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9 Best Over-The-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids In 2024

January 9, 2024
Blake Cadwell
Written by
Blake Cadwell
Blake Cadwell

Blake Cadwell is a hearing aid wearer and co-founder at Soundly. He regularly tests and reviews hearing technology to share his experience with Soundlyโ€™s readers. Blake's research and perspectives have been featured in the The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, AARP and FastCompany.

Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Reviewed by
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

Our research for this guide included:

- 200+ Hours of Hands-On Reviews
- 3 Licensed Audiologists Consulted
- 50+ Total Brands Reviewed
- 1,000+ Customer Reviews Considered

Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Overall Value

No Doctor's Visit and 100 Day Returns

  • Bluetooth enabled and rechargeable
  • 100-day risk-free trial
  • Nearly invisible with a sleek design
9.5
Excellent
Best Selling OTC

Our Top-Rated OTC Hearing Aid

  • Starting at $799 per pair
  • Intuitive self-fitting app
  • Carried at Best Buy, CVS, Walmart and more
9.3
Excellent
OTC With Premium Sound

Premium-Grade Sound Quality

  • Starting at $999 per pair
  • Built by the top hearing aid manufacturer in collaboration with Sennheiser
  • Self-fit using a smartphone app
  • Best for background noise management
9.8
Excellent

In October 2022, the FDA outlined new guidelines for the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids in the U.S. The move has significant implications for hearing aid wearers like me and the hearing health space in general. It's the biggest and most exciting thing to happen in hearing health in 50 years.

A year ago, it was anyone's guess how the legislation would shift the overall hearing market. Now, with a year under our belt and a stack of OTC hearing aids in our test studio, it's time to look at the best products in the market.

In this guide, we'll look at the state of OTC hearing aids, the leading brands on the market, and where things could go from here.

If you are still trying to decide between OTC and prescription options check out our decision guide here.

Stick around until the end of this article for answers to some frequently asked questions and a little more OTC hearing aid history.

Prefer to watch?

Here's our take on the state of the OTC hearing aid market right now. ๐Ÿ‘‡

Before we get into products, let's start with a bit of background.

Why did the FDA create a new class of hearing aids?

Research consistently shows that hearing aids are one of the best investments someone can make in their overall health. Hearing aids increase the quality of life and relationships while decreasing risks of dementia, falls, and more. New research from Johns Hopkins showed that hearing aids decrease the long-term effects dementia by as much as 48%.

Like glasses or other basic assistive technology, better access to hearing aids is good for everyone.

The problem with the existing model.

Hearing aids are notoriously expensive, and most people don't get help from insurance (more about that here).

One reason that hearing aids cost several thousand dollars is that, until October 2022, they required a highly trained professional to program them during an in-person doctor's visit. That same professional typically bundles in 4-5 additional visits for ongoing adjustments and support. Overhead costs add up.

The FDA and lawmakers like Chuck Grassley and Elizabeth Warren created the new OTC hearing aid category to give a budget-friendly option to those with mild-moderate hearing loss.

What You Need to Know About OTC Hearing Aids

Images of various over-the-counter hearing aids

The basics: 

  • OTC hearing aids do not require a doctor's visit
  • OTC hearing aid makers must comply with various FDA to legally use a "self-fit" and "OTC" titles
  • Many OTC hearing aids offer a smartphone app which programs your hearing aids
  • Several leading OTC brands offer excellent customer service, but most of the process is self-service

OTC customization approaches:

One big distinction between various OTC hearing aids is the way they are programmed to match your hearing loss. Every person's hearing loss is unique with different frequencies that need more or less of a boost. We see three programming strategies in the current market: 

  • Preset programs: Not customized to you specifically (least expensive)
  • Freeform controls: Gives you dials to freely adjust across frequencies (mid-tier or premium price).
  • Onboard test: Tests your hearing aids and programs your device automatically (premium price)

Here's an overview of our top OTC hearing aids in 2024.

Hearing Aid Price / Pair Style Bluetooth Battery Warranty
Jabra Enhance Select $1,995 Behind-The-Ear iPhone & Android Rechargeable 3 Years
Lexie B2 Powered By Bose $899 Behind-The-Ear iPhone Only Rechargeable 1 Year
Sennheiser All Day Clear $1,399 Behind-The-Ear iPhone & Android Rechargeable 1 Year
Sony CRE-E10 $1,299 In-The-Ear iPhone Only Rechargeable 1 Year
Lucid Engage $799 Behind-The-Ear iPhone or Android Rechargeable 1 Year
Jabra Enhance Plus $499 In-The-Ear iPhone Only Rechargeable 1 Year
MDHearing $297 Multiple No Rechargeable 1 Year
Go Ultra $499 Behind-The-Ear iPhone or Android Rechargeable 1 Year
Eargo 7 $2,499 In-The-Ear No Rechargeable 2 Years
Sony CRE-C10 $999 In-The-Ear No Disposable 1 Year

Our overall OTC Hearing aid pick for 2024...

There are several impressive OTC hearing aids on the market, but our favorite overall for value, features, and support is Jabra Enhance Select. Jabra earns this spot for its integrated approach to telehealth and support. Like other OTC hearing aids, Jabra sells its products directly to consumers (no doctor's office visits), but unlike other OTC brands, Jabra offers remote programming with its hearing aids. That means that a trained hearing health professional can remotely log into your devices and make program updates without much tinkering from your side.

Jabra's hearing aids are more expensive than other OTC devices but offer a great overall value and use the same underlying technology as ReSound OMNIA.

Jabra Enhance Select Hearing Aids
Jabra Enhance Select
Best Overall Value

Jabra Enhance Select

Jabra Enhance Select

$1,195 - $1,995 / pair
Listen to a demo
pause
Affordable
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Rechargeable
Professional Fitting

Jabra Enhance Select hearing aids are made by the world's 4th largest hearing aid manufacturer (ReSound). Jabra Enhance (originally called Lively) made a name for itself by recreating the full-service audiology service online.

Instead of requiring you to come into their office, Jabra reduces the cost by programming remotely and shipping to your home.

All Jabra products come with a 100-day return policy and 3 years of unlimited remote care. You can find the same product for sale at a local clinic for around $4,500.

Get started by filling out Jabra's online survey via the right-hand corner of their website.

  • โ€Overall notes: If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, are on a budget, and want a hearing professional to program your hearing aids to match your hearing loss, this is one of the most compelling products on the market.โ€
  • Price: $1,395 for a pair of battery-powered - $1,695 for a pair of rechargeable, $1,995 for enhanced sound qualityโ€
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth (not hands-free), Behind The Ear Styleโ€
  • What audiologists say: โ€œTheir audiologists can personalize and program Jabra hearing aids in real-time; highlighting the benefits of telehealth and competent professionals.โ€ - Garrett Thompson, AuD
Soundly Scorecard
+
No items found.
Pros

One of the most affordable and convenient ways to purchase online while maintaining professional care

Comes with a 100 day free-return period

Offers rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth streaming

Cons

Remote care requires users to be somewhat tech savvy

Jabra only offers styles that sit behind the ear

Get Jabra Enhance Select prices and details ๐Ÿ‘‰
See Price

Best OTC hearing aids with Bluetooth.

Bluetooth streaming is now the default for most prescription hearing aids, but not all OTC devices allow music, podcasts, and phone calls to stream through your hearing aids. The devices below are our favorites with built-in Bluetooth connections. Android users should look at Lucid Engage and Sennheiser All Day Clear.

Image of Bose rechargeable hearing aids
Lexie B2+ Powered By Bose
Affordable and Rechargeable

Lexie B2+ Powered By Bose

Lexie B2+ Powered By Bose

$999 / pair
Affordable
Behind the Ear
Rechargeable
OTC
Bluetooth (iPhone Only)

In July 2022 Bose formed a strategic partnership with Lexie (a well respected hearing healthcare company) to release Lexie B1 hearing aids. In October they released a second model with rechargeable batteries. Then in May 2023 they added Bluetooth streaming capabilities for iPhone users. In January 2024 Lexie released a new and improved charger. Constant improvement on an already great product - we love to see it.

Lexie B1 and Lexie B2+ hearing aids are self-fit using an innovative app that allows hearing aid wearers to fit, program, and control their hearing aids with clinically proven, audiologist-quality results. Purchase B1 hearing aids for $849 or rechargeable B2+ hearing aids for $999 (compare models here).

  • How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing Bose online or at a local retailer
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ If you need further adjustments, Lexie has a team of licensed professionals who can make remote updates or provide technical advice.
  • โ€Overall notes: If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, are comfortable with smartphone tech, and are on a budget, Bose is one of the most compelling products available.โ€
  • Price: $849 for a pair of B1 hearing aids, $849 for a pair of B2 hearing aids or $999 for a pair of B2+ hearing aids
  • Features: Rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth Streaming for iPhone users, Programming app, Behind The Ear Styleโ€
  • What audiologists say: โ€œOne of the simplest to use OTC hearing aids, at a very competitive price. A solid option for those who want to self-manage their mild to moderate hearing loss.โ€ - Garrett Thompson, AuD
Pros

Strong underlying technology

Self-fitting using the Lexie app

Affordable and rechargeable

Cons

Bluetooth for iPhone only  

Only comes in one color

Costs $150 more than disposable battery version

More Reviews + The Latest Pricing and Discounts ๐Ÿ‘‰
See Price
Sennheiser OTC hearing aids
Sennheiser All Day Clear
Affordable and Rechargeable

Sennheiser All Day Clear

Sennheiser All Day Clear

$999 / pair
Affordable
Behind the Ear
Rechargeable
OTC
Bluetooth (Android and iPhone)

In August 2023, Sennheiser unveiled a new OTC hearing aid expected to compete with industry leaders like Bose, Sony, and Jabra. Sennheiser All-Day Clear is a full-featured hearing aid with Bluetooth streaming, hands-free calls (both Android and iPhone, an onboard hearing test, and easy to use app.

Our team tested All-Day Clear and compared it with Sonova's flagship brands - Phonak and Unitron. Our verdict? All-Day Clear has a few missing bells and whistles (more on that below), but the differences are not dealbreakers. The perfect candidate for All-Day Clear has mild-to-moderate hearing loss, is comfortable using a smartphone, and wants Sonova-made technology for a budget price.

  • How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing Sennheiser online or at a local retailer
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ If you need further adjustments, Sennheiser's technical team and give you some technical advice, but is not highly trained in hearing health matters.
  • โ€Overall notes: Based on our reviews, this hearing aid is the most complete offering in the over-the-counter market so far. โ€
  • Price: $999 for All-Day Clear with complimentary setup care through Soundly
  • Features: Rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth Streaming for iPhone and Android users, Excellent Programming app, Behind-The-Ear Styleโ€
Pros

Underlying technology and sound-processing from Sonova (top global manufacturer)

Self-fitting using the Sennheiser app

Bluetooth streaming for iPhone and Android

Cons

Customer support is limited to tech troubleshooting Vs. health advice

Only comes in one color scheme

More expensive than some other OTC competitors

Read our Full Sennheiser Review ๐Ÿ‘‰
Learn More
Sony CRE-E10 Hearing Aids in hand
Sony CRE-E10 Hearing Aids
Headphone Hearing Aid Crossover

Sony CRE-E10 Hearing Aids

Sony CRE-E10 Hearing Aids

$1,299 / pair
Affordable
In the Ear
Rechargeable
Bluetooth

Sony teamed up with WS Audiology (the second-largest hearing company in the world) to co-create its products. Sony's CRE-E10 is slightly larger than CRE-C10 but comes with a slick headphone-like design, rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth streaming (currently only available for iOS).

This hearing aid offers prescription-grade sound quality controlled through your smartphone at home (no doctor involved). Sony's hearing aids were released in mid-October and reviews have been glowing. We expect CRE-E10 to be a leading consideration among people looking for a headphone/hearing aid hybrid.

  • โ€How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing Sony hearing aids online (likely coming to brick-and-mortar stores soon)
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the Sony Hearing Control app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ Use the app to make real-time volume and sound quality adjustments.
    โœ”๏ธ If you need customer support, you can contact Sony's customer service team. โ€
  • Price: $1,399 on Amazon
  • Features: Self-fit using an app, Bluetooth streaming enabled for iPhone, stylish earbud design.
Pros

Rechargeable

Modern design

Self-fit at home

Cons

Not compatible with Android

More visible than smaller options

Likely less comfortable for all-day wear

Shop CRE-E10 On Amazon ๐Ÿ‘‰
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Lucid OTC Hearing Aid Customization
Engage From Lucid Hearing
Sam's Club Upgrade Option

Engage From Lucid Hearing

Engage From Lucid Hearing

$799
Affordable
Behind the Ear
Rechargeable
OTC
Bluetooth

Lucid Hearing is an under-the-radar brand in the OTC market but has some of the strongest technology and experience. The brand is best known as the manufacturer behind all of the Sam's Club hearing center hearing aids.

The brand released two impressive OTC devices in late 2022. Engage is Lucid's rechargeable, Bluetooth enabled and self-fit hearing aid that sits behind the ear. The product comes in several colors and has one of the most stable Bluetooth connections due to a patented antenna.โ€

  • โ€How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing Lucid Engage hearing aids online.
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ If you need further adjustments you can take your hearing aids to a nearby Samโ€™s Club for free service or call Lucidโ€™s hearing specialists.
  • โ€Price: $799 for a pair  โ€
  • Features: Rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth streaming enabled for Android and iPhone, fully customized to your hearing loss using an app, behind the ear style.

โ€

Pros

Bluetooth streaming for iPhone and Android

Rechargeable

Self-fit

Cons

Packaging and recharge case are less sleek than Bose and Sony

โ€

Purchase Lucid Engage online or at select retailers ๐Ÿ‘‰
See Price
Jabra Enhance Plus
Best Hearing Aid Headphone Hybrid

Jabra Enhance Plus

Jabra Enhance Plus

$499 / pair
In the Ear
Rechargeable
OTC
Affordable

Jabra Enhance Plus is a new product from GN Hearing (the parent company to ReSound). The earbud-style product is self-customized to your hearing loss and can alternate between amplifying the sounds around you, playing music and podcasts or both.

You can read my full review of Jabra Enhance Plus here. It hasnโ€™t replaced my hearing aids, but it offers a great starting point for someone who isnโ€™t ready to take the leap and needs support in specific situations.

  • How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids online.
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ If you need further support you can call Jabra's customer service team.
  • โ€Overall notes: Jabra Enhance Plus won't replace your all-day hearing aids but they can provide a boost to those with mild to moderate hearing loss that aren't ready to take the leap. โ€
  • Price: $799 for a pairโ€
  • Features: Self-fit, simple to get started, modern design, Bluetooth streaming and rechargeability
Pros

Modern headphone appearance

Fantastic music and podcast quality

Easy to use app

Cons

Not as comfortable as traditional hearing aids for all-day use

Picks up some wind noise

โ€

Purchase Jabra Enhance Plus online or at select retailers ๐Ÿ‘‰
Learn More

โ€Best low-cost OTC hearing aids.

Cost-savings are one significant benefit of going OTC. The average cost of hearing aids in the U.S. is $4,500, and the average OTC device sells for around $1,000. Still, some folks are on the hunt for even lower prices. We've found that $500 per pair is generally the break point for decent-quality hearing aids. Go Ultra and MDHearing (below) aren't built for complex background noise management, but they can do the job in more straightforward situations at 10% of the cost of traditional devices.

MDHearing Aid Image in Hand
MDHearing Volt Max
Most Affordable and Rechargeable

MDHearing Volt Max

MDHearing Volt Max

$297 - $699 / pair
Affordable
Behind the Ear
OTC
Rechargeable

MDHearing is a Chicago-based brand that has sold over 500,000 pairs of affordable hearing aids since 2009. The brand's most advanced product (Volt Max) has directional microphones and respectable noise reduction. MDHearing's latest in-the-ear product is impressively small and nearly invisible in many ears. Importantly, MDHearing devices are significantly less expensive than traditional products. Prices range from $297 - $699, depending on the model and promotion period.

MDHearing offers four models of hearing aids ranging from their in-canal, NEO XS to their budget-friendly, Air model. MDHearing offers four pre-set listening configurations based on expected hearing losses. This approach makes MDHearing less advanced than traditional competitors, but many customers feel the price is worth the tradeoff. MDHearing sells exclusively online and does not require a trip to a local audiologist. The brand has recently invested in a remote care team that includes audiologists and hearing aid dispensers. Customers who need further tune-ups or care can set up a telecare appointment with a professional for free.

All four MDHearing products are rechargeable with 12-20 hours of battery life (depending on the model).

MDHearing comes with a one-year warranty and a 45-day trial period for each purchase of the MDHearing Volt. These hearing aids have manual controls, allowing for volume adjustment and program changes.

  • How it works: 
  • โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing from MDHearing online
  • โœ”๏ธ Unbox your product and choose an environment setting
  • โœ”๏ธ MDHearing has a team of hearing professionals who can coach you through the self-fit process.
  • โ€Price: Starting at $297 for a pair โ€
  • Features: Rechargeable batteries are available for all models, four pre-set listening modes are available for most models, and no Bluetooth streaming is available
  • Our take: MDHearing devices offer less customization, background noise management, and features than prescription devices, but at 10% of the price, they are a compelling option for some folks with more straightforward listening needs.
Pros

Less than $500 for a pair

Rechargeable

Multiple styles available

Cons

No Bluetooth streaming

Slightly larger size

Only one color available

Less advanced than prescription devices

Compare MDHearing Products
Learn More
Go Ultra Product Images
Go Ultra From hearX
Affordable Bluetooth

Go Ultra From hearX

Go Ultra From hearX

$499
Affordable
In the Ear
Rechargeable

hearX's Go Ultra hearing aids sit behind-the-ear and come with four pre-set programs, Bluetooth streaming capabilities, and rechargeable batteries. Significantly, Go Ultra will sell for half the price of hearX's other product line (Lexie's B2 Powered By Bose). There's a clear dropoff in sound quality between Lexie B2 and Go Ultra, but the tradeoff may be forgiven by some users looking for a simple device at a lower cost.

  • โ€Overall notes: These devices do not manage background noise as well as premium options on the market. Still, Go Ultra gets some serious points for bringing the price point down to just $499 and packing in premium-style features like streaming and rechargeable batteries. โ€
  • Price: $499 / pairโ€
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth (not hands-free), Behind The Ear Styleโ€

โ€

Pros

One of the most affordable options on the market

Rechargeable batteries

Bluetooth streaming for Android and iPhone

Cons

Limited fine-tuning options

Less comfortable than premium RIC hearing aids

Larger than premium alternatives

Learn More About Go Ultra ๐Ÿ‘‰
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Best invisible OTC hearing aids.

Most hearing aids on this list sit behind the ear or look more like earbuds. If you are looking for an invisible OTC hearing aid inside the ear, you have a few decent options. Eargo is a premium device with fantastic sound and engineering and a higher price; Sony CRE-C10 is a simpler device with solid quality and a lower price.

Eargo
Only Rechargeable and Invisible Product On The Market

Eargo

Eargo

$1,650 - $2,950 / pair
In the Ear
OTC
Affordable
Rechargeable

Eargo is the disruptor in hearing health. Their product is rechargeable, invisible, and designed with a patented tip that allows your ears to breathe.

Eargo 7 was released in 2023 with new features that adapt to your environment as you move through your day. The company released Eargo SE and Eargo LINK in 2024 to expand their price range and features.

Think of this product as the Tesla of hearing health. Eargo is best for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. If you want to try something new, this is a great option.

  • How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ You can purchase Eargo products here on Soundly.com or through retailers like Best Buy.
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, youโ€™ll receive instructions to download the app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ If you purchase through Soundly.com a member of our team will join you for a complimentary setup call.
  • โ€Overall notes: Eargo stands out for its design, innovation, size, rechargeable batteries. The price is a bit higher than other OTC options but still lower than the national average. โ€
  • Price: $2,950 for Eargoโ€™s newest product โ€
  • Features: Invisible, self-programmed, rechargeableโ€
  • What audiologists say: โ€œIf you are looking for invisible devices Eargo is one of the best options on the market.โ€ - Ramsay Poindexter
Pros

Eargo is a tiny device that sits entirely inside the ear

Eargo is more affordable then custom mold hearing aids

Eargo is self fit using an app

Cons

Only appropriate for those with mild to moderate hearing loss

Requires some tinkering to fine tune the product

Eargo is not Bluetooth enabled due to the tiny size

Purchase Eargo Hearing Aids Through Soundly
Get Started
Hand holding Sony invisible hearing aids
Sony CRE-C10 Hearing Aid
Best Value: In Ear

Sony CRE-C10 Hearing Aid

Sony CRE-C10 Hearing Aid

$999 / pair
Affordable
In the Ear
OTC

Sony teamed up with WS Audiology (the second-largest hearing company in the world) to co-create its products. Sony's CRE-C10 devices are nearly invisible and offer prescription-grade sound quality controlled through your smartphone. CRE-C10 does not offer Bluetooth streaming or rechargeable batteries.
โ€
CRE-C10 uses a size 10 disposable battery that offers over 70 hours of continuous wear. Size 10 batteries are widely available and commonly used in small devices. Sony's hearing aids were released in mid-October, so there are few reviews of the product, but it's safe to say this will be a leading consideration for those who want an in-the-ear style device.

  • โ€How it works:
    โœ”๏ธ Start by purchasing Sony hearing aids online (likely coming to brick-and-mortar stores soon)
    โœ”๏ธ Once the product arrives at your home, you'll download the Sony Hearing Control app and self-program the hearing aids to match your hearing loss.
    โœ”๏ธ Use the app to make real-time volume and sound quality adjustments.
    โœ”๏ธ Soundly customers get a complimentary guided set up session with an expertโ€
  • Price: $999 โ€
  • Features: Self-fit using an app, nearly invisible in most ear canals, audiology-grade sound
Pros

Nearly invisible

High quality sound for a lower price

Self-fit at home

Cons

Not quite as small as OTC competitors like Eargo

Not rechargeable

Does not allow Bluetooth streaming

Purchase With Benefits on Soundly ๐Ÿ‘‰
Get Started
No items found.

Pros and cons of OTC hearing aids:

Pros ๐Ÿ‘

  • OTC hearing aids are less expensive than their prescription counterparts. The market leader, Lexie B2 Powered By Bose, is $999 for a pair of rechargeable devices.
  • OTC hearing aids are more accessible and don't require access to a local doctor. You can buy a pair of OTC hearing aids online or in retail and have them in hand within a day or two.
  • OTC hearing aids give you more control over your program. Some people like the feeling of control that OTC hearing aids provide. Prescription devices often require ongoing consultation with your hearing professional for troubleshooting and adjustments.

Cons ๐Ÿ‘Ž

  • OTC hearing aids are not (yet) as advanced as their prescription counterparts. Most OTC hearing aids lack certain features like Bluetooth streaming or rechargeable batteries. This lag will likely change with time.
  • OTC hearing aids put you in control but also lack hands-on support. Working with a doctor gives you a point of contact when things aren't going well. OTC hearing brands offer customer service, and some (like Eargo) have on-staff audiologists, but the bulk of the process is designed for self-service.
  • OTC hearing aids do not come with custom earmolds, and many people enjoy or need a custom-molded device or a custom-molded earpiece. OTC hearing aids all use rubber domes in a variety of preset sizes. These domes work well for most people.

What OTC means for the future of hearing aids.

Itโ€™s hard to predict the future, but, inevitably, the coming OTC regulation will significantly impact the future of hearing health. The 2017 bill intended to increase competition to drive down prices, make the buying process more transparent, and give people access who canโ€™t easily get to an audiology office.

These are some of the most common assumptions among hearing health experts:

  • Technology will not replace the need for audiologists; instead, it will likely change their role. OTC changes will probably focus audiology work on those with severe hearing loss and complex needs. Audiologists are trained in a much broader set of areas including cochlear implants, vestibular, aural rehab and more.
  • Prescription and OTC Technology will blur as more companies launch quality, full-featured devices. I expect that OTC and prescription channels will offer similarly premium devices in the future - the main difference will be care method.
  • Things will be confusing for a while as new brands emerge and traditional brands shuffle to sell directly to consumers. Online scams will do what they can to take advantage, and clear, well-researched information will be more critical than ever.
  • All of this will take time. OTC guidelines first became a discussion in 2016, and progress has been made, but itโ€™s slow. Expect the impact of OTC hearing aids to play out over decades, not just a few years. Recent reporting from ASHA revealed that only 2% of hearing aid wearers purchased OTC devices in 2023. Our data on this site shows that at least 16% of shoppers actively considered devices.

Frequently asked questions

What's the history of OTC hearing aids?
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โ€

December 2016 - FDA Takes The First Step

Thirty-nine years after the FDAโ€™s first ruling on hearing aids, the agency came back with a blockbuster announcement in December 2016 that it would no longer enforce the requirement that individuals 18 and up receive a medical evaluation or sign a waiver before purchasing most hearing aids.

In that same announcement, the FDA shared their โ€œcommitment to consider creating a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that could deliver new, innovative and lower-cost products to millions of consumers.โ€

โ€

March 2017 - Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Grassley Introduce a Bill

In May 2017, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley signaled a bipartisan commitment when they introduced the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017. In May, the two lawmakers co-authored a piece that was published on the Jama Network. They urged the FDA to โ€œ go further than simply doing away with the medical evaluation requirement and create a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.โ€

โ€

July and August 2017 - Congress Says Yes

On July 12th, 2017, the bill earned bipartisan support in the U.S. House. Three weeks later, on August 3rd, the Senate passed the bill to the presidentโ€™s desk.

โ€

August 18th - President Donald Trump Signs The Bill

On August 18th, 2017, President Trump signed the bill into law. The law mandated that the FDA create and regulate a new category of OTC hearing aids. The bill directed the FDA to focus on high standards for safety, consumer labeling, and manufacturing.

โ€

2017 through 2021 - The Waiting Game

After a lot of initial debate and speculation, everything went quiet. The FDA went to work on its regulations, and hearing aid wearers had no choice but to wait.

The three-year deadline loomed at the beginning of 2020, and it looked like we would finally get answers. Then came the pandemic. The FDA had bigger things to worry about, and OTC hearing aids got stuck on the back burner.

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July 2021 - President Joe Biden Signs An Executive order

After nearly four years of crickets, President Biden lit a fire under the issue On July 9th with an executive order that directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services โ€œto consider issuing proposed rules within 120 days for allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.โ€

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October 2021 - At Long Last, A Proposal

On October 19th, the FDA released the long-awaited proposal for a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids. The 114-page document was long and technical (as it should be). As a part of the brand new guidelines, the FDA established a 90-day comment period where consumers, companies, and doctors could submit their feedback on the bill.

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January 2022 - Comment Period Closes

In late January, the comment period closed, with more than 1,000 comments submitted from audiologists, manufacturers, and even hearing aid wearers. As you might expect, the disruptive regulation has been contentious, with many advocates and detractors on both sides.

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August 16, 2022 - Final Guidelines Are Published

After reviewing more than 1,000 comments from manufacturers and consumers, new guidelines finally published. The final FDA ruling is over 130 pages long and includes in-depth responses to comments on topics like labeling, applicable technology, the OTC application process, and more. The final ruling made several changes in response to industry comments but largely remained intact.

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October 17, 2022 - OTC Officially Go OTC

Starting on October 17th consumers began to see officially labeled OTC hearing aids on shelves at retailers like Walgreens, Best Buy and online. OTC hearing aids can now be purchased without a doctors appointment and will allow fitting at home.

Someone buy Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Grassley a drink. ๐Ÿบ

Where can I purchase OTC hearing aids?
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For the first time in almost 40 years consumers can now purchase hearing aids at a local Walgreens, CVS or Walmart.

Most brands like Sony, Bose, Eargo and Jabra also sell their products directly online.

Are OTC hearing aids good?
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Leading OTC hearing aids are high-quality and deliver significant benefit to their wearers. Brands like Bose and Eargo go toe-to-toe with prescription products while products like Jabra Enhance Plus fill a niche in the market.

The biggest difference between OTC and prescription devices is in the level of service they include. If you need a lot of hands on support, OTC might not be the best fit for you.

Who is a candidate for OTC hearing aids?
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Over-the-counter hearing aids are for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. If you arenโ€™t sure what level of hearing loss you have, you can take a free online hearing test to establish your level of hearing loss.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are not for people with severe hearing loss. The FDA outlined some specific dB output limits meant to keep more severe hearing loss cases under the oversight of a hearing professional.

If you regularly miss loud noises or you struggle to hear conversations at full volume without background noise, it is recommended that you see an audiologist.

Are there any invisible OTC hearing aids?
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Yes. Eargo and Sony are the leading invisible OTC hearing aid makers.

What's the difference between OTC hearing aids and PSAPs?
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This is where things get tricky. If you search โ€œhearing aidsโ€ on Amazon youโ€™ll  find a wide array of products that have not registered with the FDA. Most of these devices are personal sound amplifiers (PSAPS).

In general, PSAPs offer less customization to match your hearing loss and have not gone through the FDA clearance process. Many PSAP products are cheaply made in China and may not even safe for use.

Our suggestion is to use lists like this one to discover legitimate brands. You can then use that information to search in a more targeted way and avoid PSAPs.

Whatโ€™s the best OTC hearing aid with Bluetooth streaming?
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There are several good options for iPhone users - Lexie and Sony CRE-E10 are among our favorites. Lucid Engage and Sennheiser are the only devices that stream Bluetooth to Android phones.

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