financing No
Visit Site
Eargo
Price per pair $1,650–$2,950
Battery Life 16 hours
Bluetooth Yes
adjustments only, no streaming
Warranty 1–2 years
Financing Yes
Visit Site
MDHearing
Price per pair $297–$699.98
Battery Life 15–20 hours
Bluetooth Yes
adjustments only on Volt Max, no streaming
Warranty 2 years
Financing Yes
Visit Site
Lexie
Price per pair $799–$999
Battery Life 18 hours
Bluetooth Yes
adjustments only, no streaming; iPhone call streaming through B2 model only
Warranty 1 year
Financing No
Visit Site
Audicus
Price per pair $1,398–$2,998
Battery Life 18 hours
Bluetooth Yes
Warranty 2 years
Financing Yes
Visit Site

Best OTC hearing aids review

BEST FOR SENIORS
9.9 Exceptional
Price per pair: $799–$1,995
Hearing aid style: Receiver-in-canal, in-the-ear
For mild to moderate hearing loss
9.9 Exceptional
Why We Chose

We chose Jabra Enhance as the “Best for Seniors” due to its long warranty, reputation for good customer support, and devices that offer a package of easy-to-use features. We also found the app easy to use for making adjustments to the volume and listening settings, which wasn’t the case for every hearing aid we tested.

Read our full review of Jabra hearing aids.

Features
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App, buttons on hearing aid, or remote assistance
  • Standard warranty: One to three years, depending on basic versus premium package
  • Financing available: Bread
  • Purchasing options: Online, Best Buy
Pros & Cons
Pros 100-day trial period Three-year warranty with the premium package, the longest of any OTC hearing aid Three years of free telehealth support from the Jabra Enhance audiology team if you purchase the premium package Bluetooth streaming Cons Jabra Enhance Plus has a short battery life of 12 hours
Additional Details

Jabra Enhance OTC provide quality hearing aids that can be remotely adjusted by the Jabra Enhance audiology team to fit your hearing profile. Take a look at the table below for an overview of the models offered by Jabra Enhance.

The biggest difference between the top two models is that the Enhance Select 300 has the most advanced hearing technology Jabra offers for a natural hearing experience. The Enhance Plus and Enhance Select 300 also include hands-free calling with iPhone 11 and newer, so you can take phone calls with your hearing aids by connecting them to your phone with Bluetooth.

The Enhance Select 300 and 100 both have a 30-hour battery life, longer than any other OTC brand we’ve found. Every model except the Enhance Select 50 comes with rechargeable batteries, something that 21% of respondents to our hearing aids survey said was the No. 1 feature they wanted in a hearing aid.

Online hearing screening

Jabra Enhance offers a free online hearing screening to help determine your degree of hearing loss.

Learn more about Jabra Enhance from our Jabra Enhance hearing aids review.

Our Top Pick
Best Price
9.3 Excellent
Price per pair: $99–$489
Hearing aid style: In-the-canal
For mild to moderate hearing loss
9.3 Excellent
Why We Chose

Audien offers a basic but affordable FDA-registered hearing aid that beats the prices of all other brands, making it our choice for “Best Price” OTC hearing aid.

Features
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: No
  • Volume adjustment: Screw on the hearing aid
  • Standard warranty: One year
  • Financing available: No
  • Purchasing options: Online, Walmart
Pros & Cons
Pros Lowest price of any rechargeable hearing aid currently on the market Small in-the-canal style is barely noticeable Cons Volume adjustment is inconvenient More basic than many other hearing aids Not water resistant No financing options
Additional Details

The three Audien models are all FDA-registered and small in-the-canal hearing aids with a rechargeable battery. None have Bluetooth capabilities or advanced sound processing features like directional microphones, noise reduction, or the ability to be customized to fit your type of hearing loss.

Audien only offers one listening profile as well, and in testing we were surprised to find that a small screwdriver is needed to change the volume of the Atom model. A black screwdriver/brush hybrid tool is included with your purchase, but it’s not a convenient or discreet way to adjust the volume.

We also found that the user manual was brief compared to other brands we tested; detailed instructions are only available through videos that Audien posts on YouTube. Still, if price is your main consideration, as it is for many people with hearing loss, Audien could be a great place to start.

Learn more about Audien from our Audien hearing aids review.

Best Remote Customer Service
9.3 Excellent
Price per pair: $297–$699.98
Hearing aid style: Behind-the-ear, in-the-canal
For mild to moderately severe hearing loss
9.3 Excellent
Why We Chose

MDHearing is an OTC hearing aid manufacturer that offers free lifetime support from its remote team of audiologists. We’ve been impressed with the after-purchase follow up provided by this company, and the level of care they provide when we’ve had questions or needed help getting the correct fit. All of these points make MDHearing our choice for “Best Remote Customer Service.”

Read our full review of MDHearing aids.

Features
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes (Volt Max)
  • Adjustment: App (Volt Max) or buttons on the hearing aid
  • Standard warranty: One year (Neo, Air, and Volt) or two years (Volt Max)
  • Financing available: Affirm
  • Purchasing options: Online
Pros & Cons
Pros Affordably priced hearing aids with a range of features Lower in cost than many other brands Remote audiology support for the life of your hearing aids Cons No Bluetooth streaming
Additional Details

We talked with Stefanie Godbey, AuD, an audiologist at Ohio Hearing and Audiology. She says that in recent years, she’s seen more patients who want to learn about hearing health, which helps her meet their needs better.

“People are now asking us better questions, and they want to be part of the journey, and that really helps a lot of patients because they’re engaged in the process. When you have a patient who’s engaged, that makes it a lot easier on both ends to focus on the common goal.”

From our hands-on testing, mystery shopping, and real-world purchasing experiences, we’ve found that the audiologists at MDHearing work hard to help their customers meet their hearing goals and have a successful experience. Not all OTC companies offer unlimited remote support, so this is a benefit worth looking for.

The Volt Max is an FDA-approved, self-fitting hearing aid that can be adjusted with the MDHearing app to match your hearing loss profile. [4]MDHearing. MDHearing Receives 510(k) FDA Approval for Its Self-Fitting Smart Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at https://www.mdhearingaid.com/blog/mdhearing-receives-510k-fda-approval/ Both the Volt and Volt Max provide four listening settings to choose from and come with dual directional microphones to help you hear and understand conversations in front of you. By comparison, Audien only offers one listening profile, no app capability, and no directional microphones.

The Neo is too small to accommodate directional microphones, but it does feature noise reduction and rechargeable batteries that last 17 hours or longer per charge.

Learn more about MDHearing in our detailed MDHearing hearing aids review.

Best Invisible Fit
9.6 Excellent
Price per pair: $1,650–$2,950
Hearing aid style: Completely-in-canal
For mild to moderate hearing loss
9.6 Excellent
Why We Chose

Eargo sells three OTC models of completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids that are so small you can barely see them in your ear, making this brand our choice for “Best Invisible Fit.”

Read our full review of Eargo hearing aids.

Features
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App, tapping the hearing aid, or remote assistance
  • Standard warranty: One year (Eargo 5 and 6) or two years (Eargo 7)
  • Financing available: Bread and Covered Care
  • Purchasing options: Online, Best Buy, Victra-Verizon
Pros & Cons
Pros 45-day trial period One- to two-year warranty that covers unlimited repairs and one-time replacement Lifetime hearing specialist support Cons No Bluetooth streaming Fairly short battery life Only one style (CIC)
Additional Details

We liked the variety of tips and domes Eargo provided with the hearing aids we tested (see Figure 1), allowing users to find the fit most comfortable for them.

 

Eargo petals on a grey background against a rule best rechargeable hearing aids
Figure 1 Eargo tips and domes unboxed by our Reviews Team

 

We talked with Brian Murray, a hearing instrument specialist in Raleigh, North Carolina, who cautioned that people with certain types or degrees of hearing loss may need a BTE or RIC-style hearing aid rather than an ITE or CIC style.

Read our hearing aids buyer’s guide for more information on the different degrees of hearing loss.

*These are self-fitting models, so settings can also be customized to your preferences using the Eargo app

You can use the Eargo mobile app to make adjustments and schedule remote support with an Eargo hearing specialist thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, but the hearing aids are too small to include the technology needed for streaming phone calls, music, or TV.

The Eargo 7 is the newest model. It features Sound Adjust+ with Clarity Mode, which makes automatic sound adjustments as you move between environments for a clearer listening experience compared with the Eargo 6. You can make those adjustments yourself on the Eargo 5 by tapping on the hearing aid or using the app.

Learn more about Eargo from our Eargo hearing aid review.

Most User-Friendly
9.7 Excellent
Price per pair: $799–$999
Hearing aid style: Receiver-in-canal (B1 or B2) or behind-the-ear (Lumen)
For mild to moderate hearing loss
9.7 Excellent
Why We Chose

All three self-fitting OTC Lexie hearing aid models can be adjusted using the Lexie app, so you can get the best listening experience possible in every environment. We found the Lexie app easy to use, the manual clear and simple, and customer service helpful, prompt, and friendly, making this brand our pick for the “Most User-Friendly” OTC hearing aid.

Read our full review of Lexie hearing aids.

Features
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes (B2), No (Lumen and B1)
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App or buttons on the hearing aid
  • Standard warranty: One year
  • Financing available: Subscription plan
  • Purchasing options: Online, Best Buy, Walgreens, Walmart
Pros & Cons
Pros Available online and in stores Easy-to-use app with a variety of functions Unlimited remote support from Lexie hearing professionals Cons B1 and B2 require an app for making adjustments to listening settings
Additional Details

If you’re new to hearing aids or aren’t comfortable using technology, look into the Lexie Lumen, which has the same hearing technology as the B1 and B2. This model comes with six listening profiles to choose from, or you can take a hearing test using the app, which will automatically adjust your Lumen hearing aids based on the results of your test. You don’t have as much control over small adjustments, but the app does more of the work for you, making it a great choice for someone who’s new to hearing aids.

Another feature offered only in the Lumen is a telecoil A telecoil is a small copper wire built into a hearing aid that allows you to connect to a phone or loop system to bring audio directly to you. Loop systems are commonly found in theaters, places of worship, and public transportation. , also known as a T-coil or T-switch. Telecoils work with assistive-listening technology (called induction loop systems) in other sound equipment to help you hear more clearly. When activated in the hearing aid, the telecoil routes sounds directly to your hearing aids without the need for Bluetooth pairing.

While the Lumen and B1 models only offer Bluetooth connectivity to access the app for making adjustments, the B2 also allows you to stream phone calls from an iPhone.

*While Lexie doesn’t offer a traditional financing option, the company does have a subscription plan. With a security payment and monthly fee, you can pay off your hearing aids over a 24-month period. You’ll end up paying $358–$426 more for your hearing aids with the subscription plan compared to buying them up front, but this may be a good option if you need to spread your payments out over time.

Read our full Lexie hearing aids review.

Most Financing Options
9.0 Very Good
Price per pair: $1,398–$2,998
Hearing aid style: Receiver-in-canal, in-the-canal
For mild to moderately severe hearing loss
9.0 Very Good
Why We Chose

Audicus offers five models of OTC hearing aids, along with multiple choices for financing, making it our choice for the “Most Financing Options.” And while Audicus has more ways to finance than any other company on this list, it’s worth noting that its hearing aids do have a below-average battery life at 18 hours—which is lower than half the companies on this list.

Read our full review of Audicus hearing aids.

Features
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes (Spirit and Omni lines)
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes (except for Mini)
  • Adjustment: App remote control, or buttons on hearing aid
  • Standard warranty: Two years
  • Financing available: Care Credit, Allegro for Omni and Spirit models only, and payment plan options
  • Purchasing options: Online
Pros & Cons
Pros 45-day trial period Bluetooth streaming Multiple color options Cons Fairly short battery life One of the more expensive OTC hearing aid brands Only treats mild to moderate hearing loss
Additional Details

Audicus subscription plan

Audicus has a subscription plan called Audicus Premier. For the monthly fee noted in the table above, you can lease a pair of hearing aids rather than buying them.

Note: The membership plan is now only available for the newest Series 2 models, Spirit 2, and Omni 2. In addition to the monthly dues, there’s a one-time signup fee of $249, but there’s no required contract or ongoing obligation, which means you can cancel at any time.

The plan includes the following benefits:

  • Free support from Audicus hearing specialists
  • Regular shipments of supplies
  • Care and cleaning at no extra cost
  • A new pair of hearing aids every 18 months
  • Insurance against loss or damage

Read more about Audicus in our complete Audicus hearing aids review.

Brands that didn’t make our best OTC hearing aid list

We chose the top seven OTC hearing aid brands through research and mystery shopping. Find out which others were top contenders, but didn’t make our list and why.

How much do OTC hearing aids cost?

OTC hearing aids range in price from $99 per pair to more than $3,000 per pair. The average price is expected to come down, though, as more manufacturers enter the market.

The federal government estimates Americans can expect to save up to $3,000 per pair compared to the average price of prescription hearing aids. [3]The White House. Statement by President Joe Biden on FDA Hearing Aids Final Rule. Found on the internet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/16/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-fda-hearing-aids-final-rule/

Our survey of 600 hearing aid users found that cost was at the forefront of respondents’ buying decisions. Price ranked as the No. 2 factor when customers were deciding which hearing aid to buy, right behind ease of use.

How to save money on OTC hearing aids

Look at the following ways to save money when you’re buying OTC hearing aids. Also read our review of the most affordable hearing aids to find budget hearing aids and more money-saving tips.

Watch for sales: Hearing aid companies run seasonal and holiday-related sales frequently. Once you’ve decided which brand and model you want to buy, check the website or retail store the week of a holiday to see if you can take advantage of a sale.

Match prices: Hearing aid manufacturers usually won’t match another brand’s prices because each brand and model is unique. But with OTC hearing aids now sold in retail stores, you can often ask one store to match another store’s lower price if you find the same brand and model at two different stores.

Search for discounts and financial assistance: In most cases Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids, but you may be eligible for reduced-price or free hearing aids through other organizations. Some insurance companies give hearing aid allowances, and certain state Medicaid programs may cover some or all of the costs associated with hearing exams and devices. [5]Hearing Loss Association of America. Medicaid. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/financial-assistance/medicaid/

Take advantage of payment plans: Most OTC and prescription hearing aid companies offer financing plans if you prefer paying a smaller amount each month rather than paying the full cost up front.

Use veterans hearing aid benefits: U.S. veterans can receive hearing exams, hearing aids, and hearing aid supplies free of charge if they are eligible for VA health care. Check with your local VA office to find out what benefits you have. [6]U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services. Found on the internet at https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/Hearing_Aids.asp

What to look for in an over-the-counter hearing aid

How do you decide which of the best non-prescription hearing aids will meet your needs? After 5,300 hours of research, our Reviews Team made a list of the best expert shopping advice they had to give on several important points. Here’s what to look for.

Style

OTC hearing aids are available in a variety of designs, from in-the-ear (ITE) to receiver-in-canal (RIC) and behind-the-ear (BTE) styles. Read our hearing aids buyer’s guide to learn more about different hearing aid styles.

This is the starting point for many people when thinking about which hearing aid is best for them. Not only for how it looks, but for how it feels in the ear. It’s important to buy a hearing aid that’s comfortable since you’ll be wearing it for eight or more hours every day.

Features and Technology

OTC hearing aids come in a wide range of models, from very basic devices to advanced hearing instruments that can be personalized to your hearing profile. It can be tempting to buy the most high-tech hearing aids available, but consider which features you’ll use before paying for them.

For instance, do you want a hearing aid with Bluetooth connectivity? The volume and setting on Bluetooth hearing aids can be adjusted using a smartphone app, but some people prefer making adjustments with buttons or dials on the hearing aid itself. Do you want hands-free calls? Some Bluetooth hearing aids can stream audio from your phone.

Also, consider your lifestyle. If you spend most of your time at home, in quiet environments, or in small groups of friends and family, a more basic and affordable hearing aid like Audien or Lexie or the least expensive MDHearing models may be fine for your needs.

But if you’re often in noisy environments that present listening challenges, you may want a higher-end device with more advanced sound processing abilities and options for customization to your hearing needs in each environment. Brands like Jabra Enhance, Eargo, Lexie, and Audicus, offer some of the best over-the-counter hearing aids with higher-end technology.

Battery type

Are you interested in disposable or rechargeable batteries? You’ll pay several hundred dollars more for rechargeability in most cases, but you may find the convenience is worth the extra cost.

Trial period

Because most OTC hearing aids don’t come with the option of seeing an audiologist in person for adjustments and support, it’s important to look for a brand offering a trial period to allow you time to make sure the hearing aids fit well and are helping with your hearing loss.

Most states require hearing aid dispensers to provide a trial period. To view a list of each state’s requirements, see the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Warranty

Warranty length is also important, as hearing aids are complex electronic devices. You’ll want to find out not only how long the standard warranty is, but also what it covers. Among OTC hearing aids, a one-year warranty covering manufacturer defects is common.

Some manufacturers include loss, damage, or wear and tear in their standard warranties. Jabra Enhance is a good example, with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty and three years of coverage for loss and damage.

Other brands provide a short and/or limited warranty, with the option to purchase extended warranty coverage. MDHearing and Lexie both offer this type of coverage.

Take a look back at Table 1 at the beginning of this review to compare the warranty lengths of every brand in this review.

Brand reputation

New manufacturers are emerging constantly in the rapidly changing OTC hearing aid market. Consumers need to know how to spot reputable companies and avoid handing their money over to those who are making false claims or selling devices that aren’t true hearing aids.

One of the best ways to find out if a company is registered with the FDA is to search the FDA establishment registration and device listing, which includes medical device registrations. [7]U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Devices@FDA. Found on the internet at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/devicesatfda/index.cfm

It’s also important to read independent customer OTC hearing aid reviews of any devices you’re interested in buying. Don’t take the company’s word for their reputation; check out sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and TrustPilot to see what others have to say.

Read about ways to avoid OTC hearing aid scams for more information.

What are OTC hearing aids?

OTC hearing aids are FDA-regulated medical devices that can be bought directly from the manufacturer. You don’t need a hearing exam, prescription, or appointment with an audiologist to purchase OTC hearing aids.

OTC hearing aids are designed and best for people who:

According to the FDA’s final rule on OTC hearing aids passed in August 2022, this class of devices is appropriate for people over the age of 18 with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. [8]U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Finalizes Historic Rule Enabling Access to Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids for Millions of Americans. Found on the internet at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-finalizes-historic-rule-enabling-access-over-counter-hearing-aids-millions-americans

We interviewed Jacquelyn C. J. Lovitt, Au.D., co-founder of Capital Institute of Hearing and Balance in Silver Spring, Maryland, to learn more about OTC hearing aids.


“Early intervention is key for the long-term health of your auditory system, [but] is often one of the last on folks’ health care checklists,” said Amy Sapodin, a doctor of audiology in New York City.

“The new category of OTC hearing devices is intended to increase accessibility and awareness for the need to treat hearing difficulty in its early stages, not just when it’s unlivable. It will also remove barriers to access for those who cannot afford prescription hearing aids.”

Where to buy OTC hearing aids

You can buy OTC hearing aids online and in stores that carry health care devices, such as Walgreens, Best Buy, and Walmart. Look for them in the pharmacy section.

FDA Regulation of OTC Hearing Aids

The FDA has developed a set of regulations that apply to all OTC hearing aids in order to ensure their safety for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. [9]Federal Register. Medical Devices; Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices; Establishing Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/08/17/2022-17230/medical-devices-ear-nose-and-throat-devices-establishing-over-the-counter-hearing-aids These regulations outline details like how OTC hearing aids can be labeled, the degree to which they can magnify sounds, and how far they can be inserted in the ear.

The FDA has certain guidelines when it comes to the certified labeling on OTC hearing aid packaging. The most noticeable is the box that warns against the use of hearing aids for those younger than 18. Additional label requirements enforced by the FDA include:

You may see labels on hearing aids regarding their FDA certified registration, approval, or clearance. Products registered with the FDA have listed their manufacturing facility and provided information about their manufacturing process. FDA registration does not mean the FDA has tested a product or deemed it safe. [10]U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Are There “FDA Registered” or “FDA Certified” Medical Devices? How Do I Know What Is FDA Approved? Found on the internet at https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/consumers-medical-devices/are-there-fda-registered-or-fda-certified-medical-devices-how-do-i-know-what-fda-approved

Hearing aids that have received 510(k) FDA approval or are labeled as FDA-cleared have completed a more rigorous process than those that are only FDA-registered. FDA registration applies to the facility that makes the devices, while FDA clearance or approval applies to the devices themselves.

Who are OTC hearing aids for?

Because they need to be self-fitted and self-adjusted, over-the-counter hearing devices are best for people who are comfortable with:

We spoke with Frank Lin, M.D., director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He noted that different people have different needs when it comes to hearing loss treatment.

“In treating hearing loss, there is technology and there are services. They’re two different things. For example, I can think of many of my patients in their seventies and eighties who theoretically could benefit from an OTC hearing aid, but they’re still going to need the assistance of an audiology or other health professional to help guide, counsel, and educate them.

“And I have other people, who are probably younger, who could get an OTC hearing aid and be fine. They don’t need my help or another audiologist’s help.

Hearing aids are not always the appropriate treatment for hearing loss. There are sometimes other issues that need to be addressed before you start using a hearing aid. A hearing care specialist has the equipment to determine your level of hearing loss better than an online hearing test can, and will physically examine your ears and go over your medical history to rule out any other problems, such as:

Potential side effects of OTC hearing aids

It’s normal to go through an adjustment period when you get new hearing aids. The brain needs time to get used to hearing all the sounds it’s been missing, which can be surprisingly exhausting for some people. Some hearing aid side effects you may experience can include:

Since you’re not required to see a hearing professional when you buy OTC hearing aids, you may experience some of the above side effects due to improper placement of the hearing aid in your ear, or an ear dome that is too big or too small, among other things. You may also have an underlying health issue that can’t be treated with hearing aids and will instead need to be addressed by a doctor.

What hearing aid is best for my level of hearing loss?

People with mild to moderate hearing loss are the best candidates for OTC hearing aids. For those who have a higher than moderate level of hearing loss, it’s best to consult a hearing professional before purchasing OTC devices.

Here are the four degrees, or levels, of hearing loss:

OTC vs. prescription hearing aids

OTC hearing aidsPrescription hearing aids
Regulated by FDAYesYes
Levels of hearing loss coveredMild to moderateMild, moderate, severe, and profound
Average price$1,600*$4,600
Hearing exam required?NoYes
Prescription required?NoYes
Fitting appointment required?NoYes
Purchasing optionsIn retail stores, online, and in some hearing care clinicsHearing care clinics
*Based on President Biden’s estimate that customers may save up to $3,000 compared to the average price of prescription hearing aids. [3]The White House. Statement by President Joe Biden on FDA Hearing Aids Final Rule. Found on the internet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/16/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-fda-hearing-aids-final-rule/

Over-the-counter hearing aids pros and cons

While OTC hearing aids are an exciting opportunity for more people to have access to affordable hearing aids, they can have drawbacks compared to prescription hearing aids. Let’s look at the pros and cons of OTC hearing aids.

Pros

Cons

Why hearing aids are important

Hearing aids are meant to make speech more audible when you’re faced with hearing loss at any stage. Nearly 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, but only one in five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually use one. [11]Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Facts and Statistics. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/wp-content/uploads/HLAA_HearingLoss_Facts_Statistics.pdf

Most people choose not to seek assistance from hearing aids due to factors related to pricing, stigma, or because they don’t address the issue in a serious enough manner. But neglecting your hearing health for too long can affect your heart health, blood pressure, memory, and mental health down the line, as well as increasing your risk of falling.

Find out if you’re at an increased risk of falls with our Falls Free CheckUp, and whether you’re eligible for hearing aid assistance in your area with BenefitsCheckUp®

Bottom line

OTC hearing aids are a significant step forward in making hearing loss treatment more accessible to millions of Americans. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss and budget is your primary concern, Audien is a low-cost hearing aid that may meet your needs.

For people who want a higher level of technology, customer care, and financing options, Jabra Enhance, Eargo, Lexie, MDHearing, and Audicus are all good choices.

Frequently asked questions

The main difference between OTC hearing aids and prescription hearing aids is that you can purchase OTC hearing aids from online and in-store retailers nationwide without a professional hearing assessment or prescription. In addition, OTC hearing aids are more affordable because the technology is designed for mild to moderate hearing loss, while prescription hearing aids are typically more expensive because they are designed with higher-end technology, features, and services that cater to severe or specific types of hearing loss.

Hearing aid technology has advanced rapidly in the past 10 years, making many of today’s OTC hearing aids perform better than the prescription hearing aids of a decade ago. OTC hearing aids can provide excellent sound processing and amplification for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Prescription hearing aids are more expensive than OTC hearing aids and contain more technologically advanced sound components because they treat more severe and profound cases of hearing loss. This means that they are more high-tech compared to OTC devices, as they need to address more difficult hearing health cases. OTC hearing aids are still a suitable choice for less-advanced hearing loss.

The cost of OTC hearing aids ranges from $99 to more than $3,000. Basic hearing aids with less audiology support and fewer features are often cheaper than those with more tech-forward sound enhancements and in-depth customer care.

A lengthy return policy is one of the primary features to look for in any OTC hearing aid you’re considering buying. It’s not a smart idea to buy one that doesn’t allow returns, because you may be stuck with a device you can’t use if it doesn’t fit well or help your hearing.

Most OTC hearing aids provide at least a 30-day money-back guarantee, and hearing experts say it can take up to three weeks to adjust to your new hearing aids. Buying from a brand providing a 45-day or longer trial period will give you plenty of time to try them out and get them returned in time if they don’t work for you. Jabra Enhance, Lexie, and MDHearing all give you 45 days or more for a free trial.

Yes, you can buy OTC hearing aids without a hearing prescription or a visit to an audiologist. But experts recommend a hearing exam to rule out any medical conditions or other underlying reasons for your hearing loss, and to determine what level and type of hearing loss you’re experiencing.

A variety of hearing aid manufacturers are moving into the OTC hearing aid market, including many that previously sold direct-to-consumer hearing aids. These brands include MDHearing, Eargo, Jabra Enhance, Audicus, Lexie, and Audien, among others.

OTC hearing aids are available online and in local retail stores like Target, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, and Costco.

Medicare A and B do not cover the costs of hearing exams, hearing aids, or hearing aid supplies, but some Medicare Advantage plans do. Check with your insurance provider to see if your plan includes hearing coverage. You can also use NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp to see what other benefits you may qualify for.

Yes, inexpensive hearing aids work. Given that cheaper hearing aid models are more basic in design and function, they may be better suited for people who need to treat mild hearing loss. Note that as hearing aids increase in price, so do their features. For instance, inexpensive hearing aids may not offer rechargeable batteries or long battery lives, water resistance, or Bluetooth streaming. As you go up in price, these features are usually included. Additionally, you’ll see that more expensive hearing aids integrate more advanced sound technology to offer better background noise cancellation, as well as more listening environments and channels.

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. Bigelow RT, et al. Association of Hearing Loss With Psychological Distress and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Adults in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association (2020). Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7372323/
  2. Desjardins, JL. Analysis of Performance on Cognitive Test Measures Before, During, and After 6 Months of Hearing Aid Use: A Single-Subject Experimental Design. American Journal of Audiology (2016). Found on the internet at https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2016_AJA-15-0067
  3. The White House. Statement by President Joe Biden on FDA Hearing Aids Final Rule. Found on the internet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/16/statement-by-president-joe-biden-on-fda-hearing-aids-final-rule/
  4. MDHearing. MDHearing Receives 510(k) FDA Approval for Its Self-Fitting Smart Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at https://www.mdhearingaid.com/blog/mdhearing-receives-510k-fda-approval/
  5. Hearing Loss Association of America. Medicaid. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/financial-assistance/medicaid/
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services. Found on the internet at https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/Hearing_Aids.asp
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Devices@FDA. Found on the internet at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/devicesatfda/index.cfm
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Finalizes Historic Rule Enabling Access to Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids for Millions of Americans. Found on the internet at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-finalizes-historic-rule-enabling-access-over-counter-hearing-aids-millions-americans
  9. Federal Register. Medical Devices; Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices; Establishing Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids. Found on the internet at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/08/17/2022-17230/medical-devices-ear-nose-and-throat-devices-establishing-over-the-counter-hearing-aids
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Are There “FDA Registered” or “FDA Certified” Medical Devices? How Do I Know What Is FDA Approved? Found on the internet at https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/consumers-medical-devices/are-there-fda-registered-or-fda-certified-medical-devices-how-do-i-know-what-fda-approved/
  11. Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Facts and Statistics. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/wp-content/uploads/HLAA_HearingLoss_Facts_Statistics.pdf
Cara Everett, MS, RDN, LDN
Cara Everett Author, Medical Reviewer
Cara Everett is a writer and registered dietitian nutritionist who has been helping people reach their wellness goals for over 20 years. In addition to working in clinical practice, Cara writes extensively on hearing aid technology, keeping pace with new models and industry developments to help readers make the most informed purchasing decisions possible. She has spent more than 1,000 hours researching and testing hearing aids.
Photo of Brian Murray, Hearing Instrument Specialist
Brian Murray Medical Reviewer
Brian Murray was born and raised in upstate New York. He studied at Ithaca College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology in 2010. He is registered/licensed to dispense hearing aids in New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, where he has worked in both private practice and retail clinics. He currently works as an event consultant, working with clinics across the country.
Kathleen Cameron
Kathleen Cameron Reviewer
Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care field as a pharmacist, researcher, and program director focusing on falls prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Cameron is Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Healthy Aging, where she provides subject matter expertise on health care programmatic and policy related issues and oversees the Modernizing Senior Center Resource Center.
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