Hearing loss is costly to patients in Exton and across the country. Not only is there a physical, emotional, and social toll; impaired hearing can also affect another area where you might be vulnerable: your bank account.
The High Costs of Hearing Loss
A new study published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on November 8 reveals the high cost of untreated hearing loss. The report shows that older adults in Exton and throughout the U.S. who aren’t treating their hearing loss have higher health care expenses than those without hearing loss. These people end up paying $22,434 more over an average 10-year period. That’s an awful lot of Gingerbread Lattes (or the approximate cost of a brand-new Honda Civic EX Sedan if you aren’t a coffee lover).
This disparity in health care costs is already significant a mere two years after the initial diagnoses, when health care costs are already 26 percent higher. The gap widens to 46 percent after ten years. Health insurance plans pick up most of the cost, but the average patient is still responsible for $2,030 in out-of-pocket costs. That’s still a lot of Gingerbread Lattes (or Uber rides if we’re sticking with the transportation theme).
The study, led by Dr. Nicholas Reed, Au.D., a faculty member with the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at the Bloomberg School and an instructor of audiology in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, followed 77,000 patients with suspected untreated hearing loss who were enrolled in private health plans and Medicaid Advantage plans between 1999 and 2016. Their health care costs were examined over three benchmark periods: two, five, and ten years.
By the ten-year mark, these patients had recorded 50 percent more hospital stays, had a 44 percent higher risk of hospital readmission within 30 days of discharge, were 17 percent more likely to visit the Emergency Room, and experienced 52 more outpatient visits than people who do not have hearing loss.
What’s Driving the High Cost of Untreated Hearing Loss?
Researchers aren’t 100 percent certain about the reason for this large disparity in health care costs for those with untreated hearing loss, but they have a couple of theories. For starters, there is a positive and indisputable correlation between hearing loss and health problems such as depression, dementia, and falls. All of these result in increased doctor’s visits and hospital stays. Additionally, individuals with poor hearing are often unable to communicate effectively with their doctor. This might impede their ability to adequately discuss symptoms with their health care provider. Without proper treatment, medical problems worsen over time, leading to higher overall costs.
One thing is certain: untreated hearing loss is costly in more ways than one. If you or a loved one is showing signs of hearing loss, don’t delay treatment. Contact your Exton audiologist as soon as for a hearing evaluation.