Hearing aids are classified as medical devices, because they are medical devices. Just like antibiotics are a medicine, and contact lenses are prescribed by a qualified professional.
You could make the same argument about the entire health care industry in the US. The entire system is a for profit system. When you go visit your doctor and there’s a video running about health care in the lobby, who do you think paid for the TV? Who do you think sends the DVDs they play? Who do you think provides the ‘free’ samples?
Pretty much all medical professionals in all fields are influenced by industry forces. Much like our politicians are bought and paid for by various lobby groups, special interests, and corporations.
Not really true, there are plenty of places one can go and read detailed peer reviewed journal articles and academic papers covering a wide variety of ways that hearing loss is being treated and advancement in the field.
The last medical study I read on this said that typically a patient can take 6-52 weeks to obtain maximum benefit from their hearing aids. This means that whatever they get on day one is academic; their brain will continue to adapt to the technology over time, often weeks and months. It would be meaningless to conduct a ‘test’ on the day of fitting to conclusively prove the effectiveness of the hearing aids. It would be like giving a driving test to a teen who just got behind the wheel for the first time that day.
Correcting a hearing loss (which BTW is completely different from correcting a vision problem as an example) takes weeks and months for the brain to utilize the hearing that is still working, together with the artificial sound from the hearing aids. Often a patient has waited years with the problem, teaching the brain how not to hear, and failing to provide the proper stimulation for parts of the brain that deal with hearing.
There are tests that can be done to prove the benefits of a hearing aid, but where would these be if hearing aids were not a medical device? You seem to be arguing for deregulation of the industry, and moving towards off the shelf hearing aids at Walmart. In that world, where are the hearing professionals who are going to help with rehabilitation and meeting goals and satisfaction levels.
Well let’s see. Under the current system, most patients can take advantage of a free hearing test; whereas most medical testing costs hundreds to thousands of dollars. The patient is usually given a state mandated 30 day satisfaction guarantee, along with generous exchange opportunities in the first 2-3 months. Many clinics go above and beyond what the law requires and offers 45-60 day trials.
It’s not often you can buy a custom designed product, try it for 60 days and return it for a complete refund. It’s not often you can meet with a licensed, trained, and qualified person with 10-20 years of experience, and get free advice without obligation.
As I have said before, the issue in America isn’t that hearing aids are considered medical devices (as they are in most industrialized countries), the issue is that we have a capitalist system, for profit private health care, and little to no back up plan for poor or low income families who need help.
Don’t blame the industry for the failings of the American health care system.