Hearing loss (HL) becomes increasingly common with age and can lead to multiple negative outcomes, including isolation, falls, depression, altered social relationships, and altered cognitive functioning. HL also can aff ect patient-provider communication and lead to misunderstandings. Despite the negative eff ects that HL has on multiple domains, less than 20% to 25% of individuals who might benefi t from amplifi cation devices and/or hearing aids own them. Barriers to use include stigma, cost, and access. Nurses can play a critical role in promoting appropriate care for individuals with HL and providing access for those who need hearing aids. The current article (a) briefl y reviews how history and policies, especially Medicare and Medicaid, but also those defi ning the practice of audiology and dispensing of hearing aids, aff ect insurance coverage for hearing care; (b) reviews how a combination of forces brought the need for accessible and aff ordable hearing care to national attention and resulted in the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act; and (c) discusses the implications of the OTC Act for nurses and nursing practice.
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