Retailers Like Best Buy Already Flocking To Join Drugstores, Others To Sell Hearing Aids This Fall
News the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is going to allow hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter is already bringing a flock of retailers – including new healthcare business entrants like Best Buy – into what promises to be a multi-billion-dollar business.
Already, retailers led by Walgreens, CVS Health, Walmart and Amazon have expanded into healthcare with hundreds of more healthcare items. CVS, Walgreens and Walmart have in-person doctors and nurse practitioners in their stores and Amazon is spending nearly $4 billion on One Medical, which will bring the online retailer deeper into in-person healthcare.
But the huge spending bill signed into law this week by President Biden to bolster the Affordable Care Act to expand health insurance coverage for more Americans and the FDA decision to allow the sale of hearing aids to adults without a prescription is a potentially huge market.
“This fall, Best Buy is introducing a new experience for hearing devices, making it more convenient than ever for the millions of Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss to get the products and support they need,” Best Buy said in a statement Wednesday morning. “The new experience will include an expanded collection of hearing devices, an in-store experience in more than 300 stores, and a new online hearing assessment tool.”
The cost of hearing aids, pegged at $5,000 by some estimates that include a consultation with doctors and audiologists, has discouraged a market of millions of Americans from buying these medical devices.
The FDA’s new rule will allow people with mild to moderate hearing loss to buy hearings both online and in retail stores as early as October. The agency estimated about 30 million Americans experience hearing loss but only about one-fifth get treatment that includes hearing aids.
Although Best Buy didn’t disclose a price in its announcement Wednesday, the cost of hearing aids for Americans is expected to fall dramatically with a huge influx of retailers that will be selling them. And the market includes new entrants like Best Buy that haven’t sold hearing aids before.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve offered hearing solutions; for years, we’ve had a collection of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), self-fitting hearing devices, TV amplifiers, hearing protection devices and other accessories,” Best Buy said. “This fall, the collection will also include for the first time ever, the new FDA-regulated category of over-the-counter hearing devices to help perceived mild or moderate hearing loss from some of the most trusted brands in the space. Products available in the experience will include Lexie Hearing, Nuheara, Jabra Enhance Plus, Lucid Hearing fio and ENGAGE, Eargo 6, and more.”