OTC hearing aids became available in October 2022, following the release of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rule, which outlined regulatory guidelines for the new category.9 Based on our Reviews Team’s research, OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, with a general price range of $299–$2,500 per pair.
Compared to the average price of $4,600 for a pair of prescription hearing aids, OTC devices can potentially save you a lot of money.10 But all hearing aids are expensive, and it’s definitely worth checking to see if your insurance plan will pay for part or all of the cost.
Keep in mind OTC hearing aids are only appropriate for adults 18 and over with mild to moderate hearing loss. You can purchase them without a hearing exam or prescription, although in-person hearing exams are a great idea before buying any type of hearing aid.
Some hearing clinics offer exams free of charge, and many insurance plans (even those that don’t pay for hearing aids) will pay for a hearing exam. The exam usually lasts about an hour, is painless, and doesn’t place you under any obligation to buy a hearing aid. It does give a hearing specialist the chance to examine your ears and hearing ability and rule out any causes of hearing loss that may need treatment other than hearing aids.
In-person exams also provide a much more detailed measurement of your hearing loss profile, so you can find the hearing aid that will best meet your needs and preferences.
If you’ve determined you do have mild to moderate hearing loss that can be treated with OTC devices, the next step is to see which brands may be covered by insurance. While most insurance plans don’t currently cover OTC hearing aids, there are a few plans that do.
OTC hearing aids your insurance may pay for
Eargo and NationsBenefits formed a partnership in December 2022 to help customers pay for hearing aids. NationsBenefits administers supplemental benefits for a variety of insurance providers. If you’re interested in buying Eargo hearing aids, check with your insurance company to see if you have supplemental hearing benefits administered through NationsBenefits and where the nearest in-network hearing care provider is located.
MDHearing is another OTC hearing aids company that recently partnered with a health insurance company. Joining forces with Medline in February 2023, MDHearing and Medline are working to improve access to hearing aids by increasing Medicare Advantage and Medicaid coverage for MDHearing devices.
We spoke with Katie Lavelle, director of business development and insurance benefits at Medline, who said customers can look for these benefits to go into effect in 2024. Read our MDHearing aids review for more details on this brand.
Hopefully, we’ll see Medicare and private insurance plans expand coverage for OTC hearing aids in the next few years.