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Buying and Selling Used Hearing Aids

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Updated April 28, 2014

Can you legally sell a used hearing aid? Or conversely, can you buy a used hearing aid when you can not afford a new one? These questions are asked frequently by About.com users just like you.

Selling Used Hearing Aids

In short, you can sell a used hearing aid, but it's not as simple as you may think.

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/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 the 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 health care 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, as stated above, used/refurbished hearing aids are sold legally, and you can likely get your hands on one without a doctor's visit first. 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.

Real Life Experiences With Used Hearing Aids

When the question of selling used aids was posed in a comment on "Legal for Individual to Sell Used Hearing Aids?," an About.com Deafness blog post, readers had comments and a few useful responses.

"I needed new hearing aids and could not afford them, and my audiologist was able to take the impressions from my ears [and put] 'insides' from [used] hearing aids into my molds. There was still a cost for me...much less than it would have been if I’d gotten them 'brand new.' Since the hearing aids are digital, my audiologist was able to program them to fit my specific hearing needs."
- Michelle

"I am an audiologist and a lifetime hearing aid user myself...It’s important to have a reliable audiologist you trust...Many ear, nose, and throat clinics dispense hearing aids, usually at a cheaper cost because they don’t need as much mark-up from hearing aids...Hearing aids are labeled by the FDA as a medical device."
- Jason

Discuss Used Hearing Aids

The About.com: Deafness Forum includes questions from people related to the sale of used hearing aids. Join the discussion.

Sources:

Ebay Guide - Used Hearing Aids

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health

Illinois - Hearing Instrument Consumer Protection Act

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  7. Used Hearing Aids: Can You Buy or Sell Them?

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