(The Hill) — The White House on Monday marked the introduction of hearing aids sold at retailers such as Walgreens, CVS and Walmart, following moves by the Biden administration to allow them to be sold over the counter.
On Monday, Walgreens began selling the hearing aids in stores and online for $799 a pair, CVS began selling them online at various prices, and Walmart began selling them at more than 1,000 in-store vision centers and 474 Sam’s Club locations, ranging from $199 to $999 per pair.
Also this week, Best Buy will offer nearly 20 different hearing aids online and will offer hearing aids in nearly 300 stores by the end of the month for just $200. In addition, Hy-Vee will sell them online and at 34 locations with plans to sell them at 100 locations by the end of the year.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule in August allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter and said they could be available as early as mid-October in retail and pharmacy stores. The rule is part of President Joe Biden’s Executive Order to Promote Competition in the American Economy, which he issued in July 2021.
Congress passed over-the-counter hearing aid legislation in 2017, but it wasn’t fully implemented until the FDA rules. This rule allows people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase hearing aids over the counter without the need for a medical exam, prescription or fitting.
The FDA estimates that this rule could reduce average costs by as much as $3,000 per pair of hearing aids, which could affect nearly 30 million Americans with hearing loss, including nearly 10 million adults under the age of 60.