Leading retailers begin selling hearing aids OTC

Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Sam's Club are among the retailers now offering consumers the ability to purchase hearing aids over the counter.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy
walmart hearing aids

Following Congress passing the OTC Hearing Aid Act, and subsequent rules issued less than two months ago by the Food and Drug Administration, which allows consumers to purchase hearing aids directly at retail stores and online without a prescription, several retailers including CVS, Walmart and Sam’s Club are offering hearing aids over the counter. Walgreens recently announced that Lexie Lumen hearing aids will be available OTC at all of its stores nationwide for adults aged 18 years old and older with mild-to-moderate hearing loss starting Oct. 17. 

"Starting today, Walmart will offer over the counter hearing aids to help our customers live better and healthier lives at affordable prices they can count on," David Reitnauer, vice president of health and wellness of optical and hearing, said in a post on Walmart’s website.

Hearing aids will be available to customers who are aged 18 years old and older with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss without a medical exam or fitting adjustment needed by an audiologist.

[Read more: Walgreens to sell Lexie Lumen hearing aids OTC]

lucid hearing hearing aid

“Walmart is excited to offer customers a broad assortment of high-quality hearing aids at a more affordable price, helping to deliver on their goal to be the primary shopping destination for shoppers.” Reitnauer said.

Walmart's assortment of OTC hearing aids ranges in price from $199 to $999 per pair. Options will include top brands like Lexie powered by Bose and HearX that will offer cutting-edge technology like Bluetooth and self-tuning app capabilities and discreet, sleek designs at everyday low prices, Reitnauer said.

“Nearly 30 million American adults could benefit from using hearing aids, making them an essential part of many Americans’ healthcare priorities. People with hearing loss are more likely to suffer from social isolation and depression, are three times more likely to be at risk of dementia and have an increased risk of falling and hospitalization,” Reitnauer said.   

“A person’s ‘whole health’ is a combination of many factors, including hearing, that influence physical and mental well-being,” said John Wigneswaran, chief medical officer at Walmart. “Offering easy access to OTC hearing aids — something that seems quite small — is a solution that can improve our customer’s health outcomes and their ability to live better and healthier.”

[Read more: Eye and ear care still driven by pandemic-related trends]

To help make it easy for customers to understand their OTC hearing aid options and Walmart’s offerings, Walmart said that it is providing additional resources online to help customers find the right device for them.

“Both my dad and I deal with hearing loss, and so I understand first-hand how it impacts a person’s ability to connect to their surroundings,” said Tammy Randall, a Vision Center associate in Oxford, Ala. for the past 10 years. “When I was able to help find a solution for my dad, nothing touched me more than when I said, ‘Dad,’ and he could hear it clearly for the first time. Knowing the real difference this access has for people makes me so excited to have the opportunity to provide other people the chance to find an affordable product that works best for them.”

Additionally, Walmart noted customers also can easily access a full range of healthcare services to address their whole health and proactively manage their health through preventative care at Walmart Health Centers. These state-of-the-art Walmart Health Centers offer hearing tests and other healthcare services for customers with a team of qualified medical professionals that can help them assess potential hearing loss, rule out underlying medical conditions and determine if a hearing aid is right for them.

A broad assortment of OTC hearing aids are now available on Walmart.com and Walmart Vision Centers in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, as well as 474 Sam's Club Hearing Aid Center locations. OTC hearing aids will soon be available at additional Walmart Vision Centers nationwide. To help customers purchase the products that are right for them in a way that works for them, eligible customers can use Affirm’s pay-over-time options without any late or hidden fees, the retailer said.

[Read more: Eyes — and ears — on the horizon: Trends driving eye and ear care]

Lucid Hearing, a Fort Worth-based provider of advanced hearing technology and audio solutions, is offering its OTC hearing aids to consumers in more than 450 Sam's Club locations nationwide. 

"We're ready and excited to offer consumers affordable and accessible hearing aids that comply with all FDA regulations and provide those with hearing impairments a broad range of designs and product features," said Jason Kidd,  Lucid Hearing president and chief operating officer. "Our technology for these devices has been in the making for years and is based on research done in conjunction with the University of Texas at Dallas, a top audiology research university."

Lucid Hearing offers free hearing tests for people aged 19 years old and older at more than 500 hearing centers across the nation, most located inside Sam's Club locations. Lucid's OTC hearing aids will generally range in price from $199.99 to $1,699.99 and can be purchased through Sam's Club both in-club and online, plus other retail outlets and through Amazon and lucidhearing.com. Sam's Club pricing for Lucid's OTC hearing aids will range from $199 to $799.

Bennett Griffin, executive vice president of research and development noted that Lucid Hearing's OTC hearing aids will offer numerous features, including wireless streaming and varied styles, including discreet in-ear offerings. He added that Lucid's significant investment in scientific and innovative pre-set programs developed as a result of the UTD audiology research offers a unique advantage in that they will cover the vast majority of consumers' perceived mild to moderate hearing loss needs.

"Lucid Hearing has deep roots and decades of experience with hearing research and technology," Griffin said. "Now we're able to offer our expertise with OTC devices to millions of consumers who may not otherwise get help for their hearing loss, allowing them to reconnect with the sounds and experiences that matter most."

CVS is offering hearing aids online.

The retailer is carrying Go Hearing + Go Lite and Go Hearing + Go Prime hearing aids. The Go Lite works great for small groups or television viewing, while the Go Prime offers additional features that aid hearing in a variety of environments, the retailer said. 

Both versions feature a nearly invisible design, adjustable volume and three dome sizes. Each version comes with a portable charging case that charges in two to three hours and carries up to six charges for the hearing aids. Each aid gets up to 30 hours of use from two to three hours of charging time in the case. The Go Prime has all these features plus a 100% digital processor, six channels and 12 bands, three preset programs, noise reduction, feedback cancellation and a memory recall function, CVS Health said.

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