As an invisible condition, hearing loss may be easy to overlook, but many studies provide us with increasingly more reasons to reconsider. Hearing loss decreases your quality of life, reduces work productivity, and makes it difficult to communicate with your loved ones. Not only that, but a recent study found that those living with untreated hearing loss incurred far higher health care costs over time. If you think your hearing loss is no big deal, it might be costing you far more than you realize.
The High Cost of Hearing Loss
According to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, older adults with untreated hearing loss are incurring extremely high health care costs when compared to their hearing peers. They looked at data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse, accessing health care records from thousands of Americans across the country over a period of 10 years.
What they found was shocking. Those with hearing loss averaged 46% higher health care costs, totaling over $22,000 more in health care costs per person over a 10-year period! Patients who didn’t treat their hearing loss visited the hospital 50% more, and were nearly twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital for the same health concern. They were also more likely to visit the emergency room, and visited their doctors 52 more times than those who didn’t have hearing loss.
Even two years after a hearing loss diagnosis, health care costs were noticeably higher. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your hearing loss is no big deal, or that waiting a year or two won’t make a difference. Your bank account will suffer more than you realize, and waiting to treat your hearing loss will be costing you more than you might think.
Why Does Hearing Loss Cost More?
Wondering why those with hearing loss had such high health care costs? There are a few reasons for the expensive medical bills, and include increased risk of injury, and a communication barrier between you and your doctor.
Accident and Injury: Those with untreated hearing loss are far more likely to have accidents, or incur injury, since they won’t hear warning sirens, a car honking in your blind spot, or the boys across the street yelling as their ball flies towards your knees. Not only that, but those with hearing loss are more prone to trips, slips, or falls, since balance is also controlled by the inner ear, and hearing loss can affect your sense of equilibrium.
Communication Barrier: Another reason hearing loss is linked to high health care costs is communication. If you have hearing loss, you struggle to follow conversations at the best of times, but when you’re ill or injured, you’ll probably have a harder time understanding what’s been said, and won’t be able to communicate effectively. Not only that, but hospitals and doctor’s offices are often very challenging listening environments, with echoing hallways, beeping machines, and crowded waiting rooms.
When you’re unable to communicate with your doctor or clearly explain your symptoms, you won’t receive the best care. If you can’t hear or answer your doctor’s questions, you might not receive an accurate diagnosis or treatment program. And when you can’t follow what the doctor has said, understand your treatment options, or know when you’re expected to take your pills, it’s no wonder you experience worse health outcomes, or find yourself back in the hospital within a few days.
Living with Untreated Hearing Loss
The cost of living with untreated hearing loss doesn’t just affect your wallet. If you have untreated hearing loss, you’ll soon notice a decrease in your overall quality of life, and struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, and social isolation. You’ll also have a much higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
Treating Hearing Loss
Nearly 40 million Americans have hearing loss, and many are putting off treating their hearing loss. If you’re ready to do the right thing for your hearing health and for your bank account, visit us at Hearing Health for a hearing assessment, and to discuss your treatment options. We have a wide range of hearing devices to match any budget, and we’ll help you choose hearing aids with the programs and features that will compliment your lifestyle.