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The 6 Best Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids of 2022

Nov 10, 2022

By Cara Everett, MS, RDN
Medically Reviewed by Brian Murray, HIS
Reviewed by Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, Senior Director for NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging
Fact Checked

Key Takeaways

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, which hit the market in mid-October 2022, are appropriate for adults age 18 and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • OTC hearing aids are FDA-regulated medical devices that can be purchased without a hearing exam, prescription, or appointment with an audiologist.
  • OTC hearing aids are expected to cost about $1,600 per pair—$3,000 less than the average cost of prescription hearing aids.

Did you know that your hearing health is an important measure of your overall wellness? Research shows that hearing loss can lead to other health problems, such as depression,  falls, and even dementia.1 The good news is that hearing aids can not only help you hear better, they can also improve brain function and your quality of life.2

But hearing aids are an expensive purchase, making it difficult for many Americans to get treatment for their hearing loss. Starting 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.

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 2022.

A quick look at the best OTC hearing aids

Why you can trust our expert review

5,300
Hours of Research
12
Experts Consulted
18
Brands Considered
95
Models Considered
6
Models Selected

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.

Table 1 Comparison of the best OTC hearing aids, as of November 2022

Jabra Enhance

Eargo

Lexie

Audicus

MDHearing

Audien

Price per pair

$799–$1,995

$1,450–$2,950

$799–$999

$1,398–$2,998

$299–$699

$99–$249

Reviews 
Team rating (5-point scale)

4.21

3.91

4.51

4.19

3.27

3.91

Hearing aid style

Receiver-in-canal, in-the-ear

Completely-in-canal

Receiver-in-canal, behind-the-ear

Receiver-in-canal, behind-the-ear, completely-in-canal

Behind-the-ear

In-the-canal

Battery life (hours)

12–30

16

18

18

15–20

20–24

Bluetooth

Yes

Yes
(for adjustments only, no streaming)

Yes
(for adjustments only, no streaming)

Yes

Yes
(for adjustments only on Volt Max, no streaming)

No

How to adjust

App, buttons on hearing aid, or remote assistance

App, tapping the hearing aid, or remote assistance

App or buttons on hearing aid

App or buttons on hearing aid

App (Volt Max) or buttons on hearing aid

Screw on back of hearing aid

Standard warranty length (years)

3

1–2

1

2

90 days

1

Financing available?

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Best OTC hearing aids review

Best for Seniors: Jabra Enhance

Jabra enhance unboxing all products

Pros 100-day trial period Three-year warranty, the longest of any OTC hearing aid Three years of free remote support from the Jabra Enhance audiology team Bluetooth streaming
Cons Jabra Enhance Plus has a short battery life of 12 hours
  • Price per pair: $799–$1,995
  • Hearing aid style: Receiver-in-canal, in-the-ear
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App, buttons on hearing aid, or remote assistance
  • Standard warranty: 3 years
  • Financing: Yes

Our Reviews Team chose Jabra Enhance (previously known as Lively) as the “Best OTC Hearing Aid for Seniors” for its long warranty, reputation for good customer support, and devices that offer a package of easy-to-use features.

The federal government estimates that over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids could save Americans up to $3,000 off the average price of a pair of prescription hearing aids, which is $4,600.3 Jabra Enhance devices deliver even greater savings with good quality hearing aids that can be remotely adjusted by the Jabra Enhance audiology team to fit your hearing profile. Take a look at Table 2 for an overview of the models offered by Jabra Enhance.

Table 2 Comparison of Jabra Enhance hearing aids, as of November 2022

Enhance Plus

Enhance Select 50

Enhance Select 100

Enhance Select 200

Price per pair

$799

$1,195

$1,595

$1,995

Color choices

2

5

5

8

Battery type

Rechargeable

Disposable

Rechargeable

Rechargeable

Bluetooth streaming

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

App for adjustments

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Hands-free calling

Yes

No

No

Yes

Number of listening settings

3

4

4

4

The most notable difference between the top two models is that the Enhance Select 200 has the most advanced hearing technology Jabra offers for a natural hearing experience. The Enhance Plus and Enhance Select 200 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. Bluetooth streaming is still available for all Apple devices and most Androids.

Every model except the Enhance Select 50 comes with rechargeable batteries, a feature that 21% of respondents to our hearing aids survey said was the No. 1 feature they wanted in a hearing aid. For anyone with arthritis, vision impairment, or other conditions that could make handling tiny hearing aid batteries difficult, rechargeable hearing aids are convenient. The Enhance Select 200 and 100 both have a 30-hour battery life, longer than any other OTC brand we’ve found.

Online hearing screening

Jabra Enhance offers a free online hearing test so you can learn your degree of hearing loss. Our Reviews Team had to search to find the hearing test on the website though; the link above will take you right to it. 

You can either submit your Jabra Enhance hearing test results, or the results from an in-person hearing test if you’ve had an exam by an audiologist or other hearing specialist. The Jabra Enhance audiology team will use your hearing test results to program your new hearing aids. The company also partners with hearing clinics across the United States to provide in-person care for its hearing aids. Use the online locator to find a certified Jabra Enhance clinic in your area.

Customer support 

Jabra Enhance is known for excellent customer service. The company provides three years of remote support by its audiology team, and you get 100 days to try the hearing aids with no commitment. If you don’t think they’re a good fit within that time, you can return them for a full refund.

The three-year warranty is the longest of any OTC brand we’ve reviewed, and is another reason we chose Jabra Enhance as the best for older adults. The warranty covers both manufacturer’s defects and loss or damage. A strong warranty can help give you peace of mind when purchasing an OTC hearing aid, since you can’t take it to a hearing clinic for repairs. About 53% of Jabra Enhance users who responded to our Reviews Team’s survey said they never needed a repair during their warranty period, while 35% said they needed a repair once or twice during the warranty period. 

Not only is the quality of your hearing aids important, the customer care that you receive in the years after your purchase can make all the difference in how much you benefit from using your hearing aids. Jabra Enhance delivers on all points related to customer care, making it a good choice for older adults who are new to hearing aids.

Customer service

Payment options

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • FSA and HSA cards

Financing options

  • Third-party lender Bread, which offers 12-, 18-, and 36-month payment plans

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

Best Self-Fitting: Lexie

lexie hearing aids best otc hearing aids

Pros 45-day trial period Available online and in stores Two models of self-fitting hearing aids (B1 and B2) that allow for fine-tuning adjustments
Cons B1 and B2 require an app for making adjustments to settings
  • Price per pair: $799–$999
  • Hearing aid style: Receiver-in-canal (B1 or B2) or behind-the-ear (Lumen)
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes (B2), No (Lumen and B1)
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App or buttons on the hearing aid 
  • Standard warranty: 1 year 
  • Financing available: Subscription plan

Lexie has partnered with Bose to develop two models of self-fitting OTC hearing aids: the B1 and B2. Both offer fine-tuning, so you can get the best listening experience possible, making Lexie our pick for “Best Self-Fitting” OTC hearing aids.

What to know about self-fitting hearing aids

Not all OTC hearing aids are self-fitting. This term means that the user can adjust the settings themselves rather than relying on a hearing specialist to make adjustments. For example, the Lexie B1 and B2 allow you to switch between listening profiles (called “environment settings” on the Lexie app), but you can also adjust parameters like directionality of sounds, balance between your left and right ears, bass, and treble. 

Manufacturers of self-fitting hearing aids must prove to the FDA that their devices can be adjusted by the user similarly to how a hearing specialist would adjust them. Their devices can then be advertised as FDA-cleared, which is also called 510(k) FDA approval.

OTC hearing aids that are not self-fitting, such as Audien and some models sold by MDHearing and Audicus, only provide the option to toggle between different listening settings. They still have to be registered with the FDA, but do not have to meet the same testing requirements as self-fitting hearing aids. You can look up any hearing aid brand in the FDA’s database to see if it’s registered.4

While it may seem that self-fitting hearing aids are the best choice for everyone, this isn’t always the case. It takes some background knowledge to be successful with the fine-tuning adjustments available on self-fitting hearing aids such as the B1 and B2. Our Reviews Team spoke with a Lexie support specialist who said Lexie hearing aids can be a great choice for people who have worn hearing aids before and/or have experience in the sound engineering or music industry. 

Lexie Lumen vs. B1 and B2

If you’re new to hearing aids or aren’t very comfortable using technology, look into the Lexie Lumen. This model comes with six listening profiles you can choose from and the same hearing technology as the B1 and B2, but it doesn’t have the capability to make fine-tuning adjustments.

In addition to selecting your listening profile, you can take a hearing test using the app, and the app will automatically adjust your hearing aids based on the results of your test. So while you don’t have as much control over the small adjustments, the app does more of the work for you, making it a great choice for someone who’s new to hearing aids.

What is a telecoil?

Another feature offered only in the Lumen is a telecoil, 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. 

Public places of worship, theaters, auditoriums, and museums are often equipped with induction loop technology to allow you to use a telecoil for a better listening experience. Telecoil-equipped hearing aids can also make talking on a landline telephone easier by reducing feedback. 

Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences among the three Lexie models.

Table 4 Comparison of Lexie hearing aids, as of November 2022

Lexie Lumen

Lexie B1

Lexie B2

Purchase price

$799

$849

$999

Subscription price*

Security payment

Monthly payment 

       (x 24 months)

 

$149

$42

 

$199

$47

 

$249

$49

Style

Behind-the-ear

Receiver-in-canal

Receiver-in-canal

Color choices

5

1

1

Battery type

Disposable

Disposable

Rechargeable

Telecoil

Yes

No

No

Self-fitting

No

Yes

Yes

Based on features, customer service, and price, Lexie is our top-rated self-fitting hearing aid (4.51 out of 5) of all the brands researched by our Reviews Team. If the price is within your budget and you feel comfortable using an app to adjust your hearing aids, this brand could be just what you’re looking for.

*While Lexie doesn’t offer a traditional financing option, the company does offer 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 than buying them up front, but this may be a good option if you need to spread your payments out over time. 

Customer service

Payment options

  • Credit card
  • FSA or HSA card
  • Subscription plan

Most Affordable: Audien

audien best otc hearing aids

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
  • Price per pair: $99–$249
  • Hearing aid style: In-the-canal
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: No
  • Volume adjustment: Screw on the hearing aid
  • Standard warranty: 1 year
  • Financing available: No

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

As with all OTC hearing aids, Audien devices are meant for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. Both of its FDA-registered models, the Atom and Atom Pro, are small in-the-canal hearing aids with a rechargeable battery. Neither one has Bluetooth capabilities nor 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 our Reviews Team was surprised to find that a small screwdriver is needed to change the volume. A black screwdriver/brush hybrid tool is included with the hearing aids, but it’s not a convenient or discreet way to adjust the volume.

Still, if price is your main consideration, as it is for many people with hearing loss, Audien could be a great place to start.

Customer service

Payment options

  • Credit card

Learn more about Audien from our Audien hearing aids review.

Best Invisible Fit: Eargo

Eargo unboxing all products

Pros 45-day trial period 1–2 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)
  • Price per pair: $1,450–$2,950
  • Hearing aid style: Completely-in-canal
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App, tapping the hearing aid, or remote assistance
  • Standard warranty: 1 year (Eargo 5, Max, and Neo HiFi) or 2 years (Eargo 6)
  • Financing available: Yes

Eargo sells four 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.”

Our Reviews Team liked the variety of tips and domes that Eargo provided with the hearing aids we tested (see Figure 1), allowing each person to find the fit that was most comfortable for them. 

Figure 1 Eargo tips and domes unboxed by our Reviews Team

eargo tips domees best otc hearing aids

Our Reviews Team talked with Brian Murray, a hearing instrument specialist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he pointed out that two styles and sizes of tips may not fit every ear canal. He also cautioned that people with certain types or degrees of hearing loss need a BTE or RIC-style hearing aid rather than an ITE or CIC style. For more information on hearing aid styles, read our hearing aids buyer’s guide

Many people like the discreet look of smaller hearing aids that fit completely in the ear, but if you try one of those styles and still have trouble hearing or understanding speech, it’s worth a trip to a hearing care clinic for an in-person exam to get a more accurate picture of your hearing loss. Your hearing specialist can also evaluate whether your current OTC hearing aids are meeting your needs, or whether you could get greater benefit from a different type of hearing aid.

All Eargo devices are rechargeable, so you won’t have to worry about changing batteries. This can also save money over time by removing the cost of replacement disposable batteries. 

Other than the battery type, each Eargo model has its own set of unique features, which are outlined in Table 3.

Table 3 Comparison of Eargo hearing aids, as of November 2022

Eargo Max

Eargo Neo HiFi

Eargo 5

Eargo 6

Price per pair

$1,450

$1,950

$2,450

$2,950

App for adjustments?

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Battery life (hours)

16

16

16

16

Water resistant?

No

No

No

Yes

Number of listening settings

4

4

6*

6*

Warranty length (years)

1

1

1

2

*Settings can also be customized to your preferences using the Eargo app

Eargo hearing aids provide Bluetooth connectivity, so you can use the Eargo mobile app for making adjustments and getting remote support from an Eargo hearing specialist. But Eargo hearing aids are too small to include Bluetooth streaming technology. If streaming music or phone calls to your hearing aids is important to you, consider OTC brands Jabra Enhance or Audicus, both of which provide that feature.

The Eargo 6 also provides automatic sound adjustments, meaning that the hearing aids adjust your listening profile as you move between environments. On the other three models, you can make those adjustments yourself by tapping on the hearing aid or using the app.

You can either submit previous hearing test results or take a free online hearing screening on the Eargo website to find out if this brand is a good match for your needs. People with severe or profound hearing loss, for instance, will need to see an audiologist for prescription hearing aids. For more information on the different degrees of hearing loss, read our hearing aids buyer’s guide.

How to try Eargo hearing aids

Eargo will send you a free, non-working pair so you can see how they feel. If you decide you want to buy a pair, you have 45 days to make sure you’re happy with them. 

Eargo also offers free remote support from hearing specialists, which is important when buying OTC hearing aids online. You won’t be going in person to see an audiologist for help with your hearing aids, so buying from a company that offers care for a long period of time can make a big difference.

In addition to online sales, Eargo hearing aids will also be available in retail stores soon.

Customer service

Payment options

  • Credit card
  • PayPal

Financing options

Eargo also offers the following discounts:

Learn more about Eargo from our Eargo hearing aid review.

Best Rechargeable Hearing Aid for the Money: MDHearing

MDHearing best otc hearing aids

Pros Affordably priced hearing aids with a range of features Lower in cost than many other brands
Cons Shortest warranty of any OTC hearing aid
  • Price per pair: $299–$699
  • Hearing aid style: Behind-the-ear
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes (Volt and Volt Max), No (Air)
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes (Volt Max)
  • Adjustment: App (Volt Max) or buttons on the hearing aid 
  • Standard warranty: 90 days 
  • Financing available: Yes

MDHearing makes two models of rechargeable hearing aids. Both are priced affordably compared to other OTC brands, making this brand our Reviews Team’s top pick for “Best Rechargeable Hearing Aid for the Money.”

While Audien has two hearing aids with rechargeable batteries that last a bit longer (20–24 hours) than MDHearing (15–20 hours) between charges, the features of MDHearing devices are considerably more advanced than those of Audien. 

The Volt Max is an FDA-cleared, self-fitting hearing aid that can be adjusted with the MDHearing app to match your hearing loss profile.5 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. 

Customer experience with MDHearing

One important consideration with any type of hearing aid is the quality of care you receive after the purchase, and we were impressed with the remote care offered by MDHearing. The father of one of our Reviews Team members recently purchased MDHearing Volt+ hearing aids. On the first day, he experienced some whistling in one of the devices, which can be caused by feedback, earwax, or not having the device fully inserted into the ear canal. 

After talking with the MDHearing audiology team by phone and adjusting the fit (which was done by emailing photos and receiving the audiologist’s feedback), he was able to eliminate the whistling noise. “I am really amazed at how well these work and how much I can hear,” he said.

MDHearing offers a free online hearing test, along with a complimentary consultation with an MDHearing audiologist. They will assess your hearing test results and advise you on whether MDHearing devices would fit your needs, or whether you need an in-person evaluation.

The variety of features offered at a relatively low price and the great customer service are two selling points of this brand. The biggest drawback is the short 90-day warranty that only covers manufacturer’s defects. You can purchase an extended warranty that covers damage and defects, but not loss or theft. Called the MDShield Protection Plan, the extended warranty is available for a monthly fee of $3.99–$14.99, depending on your model.   

Customer service

Payment options

  • Credit card

Financing options

  • Affirm

Most Financing Options: Audicus

audicus best otc hearing aids

Pros 45-day trial period Bluetooth streaming Multiple color options Treatment for mild to severe hearing loss
Cons Fairly short battery life One of the more expensive OTC hearing aid brands
  • Price per pair: $1,898–$3,398
  • Hearing aid style: Receiver-in-canal, behind-the-ear, in-the-canal
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes (Wave, Spirit, Omni)
  • Bluetooth and mobile app capabilities: Yes
  • Adjustment: App or buttons on hearing aid
  • Standard warranty: 2 years
  • Financing available: Yes

While increased competition among OTC hearing aid manufacturers is expected to drive prices down, hearing aids are still an expensive purchase. For many people, financing can mean the difference between treating their hearing loss and having to wait. 

Audicus offers four models of OTC hearing aids along with multiple financing options, making it our choice for the “Most Financing Options.” And while Audicus offers more financing options 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.

Like MDHearing, Audicus offers a range of devices with different features and prices. See Table 5 to compare the different models.

Table 5 Comparison of Audicus hearing aids, as of November 2022

Mini

Wave

Spirit

Omni

Price per pair

$1,998

$1,398

$2,398

$2,998

Monthly membership cost

$109

$89

$129

$159

Style

CIC

RIC

RIC

RIC

App for adjustments?

No

No

Yes

Yes

Water resistant?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth streaming

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Battery type

Disposable

Rechargeable or disposable

Rechargeable or disposable

Rechargeable or disposable

Audicus subscription plan

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

To take advantage of the subscription plan, you must sign an 18-month contract. 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

This could be a good option if you’re new to hearing aids and want to try them out on a rental basis before committing to a purchase.

Other financing options 

Audicus also has three financing options for people who need hearing aids but can’t afford to pay up front, or who just want to spread their payments out. First, Care Credit, which supplies a payment plan that’s interest free if you pay off the balance within 12 months. 

Allegro is the second financing option. It provides financing for people with lower credit scores, but is only available if you’re purchasing the Omni or Spirit.

Finally, Audicus finances its hearing aids directly, with 6-, 12-, or 18-month payment plans. With multiple hearing aid models and payment plans to choose from, a wide range of customers can find something from Audicus that works for both their hearing needs and their budget.

Customer service

Payment options

  • Credit card
  • PayPal

Financing options

  • Care Credit: Interest-free if fully paid in 12 months
  • Allegro: Financing option for those with lower credit scores, available for Omni and Spirit models only
  • Payment plan: Audicus offers 6-, 12-, and 18-month plans

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.

According to the FDA’s final rule on OTC hearing aids passed in August 2022, OTC hearing aids are appropriate for people over the age of 18 with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.6

Amy Sapodin, a doctor of audiology in New York City, points out that availability of OTC hearing aids has the potential to help many people with hearing loss. “Early intervention is key for the long-term health of your auditory system,” said Sapodin. “The new category of OTC hearing devices is intended to increase accessibility and awareness for the need to treat difficulty hearing in its early stages, not just when it’s unlivable. The new ruling will, hopefully, be the impetus people need to prioritize hearing, as it is often one of the last on folks’ health care checklist. It will also remove barriers to access to hearing solutions for those who cannot afford prescription hearing aids.”

OTC hearing aids are not the same as personal sound amplification products (PSAPs). Unlike hearing aids, PSAPs magnify all sounds equally, are not designed to treat hearing loss, and are not regulated by the FDA.7

For more information, read our detailed overview of OTC hearing aids.

How do OTC hearing aids work?

OTC hearing aids have been made available for purchase by legislation the FDA passed in August 2022. The FDA’s final rule on OTC hearing aids created new regulations for hearing aids that can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, without the need for a prescription or in-person appointment with an audiologist.

Where to buy OTC hearing aids

OTC hearing aids began hitting stores in mid-October 2022, and you can now buy them online and in stores that carry health care devices, such as Walgreens, Best Buy, and Walmart. Look for OTC hearing aids in the pharmacy section.

How are OTC hearing aids regulated?

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.8 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.

You may see labels on hearing aids regarding their FDA registration, approval, or clearance. Let’s take a look at each term to see what they mean.

FDA regulation

Products that are registered with the FDA have listed their manufacturing facility and provided information about their manufacturing process. Medical device companies in the United States are required to register with the FDA every year. FDA registration does not mean the FDA has tested a product or deemed it to be safe, nor does it imply FDA clearance or approval.9

OTC hearing aids that are not self-fitting (but instead have preset profiles you can select from) are designated by the FDA as Class I medical devices, meaning they pose little or no risk of harm when used according to the label instructions. These devices are typically only FDA-registered.

FDA clearance and approval

Self-fitting hearing aids, because they involve more detailed adjustments by the user, are Class II medical devices and require the manufacturer to submit clinical research findings, safety data, and performance information to prove their safety and efficacy. 

Devices that successfully complete the process receive FDA clearance. You may also see this listed as 510(k) approval. You can look up any hearing aid brand to see which of its devices have undergone this process in the FDA’s database.10

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

Pros/cons of OTC hearing aids

While OTC hearing aids are an exciting opportunity for many people, allowing them to buy more affordable hearing aids with fewer appointments, the devices do have drawbacks compared to prescription hearing aids. Let’s look at the pros and cons of OTC hearing aids.

Pros

  • Cost: The OTC hearing aids on the market are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, and the price is expected to drop even more in the future due to increased competition. 
  • Availability: OTC hearing aids are available online and in a few stores that carry health care devices. Retail chains that sell OTC hearing aids include Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens.
  • Ease of use: OTC hearing aids are designed to be adjusted by the user. Manufacturers have made them easy to use right out of the box with clear instruction manuals, volume dials, and program settings that can be adjusted directly on the hearing aids—or in a smartphone app for some models. Our Reviews Team found that nearly every brand was easy to set up and use, without professional assistance. 

Cons

  • Limited in-person care: If you’re new to hearing aids or don’t feel at ease using technology, the lack of in-person care by a hearing specialist could be a drawback to OTC hearing aids. Every brand except Audien offers remote support from audiologists or other hearing specialists, and you can also call or email your hearing aid manufacturer for help. But remote support still doesn’t give you the option to have a hearing specialist fit your hearing aid in person. 
  • Fewer features: Because OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, they don’t include the most advanced hearing technology some top-of-the-line brands do. For instance, prescription brand Oticon uses machine learning to teach the hearing aid which sounds you hear most often. Then your hearing aids can optimally process sounds in your environment for the most natural listening experience possible. You won’t find that type of technology in an OTC hearing aid, but many people find they have a high level of success with OTC devices even without cutting-edge technology. If you have a specific type of hearing loss, such as one-sided hearing loss or tinnitus, you may need a more expensive prescription device. It all depends on your unique needs and your budget.
  • Not appropriate for all levels of hearing loss: Remember that OTC hearing aids are only approved for use in adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. If you’ve been told by a hearing specialist you have severe or profound hearing loss, you will need to buy prescription hearing aids.

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 an average of $3,000 per pair compared to the average price of prescription hearing aids.11

A number of factors influence the cost of hearing aids. Features and technology are two of the biggest indicators of cost. Audien, for example, is a budget hearing aid that starts at a price of $99 per pair, but it has very few features. 

At the higher end of OTC hearing aid prices is Audicus, with a cost of $3,398 for a pair of Omni hearing aids. They offer multiple listening profiles, automatic sound adjustments between environments, Bluetooth streaming, a smartphone app, and advanced sound processing.

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. 

This could be a smart idea if you have a coupon at one store or earn store points for shopping there.

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.12

Do Medicare or Medicaid cover hearing aids?

Medicare A and B do not cover the costs of hearing exams, hearing aids, or hearing aid supplies such as batteries, but some Medicare Advantage plans do. Check with your insurance provider to see if your plan includes hearing coverage. 

Medicaid coverage is different in each state. You can find the Medicaid hearing coverage available in your state through the Hearing Loss Association of America or by contacting your Medicaid case manager.13

Use NCOA’s Benefits CheckUp tool to see what other benefits you may qualify for.

Who are OTC hearing aids best suited for?

OTC hearing aids are a good solution for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. If your hearing loss is severe or profound, see an audiologist or other hearing care professional for advice on getting prescription hearing aids.

Although you can buy OTC hearing aids without a prescription, it’s still a good idea to have an in-person exam at a hearing clinic before you make a purchase. A hearing care specialist will do a physical exam of your ears to rule out any problems causing your hearing loss (such as wax buildup or other obstructions). They can also determine your level and type of hearing loss more precisely than an online hearing test.

Once you have received the hearing specialist’s recommendations, you can make an informed decision about whether OTC hearing aids will address your needs.

What to look for in OTC hearing aids

Technology

As mentioned above, the more features a hearing aid includes, the more expensive it will be. It’s worth thinking about which features are the most important to you and which you’re willing to pay for. Do you want to use an app to adjust settings and volume on your hearing aid? If so, you’ll want to choose a device with Bluetooth capability and a smartphone app. 

Are you interested in more advanced sound processing? Certain brands, such as Jabra Enhance, Eargo, Lexie, and Audicus, offer higher-end technology in sound processing. 

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 very 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. 

It’s ideal to have a trial period of at least 45 days, because hearing specialists say new hearing aid users may need several weeks to get used to their new devices.14 Most states require hearing aid dispensers to provide a trial period. To see 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 do 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.

Still 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.

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

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. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Devices@FDA. Found on the internet at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/devicesatfda/index.cfm
  5. 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/
  6. 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
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplification Products: What to Know. Found on the internet at https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/hearing-aids-and-personal-sound-amplification-products-what-know
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Devices@FDA. Found on the internet at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/devicesatfda/index.cfm
  11. 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/
  12. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services. Found on the internet at https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/Hearing_Aids.asp
  13. Hearing Loss Association of America. Medicaid. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/financial-assistance/medicaid/
  14. Hearing Loss Association of America. Consumer Protection Laws. Found on the internet at https://www.hearingloss.org/wp-content/uploads/ConsumerProtectionLaws.pdf

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