LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – It used to take days to weeks to get a hearing aid, but now you can visit a local pharmacy to be tested, fitted and on your way in the same day.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that they have hearing issues until they go in, and somebody says they can’t hear what you’re saying, ” said Shawn Sams, owner of Louis Morgan Drugs #4.
Sams is excited to be bringing hearing aids to shelves.
“This will allow our patients to be able to come in, we can help them get fitted. Often they can walk out of the store with a new set hearing aids,” said Sams.
New hearing aids which will hopefully help his patients in Longview.
“Price point and availability have been two key issues that we have seen with our patients with hearing aids: They have been very expensive and it’s sometimes difficult to get into a provider,” said Sams.
A hearing aid costs between $1,000 and $4,000.
“The average patient waits seven years before treating their hearing loss. So sometimes the price point is like a shocker, you think you just have a little bit of hearing loss, and you’re like, ‘Oh hearing aids are kind of expensive, I’m not sure if I’m that committed to it,'” said Dr. Brigid Whitford, Director of Hearing Services.
A new rule by the FDA went into effect this month, not requiring a prescription for hearing aids. This should reduce costs drastically, and get many patients relief earlier.
“So 80% of people that would benefit from hearing aids go without hearing aids, and that’s a statistic that remains today.” said Dr. Sreek Cheruku, ENT Surgeon.
Louis Morgan Drugs #4 is expecting to have hearing aids next week starting at $600. Sams hopes the reduced cost and availability will help, without breaking the bank.
“Once they get that hearing aid, it makes a huge difference in their life,” said Sams.
At this time Louis Morgan Drugs #4 says over-the-counter hearing aids won’t be covered by insurance. Big-box stores like Walgreens, Walmart, and Best Buy have also announced to make them available online and in many of their stores.