Individuals with hearing loss in Chelmsford and Nashua pay a high price for their condition even if they aren’t treating it, according to a study conducted by a notable group of researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Disparities in Out-of-Pocket Costs
According to results of a large-scale study released in November, those with untreated hearing loss pay a high price. Literally. Researchers, led by Dr. Nicholas Reed, Au.D., tracked 77,000 patients who were suspected of having untreated hearing loss between 1999 and 2016. All were enrolled in either private health plans or Medicaid Advantage Plans. Their health care costs were examined after two-year, five-year and ten-year intervals, and the results were eye-opening.
Individuals with untreated hearing loss, the study found, can expect to pay an average of $22,434 more per person every 10 years. And those differences don’t take long to appear; at the two-year mark, health care costs are 26 percent higher for people with untreated hearing loss. By year ten, the disparity is even higher: a staggering 46 percent. While insurance costs help put a dent in overall costs, these patients are still on the hook for about $2,030 more in out-of-pocket costs.
Those costs aren’t strictly financial, either. Untreated hearing loss results in 50 percent more hospital stays, 44 percent more hospital readmissions within 30 days of discharge, 17 percent more emergency room visits and 52 more outpatient visits than patients with normal hearing.
The Correlation Between Untreated Hearing Loss and Higher Expenses
Dr. Reed and his colleagues aren’t 100 percent certain why there is such a cost disparity between those with untreated hearing loss and folks with normal hearing, but there are plenty of theories. For starters, there is the well-established link between hearing loss and other health problems such as depression, dementia and falls. Another possible contributing factor is the communication difficulties faced by those with poor hearing. They may be unable to convey their symptoms to their doctor, meaning they are less likely to receive the treatment necessary – and that in turn drives up medical costs in the long run.
If you suspect hearing loss, don’t delay treatment; doing so will prove costly! Schedule an appointment with your Chelmsford or Nashua audiologist as soon as possible.