A financially challenged friend has discovered that Walmart is selling OTC hearing aids from “Hearing Assist” for $699.97 and is excited about getting something she can afford. The HA-802 model looks a lot like a “real” hearing aid – it has frequency adjustment to adapt to your audio-gram, programs to adapt to the environment, can be set up via a smart phone and has rechargeable batteries. Has anyone had any experience with these?
OTC is not available in the US yet, probably within a year. What she is looking at is most likely a PSAP (personal sound amplifying product) Some are pretty good, others no so much. If she can’t afford real hearing aids, she might want to contact the local Lions Club, hearing is one of their causes and many will donate hearing aids. Depending on your friend’s loss, she might do OK with a PSAP. Proper fitting and programming can make an OK product actually work pretty good.
Starkey Hearing aid has a Hear Now program for low income people. I think they charge $125.00 per aid, but they will give you standard hearing aids, programmed at an office . You have to apply and be accepted.
I just saw the Walmart commercial about the hearing aids in central Texas.
Sure looked available.
Free two day delivery, even.
A little google-fu tells me these do look to be a little more on the personal sound amplifier side. They are analogous to the 1x, 2x, 3x magnifying reading glasses. While they might help some people with very specific, and mild hearing losses, they will not cover the entire spectrum of losses.
Note that these are only 4-channel, amplify up to 43db, and do not address compression.
That said, Walmart’s return policy is free for 30 days, and $14.95 for 60 days, it might be worth a look for you.
Here are the specs:
Two ReCharge! BTE Hearing Aids for both right and left ear with Bluetooth-App control capabilities (smart device required) Self Hearing Check with Optimization to your personal needs via the smartphone app Ultimate control over volume, background sounds, frequency amplification and more Four channel digital Hearing Aids Four sound programs to suit your environment Crystal clear digital sound quality Up to 43dB of amplification Advanced layered background noise reduction Feedback Suppression Magnetic charging dock with dual charging ports & Plug Adapter Simple, Illustrated Instruction Manual Multiple ear cap sizes 1 year warranty 60 day money back guarantee US-based customer service group with strong technical capabilities--call with any questions at 800-640-9785
Thanks, guys. This product sounds like a classic 80/20 situation: 80 percent of the solution for 20 percent of the price (at least for people with mild hearing loss) - I guess for most value-oriented consumers, Costco’s KS8s are a better answer. It is interesting to see this market place evolve - - -
FA few of the PSAP sellers have found a loophole in the FDA regulations. It turns out that most hearing aids do not require pre-market approval. So while you can’t call anything an over the counter hearing aid yet, it may be entirely possible to just call it a hearing aid and stay within FDA regulations.
I would note that the device in question is from Hearing Assist which just showed up in Dr. Cliff’s Worst Online Hearing Aids of 2019.
Edit - As a matter of fact, I think I may drop a note to my state licensing agency this evening, NY requires that hearing aids be dispensed only by licensed audiologists, hearing aid specialist, or certain physicians. I am pretty sure the pick up desk at Walmart doesn’t qualify.
I am not saying these are good hearing aids or whatever they are. Just saw a commercial that related to the OP.
It is interesting where the OTC hearing aid business is headed.
I buy prescription glasses from Zenni. I email my doctors prescription to them and they build me some glasses. I can see this happening with hearing aids too. It gets you past the medical issues too. With everything going wireless it seems like a no brainer.
True we are not there yet. But it is on the way and will be coming fast. Good hearing aids and good audiologists have helped many of us. BUT, there is a lot of scam out there. Most of us with mild to moderate hearing loss will soon be able to do very well with far less expensive devices. And there will be a lot of defensiveness and resistance from audiologists and hearing aids manufacturers. Some D&R here as well I expect.