ENT with tools ear exam

Patients With Untreated Hearing Loss Incur Higher Health Care Costs Over Time

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Hearing loss is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from hearing loss do not seek treatment, and this can lead to a host of additional health problems and financial difficulties. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between untreated hearing loss and higher healthcare costs, the importance of early treatment, and the potential financial benefits of treating hearing loss. We will also discuss the various treatment options available and end with a call to action encouraging readers to seek treatment for their hearing loss at our hearing practice.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Healthcare Costs

A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that older adults with untreated hearing loss incur substantially higher total health care costs compared to those who don’t have hearing loss, an average of 46 percent, totaling $22,434 per person over a decade. This is one of the largest studies to look at this issue, following many individuals for a full 10 years.

The project was done in collaboration with AARP, University of California San Francisco and OptumLabs, and found that patients with untreated hearing loss generated nearly 26 percent more in total health care costs within two years, a gap that widened to 46 percent by 10 years, and that the differences between the two groups were evident as early as two years after diagnosis.

There are several ways in which untreated hearing loss can contribute to these costs, including:

  • Increased risk of falls: People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to fall due to their inability to hear potential hazards in their environment.
  • Cognitive decline: Untreated hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of developing dementia.
  • Depression: People with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk of developing depression due to social isolation and the frustration of not being able to communicate effectively with others.

These are just a few examples of how untreated hearing loss can lead to higher healthcare costs. It’s important to note that these costs can add up over time, making it even more important to seek treatment as early as possible.

The Importance of Early Treatment

Treating hearing loss as early as possible can help prevent the escalation of healthcare costs. The earlier treatment is sought, the more likely it is that the individual will be able to maintain their current level of functioning and prevent further decline. There are several treatment options available for hearing loss, including:

  • Hearing aids: Hearing aids are small devices that amplify sounds, making it easier for people with hearing loss to hear. There are many different types of hearing aids available, and they can be customized to fit the individual’s needs.
  • Cochlear implants: Cochlear implants are electronic devices that can help people with severe to profound hearing loss hear. They work by converting sound waves into electrical signals that are then sent directly to the brain.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair or remove the cause of hearing loss.

Potential Financial Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Treating hearing loss can lead to significant cost savings over time. For example:

Reduced need for emergency room visits: People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to fall and suffer injuries, which can lead to increased emergency room visits. By treating hearing loss, the risk of falls can be reduced, resulting in fewer emergency room visits.

Decreased risk of falls: As mentioned earlier, people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to fall. By treating hearing loss, the risk of falls can be reduced, resulting in fewer injuries and a decrease in healthcare costs.

Increased productivity: People with untreated hearing loss may have trouble communicating effectively with others, which can lead to decreased productivity at work. By treating hearing loss, individuals can communicate more effectively, leading to increased productivity and a potential increase in income.

It’s important to note that the cost of treatment can vary depending on the individual’s needs and the type of treatment they receive. However, many insurance plans cover the cost of treatment, and in most cases, the cost savings from treating hearing loss will outweigh the cost of treatment.

This study highlights the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible to prevent the escalation of healthcare costs. If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, we encourage you to visit our hearing clinic for a comprehensive evaluation. Our team of experts will work with you to find the best treatment options available and help improve your quality of life. Don’t let untreated hearing loss lead to increased healthcare costs and decreased quality of life, schedule your appointment today.