Three researchers with the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, which is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, recommend two policy changes so Medicare beneficiaries can benefit from over-the-counter hearing devices as they come to market.
The OTC hearing devices are expected to be more affordable options for the approximately 38 million Americans have hearing loss, a condition for which prevalence increases with age. Two-thirds of adults older than 70 years have a mild or greater hearing loss
Writing in JAMA, Drs. Frank Lin, the Center’s director, Nick Reed, core faculty and Amber Wilink, also core faculty, emphasize the importance of clinical services, specifically, allowing reimbursement for audiologists under Medicare Part B and redefining hearing aid and hearing services as medically necessary, which would render comprehensive hearing care eligible for coverage by Medicare.
“With these changes,” they write, “the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services could safely support transitioning the state of hearing care in the United States from being high cost and low access to low cost and high access, thereby potentially leading to downstream savings and improved health outcomes among older adults.”