Congress is working on a bill that would help millions of people that suffer from hearing loss

A bill to deregulate the sale of hearing aids is in the works in Congress

MOLINE, Illinois - "It needs to be more accessible because as we age, hearing with many people does become a problem," says Sharon Hines.  

Sharon Hines says the possibilities this bill creates will benefit a lot of people. 

Her mother was completely deaf in one ear and her parents struggled with the high costs of buying a hearing aid. 

"They would paid for it out of pocket, and they were retired farmers. Insurance paid for other things but it did not pay for the hearing aid and so it was somewhat of a burden," says Hines. 

The average cost of a hearing aid is $1,500 dollars, but high end products can cost as much as $5,000 dollars. 

"Many of our hearing aids today, when you pay for a hearing aid you're usually paying for the device itself, but beyond that we also tend to include the services that are provided," says Dr. Ann Perreau. 

Augustana college Associate Professor Dr. Ann Perreau has been an audiologist for 12 years.

She says you're not just buying the ear piece, the cost also includes hearing tests and check ups.

Besides making hearing aids available over the counter, this bill will allow people to buy them without seeing a professional.

Perreau's not a fan. 

She says people should see a doctor, since doctors go through many years of training to help their patients. 

"Things that we do as audiologists in fitting the device, is we verify that the fit is appropriate in the patients ear. This is not something that would be done in a consumer-driven environment," says Dr. Perreau.  

Hines says she likes that the bill will give the people affordable options when buying a hearing aid, but still thinks people should be evaluated by a professional. 

"I think we need to go to an audiologist to get an accurate reading on our hearing. I would feel more comfortable. I've had a couple of hearing tests and I don't think I'm competent in that area to self evaluate myself," says Hines.  

 

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