With everything more expensive, Americans don’t have as much money to spend on hearing aids—and this begs the question: Do you really need to spend the average price of $4,600 a pair for custom hearing aids from a hearing clinic?
The short answer is: No, with the advent of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, most patients don’t need hearing aids from a clinic anymore. Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are a new class of hearing aid recognized by the FDA. Not only are these hearing aids thousands of dollars less expensive, but they’re also clinically proven to treat mild to moderate hearing loss just as well as hearing aids from a clinic.
This article looks at the latest science on OTC hearing aids. We’ll also explore several reasons why more and more Americans are choosing to forgo custom hearing aids from a clinic and instead save thousands of dollars with OTC aids.
Hearing Clinics Are No Longer Necessary (For Most)
The truth is that most hearing care patients do not want, need, or have the budget to spend thousands of dollars on custom hearing aids from a hearing clinic, especially in today’s tighter and tighter economic times. In other words, patients don’t need “a hearing aid Lamborghini”—they need a quality, reliable “mid-range sedan hearing aid” that allows them to hear their loved ones clearly again.
In these cases, an OTC hearing aid from MDHearing fits the bill. In fact, MDHearing aids can assist 94% of Americans with hearing loss. Best of all, the MDHearing team provides exceptional telehealth hearing care—available by phone, email, video chat, or web chat.
Please keep in mind that, in some cases, hearing care patients—especially those with severe hearing loss or another specialized condition—may need more in-depth treatment or a specialized device that remote hearing care can’t provide. However, for the vast majority of patients with hearing loss, MDHearing can help.
Side-by-Side Comparison of OTC Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Clinic Aids
Since OTC hearing aid providers are relatively new on the market, consumers don’t always understand how the approach is different from the hearing aids you purchase at a traditional clinic. Let’s see how the two options compare:
Clinic Hearing Aids
OTC Hearing Aids
Business Model & Markups
Traditional hearing aid manufacturers mark up the price of their hearing aids by thousands before selling to a clinic. The clinic then passes that markup on to you—and adds their own thousands in markups. That's why it costs an average of $4,600 a pair just to have the opportunity to buy hearing aids in a clinic, regardless of quality.
OTC hearing aid companies create their hearing aids with the specific goal of making effective, medical-grade hearing aids affordable. By selling and delivering directly to consumers, OTC hearing aids eliminate the manufacturer and hearing clinic markups—passing on thousands of dollars in savings and appealing to practical and cost-conscious customers.
Market Dominance & Price Inflation
For decades, a handful of hearing aid manufacturers dominated the industry, and high-priced hearing clinics were the only option for consumers to purchase hearing aids. By cornering the market, traditional hearing aid manufacturers sold hearing aids at artificially exorbitant prices, and consumers were forced to pay it if they wanted to hear.
New FDA regulations now allow OTC hearing aid firms to compete against legacy hearing aid makers. Now consumers have more affordable options for their hearing care. They can choose between high-priced hearing clinic aids and high-quality, affordable OTC aids.
Have you ever noticed the constant barrage of new “premium” hearing aid technology at hearing clinics? As these new “premium” models replace the previous year’s “premium” models, the price of hearing aids creeps up more and more every year. Traditional manufacturers rely on overhyped, flashy tech features to keep prices high and to convince customers that they need to keep upgrading, but the quality of care and experience doesn’t change that much.
OTC hearing aids focus on the technology and features you need. Most people don't need all the premium bells and whistles. MDHearing models are programmed to focus on the best background noise reduction for clear speech and to meet the needs of 94% of people with hearing loss. We only add new hearing aid technology to improve the quality of care—not to inflate the price of our aids.
In-Person vs. Telehealth Care
Although you receive in-person attention at a hearing clinic, you have to go in for repeated visits. You could also be subjected to high-pressure sales tactics to convince you to pay an arm and a leg for the latest model of hearing aid. If you ask about cheaper alternatives, they may tell you that OTC hearing aids are low quality, don’t have customized features, and can't provide the support you need. This is absolutely not true.
OTC hearing aids don’t require you to visit a hearing clinic or make in-person appointments with an audiologist (costs that are often built into the price of hearing aids at a clinic). Instead, MDHearing has a team of licensed audiologists and hearing professionals that offer remote telehealth. This means that OTC hearing aids save you the cost and hassle of office visits.
In this day and age, you no longer need to visit a hearing clinic in order to take a hearing test or customize your hearing aids. For patients who want a more personalized hearing solution, the MDHearing VOLT MAX includes an app to check your hearing and personalize hearing aids for your specific needs. For more affordable options, you can take advantage of pre-programmed models that fit the vast majority of hearing loss profiles.
What Does the Science Say About OTC Hearing Aids?
According to a clinical study from Central Michigan University (CMU), the average person with hearing loss can use OTC hearing aids to get the same or better quality of treatment as professionally-fit devices.
In fact, the CMU study took a close look at the performance of MDHearing’s self-adjusting hearing aids, finding that patients with mild to moderate hearing loss were just as satisfied with these hearing aids as they were with professionally adjusted ones from a clinic.
How Do OTC Hearing Aids Achieve Clinic Level Care?
More than 750,000 satisfied MDHearing customers have already skipped the hearing clinic and ordered MDHearing OTC aids. Most choose MDHearing initially because of the extremely affordable price point. However, it’s MDHearing’s world-class, remote team of licensed hearing specialists and audiologists that inspire them to become repeat customers.
OTC hearing aids also bring the advantage of never having to set foot inside a hearing clinic. This is particularly helpful for rural or homebound elderly patients.
Let's take a look at how the MDHearing remote hearing care process works:
Many of our customers begin by taking our free online hearing test.
Then they schedule a free telephone appointment with one of our licensed hearing professionals who will review the test results.
During the appointment, our hearing pro will recommend a suitable hearing aid, or give the advice to seek further medical tests if necessary.
Next, the patient purchases one of MDHearing’s affordable hearing aids and we will ship it to their home.
For those who want some help, our hearing aid specialists are available to walk you through the setup process over the phone or video chat.
Finally, our most advanced, smart hearing aid—the MDHearing VOLT MAX—comes with an automatic hearing check that evaluates your hearing and adjusts the hearing aid automatically. If you purchase this hearing aid and have a professional audiogram, you can also send the audiogram to us and we will remotely tune your hearing aids according to the audiogram. Our hearing aid specialists use remote tuning technology to adjust your hearing aids over the internet using the same audiological tools that hearing clinics use.
Paying the High Price of Clinic Aids Doesn’t Mean You Will Be Satisfied
Some hearing clinics engage in high-pressure sales tactics—making it difficult to leave without spending thousands of dollars on the latest model of hearing aid. Even worse, you might not even be happy with the expensive, custom hearing aids you receive!
To give you an example, here’s an unsatisfied Signia user who spent $4,000 on a set of name-brand hearing aids:
After just 3 weeks my new Signia hearing aids no longer stream to either ear without crackling noise. In addition, the Signia app on my iPhone is junk. It rarely connects and then drops out in a short period. Waste of $4,000. Returning them tomorrow for a refund.” –Jerry M., Jan. 5, 2020, Facebook
By contrast, our experience has shown that many patients are extremely happy with the most affordable hearing aids on the market. For example, here’s what an MDHearing customer says about her hearing aids after spending just a few hundred dollars:
After my very expensive aids weakened, I researched lower cost, high quality aids. One of my former PCP's mentioned that he liked his MDHearing aids. I am into my third week of the trial and have found I’m hearing better than ever. Simple to use, rechargeable, and there’s help available online. So far, so very good.” –Charles W., Nov. 13, 2023, MDHearing
Because there’s no way to know how you’ll feel with a hearing aid until you try it, we recommend that patients try something affordable like MDHearing to see how they feel. We also recommend that our patients refuse to buy any hearing aid without a 100% money-back trial period—especially when they cost thousands of dollars per ear!
At MDHearing, all of our hearing aids come with a 45-day satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like your aids, send them back to us and we’ll refund your money or help you with an exchange! Read our return policy here.
The Advantages of OTC Hearing Aids from MDHearing
At the end of the day, we hope we’ve made a compelling case for at least giving OTC hearing aids from MDHearing a try before you spend thousands of dollars at a hearing clinic. Let's look at the most important benefits of buying online from MDHearing:
Strong reputation: MDHearing was founded more than a decade ago by a Chicago ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor who was fed up with the high price of hearing aids. Since then, MDHearing has helped more than 750,000 people with hearing loss improve the quality of their life.
Great customer support: Our friendly team of U.S.-based audiologists and licensed hearing specialists are here to walk you through every step of the process and answer any questions you may have. You can speak with the customer support team over the phone, email, web chat, or even video chat.
Free, at-home hearing test: Test your hearing from the comfort of your home with MDHearing's free hearing test—online, over the phone, or through the MDHearing app.
Fits 94% of hearing loss patients: Designed by doctors and tested by audiologists, MDHearing products can assist mild to moderate hearing loss (94 percent of hearing loss cases) right out of the box.
Customized for your specific hearing loss: The MDHearing VOLT MAX has advanced fine-tuning and customization features. The companion mobile app will check your hearing and automatically customize the amplification settings to fit your specific hearing loss needs.
100% money-back guarantee: MDHearing offers a 45-day risk-free trial for customers to make sure their new device is the right fit. With a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee, you have nothing to lose by giving MDHearing a try!
MDHearing: Quality, Affordable, FDA-Registered OTC Hearing Aids
If you’re on a fixed income, have a limited budget, or you simply don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a pair of hearing aids, we think you’re going to love the at-home hearing healthcare experience that MDHearing provides. Plus, with our 100% money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Find out if MDHearing will fit your hearing loss with our quick and easy online hearing test.
TAKE ONLINE HEARING TEST