Opening the Market for Lower Cost Hearing Aids: Regulatory Change Can Improve the Health of Older Americans

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Hearing loss is a leading cause of disability among older people. Yet only one in seven US adults who could benefit from a hearing aid uses one. This fraction has not increased over the past 30 years, nor have hearing aid prices dropped, despite trends of steady improvements and price reductions in the consumer electronics industry.

The President’s Council on Science and Technology has proposed changes in the regulation of hearing aids, including the creation of a “basic” low-cost over-the-counter category of devices.

We discuss the potential to reduce disability as well as to improve public health, stakeholder responses to the president’s council’s proposal, and public health efforts to further mitigate the burden of disability stemming from age-related hearing loss.

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