Hearing Aid Access: the Ethical and Legal Requirements

Have you ever thought about your quality of life? If you’re a fully-abled person, the answer to that question is likely “No.” People who are impaired, however, are forced to deal with this question every day. Thankfully, technology has made it easier to live with a disability, such as hearing loss. 

Hearing aids, for example, offer consumers an improved quality of life—but like with anything else we buy, purchasing an aid of some sort opens the possibility for exploitation. In many cases, people who need hearing aids are willing to spend a lot of money on them. While laws do exist to help prevent people from such exploitation from occurring, there’s always a chance someone will be taken advantage of. Here are some legal and ethical guidelines to keep in mind while searching for affordable hearing aids.

There are a few guidelines in place to help protect your health. For example, the United States Food and Drug Administration has a number of criteria that are used to determine if a patient should be referred to a physician before they are fitted with a hearing aid. Indicators like recent dizziness, hearing loss, or pain in your ear may be reason enough to refer you to a licensed physician before you are fitted with a hearing aid. Though the audiologist may refer you to a physician, you’re not required to see one. People aged 18 or older “may waive the requirement for a medical evaluation by signing a waiver statement,” so you’re not required to spend the extra money on a doctor’s visit if you don’t need to. Laws, while occasionally cumbersome and oblique, are more likely to work in your favor if you pay attention to them.

These laws have ethical implications, however, and ethics are indeed often considered to ”drive legislation.” If someone unequally applies hearing tests, for example, they could be considered to have acted unethically even if that person meant well. If someone is a Medicare provider, they are required to charge money for their services so it is common practice to avoid free hearing tests. Even though someone might want to provide their services free of charge, it would be considered unethical as it would be unfair to the people who would pay for that person’s services. As a general rule, if you know your physician took advantage of poorly-made laws to their advantage or deliberately misrepresented some course of action that you now feel impacted your life in a major way, you would be able to say that they did not act ethically.

In any event, if you feel you have been treated unlawfully or unethically you may still be able to seek justice. Before filing a complaint with the appropriate state medical licensing board, you should make sure you have all of the information and paperwork required to make your case against the physician in question. Keeping all of your information straight becomes more important the more serious the violation is, and at some point, it may be advisable to consult a healthcare lawyer to help you decide what course of action you should take next. 

When discussing the matter of healthcare law and ethics, it can be difficult for the common citizen to keep up with all of the relevant details unless they are attentive. Many laws surrounding healthcare exist to help protect you against malpractice or unethical behavior. While ethical behavior is not strictly illegal, it can still carry consequences. Even legal retaliation would not be out of the question, should you have been a victim of a significant enough wrongdoing. Even so, staying educated in all matters of healthcare could help you avoid such situations entirely; you should never be afraid to read the fine print and do your own research.