Untreated Hearing Loss Can Mean Higher Total Healthcare Costs

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Healthcare costs

Untreated hearing loss is detrimental in many ways. It can cause you to sidestep social situations and withdraw from society. It reduces your alertness while increasing the risks to your safety. Untreated hearing loss impairs memory, makes you irritable, and often leads to anxiety and depression. Poor hearing ultimately damages your psychological and overall physical health. Now it seems that your health is not the only thing to feel the impact of untreated hearing loss. According to a new study, mature adults with untreated hearing loss incur higher total healthcare costs than those who do not have hearing loss.

Untreated Hearing Loss Is Expensive

The total healthcare costs for an older adult with untreated hearing loss are, on average, 46 percent higher than those adults who do not have a hearing loss. Over a decade, this can total $22,434 per person. This sum includes $20,403 incurred by the health plan and $2,030 by the individual in out-of-pocket costs. The research team stresses that further study is needed to understand the exact reasons behind the higher medical expenses, as well as how early use of hearing aids and other treatments might impact these costs over time. Although untreated hearing loss is expensive, treatment may keep these costs down.

Mining Datasets

The research team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine gathered information from large health care datasets, which included administrative claims from 1999 to 2016. These people are enrollees in private U.S. health plans and Medicare Advantage plans. The researches, utilizing diagnostic codes, were able to identify more than 77,000 patients with age-related hearing loss. This number excludes those people who indicate the use of a hearing aid or if hearing loss is secondary to a medical condition.

The participants received a matching with other patients in the claims database on more than 25 factors. These factors include demographic characteristics, baseline health conditions, and measures of healthcare utilization. Measurements of healthcare costs and utilization outcomes took place at two, five, and ten-year follow-up points.

Results

Patients with untreated hearing loss were experiencing about 50 percent more hospital stays with a 44 percent higher risk for readmission at the 10-year mark. They are also 17 percent more prone to have an emergency department visit as well as about 52 more outpatient visits when compared to those without hearing loss. The results of the study do not indicate precisely why untreated hearing loss increases health care utilization, but the researchers believe it might be due to hearing loss’ relationship with other serious health problems.

People with hearing loss, as well as insurers, and the hearing industry must pay attention to the consequences of doing nothing about hearing loss. The cost of treatment is far less than the consequences of not treating hearing loss. If you are experiencing problems with your ability to hear, please do not put it off. Please arrange a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional today. Your physical well-being and your wallet will thank you for it!

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