Buying and Selling Used Hearing Aids

Used hearing aids are legal, but a medical examination or waiver is required

Can you legally buy or sell a used hearing aid? With the high cost of many hearing aids, this can seem like an attractive option. Or, you may have hearing aids that are no longer needed and wonder if you can turn them into cash on eBay or Craigslist. In short, both buying and selling used hearing aids is legal, but it may not be as simple as you may think.

Selling Used Hearing Aids

Used or rebuilt (refurbished) hearing aids can be sold, but each aid must have packaging and a tag attached to the device itself that clearly declares the device as having been previously owned or used.

In addition, sales of used/rebuilt models are held to the same regulations as the sale of new aids. According to Title 21, Section 801.420: Hearing aid devices; professional and patient labeling of the Code of Federal Regulations, hearing aids can only be sold to those individuals who have first obtained a medical evaluation from a licensed physician. The FDA puts further requirements on this, stating that hearing aids can only be sold to people who have had a medical evaluation within the six months prior to the sale.

If an individual takes issue with obtaining a medical evaluation for religious or personal reasons, federal regulations state that she can obtain a hearing aid if she signs a waiver. Though this option is available, the regulation clearly states that going this route is not in the best health interest of the individual, and the practice is strongly discouraged.

Some states have specific rules governing the sale of used hearing aids by audiologists and hearing aid dispensers.

For example, both Illinois and Colorado have legislative language mirroring the Federal position regarding used hearing aids.

Buying Used Hearing Aids

The first step in buying any hearing aid is getting a medical evaluation. These are usually conducted by a doctor such as an otolaryngologist. The medical evaluation is done to make sure that all possible treatable medical causes for the hearing loss are identified before you are referred to an audiologist or other hearing healthcare professional for a hearing aid evaluation.

The doctor doing the medical evaluation will give you a statement that verifies that a medical evaluation has been done.

Even though a medical evaluation is recommended, used/refurbished hearing aids are sold legally, and you can likely get your hands on one without first visiting a doctor. Sellers on sites such as eBay and Craiglist have posted FDA warning statements on their "for sale" listings to inform potential buyers that it is in their best health interest to get a medical evaluation first and that, if the buyer does not get one, he or she must provide the seller with a signed, written waiver. Still, there are other sellers who do not post this responsible warning.

Disregarding the recommendation to get a medical evaluation prior to purchasing a hearing aid is something you do at your own risk. Furthermore, it's important to have a hearing health care professional not only evaluate your needs for an aid but help guide you as to what type of device is best for you.

If you do purchase a used hearing aid, it's important that earmolds be replaced and/or sterilized by a professional hearing aid center, as they can have bacteria from a previous owner. In addition, hearing aids must be properly programmed and fitted by a hearing aid professional.

Sources:

CFR—Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfCFR/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=801.420.

How to Buy Used Hearing Aids. Ebay. http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-to-Buy-Used-Hearing-Aids-/10000000178467858/g.html

Illinois - Hearing Instrument Consumer Protection Act. Illinois General Assembly. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1305&ChapterID=24.

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