Hearing experts welcome FDA approval of over-the-counter hearing aids - MedCity News

One of the main barriers to accessing hearing care is affordability, with the cost of prescription hearing aids varying from $1000 to $4000. A new collaboration between UnitedHealthcare Hearing and AARP aims to make them easier on the pocket.

UnitedHealthcare Hearing is part of UnitedHealthcare and has a network of more than 7,000 hearing care providers nationwide. AARP, meanwhile, is a nonprofit organization that serves about 38 million members who are at least 50 years old.

Through the partnership that was announced last week, AARP members can purchase prescription and over-the-counter hearing aids UnitedHealthcare hearing. AARP members — even if not covered by UnitedHealthcare — can purchase prescription hearing aids starting at $699, as well as receive a free hearing test and hearing aid consultation from the payer’s network of hearing providers.

AARP members can also receive virtual care and a 15% discount on hearing care products, including hearing accessories and assistive listening devices. In addition, they can receive one year of follow-up care with supplier at no additional cost.

Those seeking the program’s services can begin by going to AARP Hearing Solutions website. They start with an online hearing test, choose how they want to receive care, and visit a hearing care professional who can help them decide which products are best for them.

The program is able to sell these hearing aids at a low cost because it serves such a large group of people, said Dave Falda, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Hearing.

“As one of the largest hearing aid providers in the country, we have the ability to leverage economies of scale and have established strategic relationships with key manufacturers and care providers to offer members such affordable prices,” Falda said.

UnitedHealthcare Hearing has been around for more than a decade, providing care to its own members. Working with AARP allows him to expand his services, Falda said.

“We just have an opportunity to help more people,” he said in an interview. “Hearing unfortunately affects millions of people, and it is reported that a large proportion of people, for whatever reason, cannot or do not seek hearing care.”

In fact, about 13% of all adults and 27% of adults 65 and older have hearing difficulties, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hearing loss linked to higher rates of dementia, depression and fall injuries, University of Michigan reported.

Greg Marion, AARP’s senior vice president of healthcare products and services, described the partnership with UnitedHealthcare and the “exclusive pricing” for OTC products as a game changer.

“AARP members will benefit from access to UnitedHealthcare Hearing’s extensive network of hearing centers and its commitment to providing quality hearing care,” Marion said in a statement.

Photo: PIKSEL, Getty Images

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