How can untreated hearing loss impact health care expenses?
Nearly 38 million individuals in the United States have untreated hearing loss. A recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery reported that patients with untreated hearing loss paid 46 percent higher health care costs over a 10-year period, compared to patients without hearing loss.
The study analyzed health care records from 1999 to 2016. Patients with potential age-related hearing loss were selected, while those with identified hearing loss and hearing aid use or with hearing loss due to a medical condition were excluded. The researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School for Public Health and collaborators age-matched patients with other patients on more than 25 factors. Healthcare costs and outcomes were reviewed at 2-, 5-, and 10-years.
Those with untreated hearing loss showed up to a 46 percent higher total health care cost over a 10-year period than their peers without hearing loss. Additionally, these patients were more likely to experience more inpatient stays and were at greater risk for 30-day hospital readmission at 10 years.
This study proves there needs to be more attention given to the treatment of hearing loss. Health systems and insurers need to find ways to better serve these patients and provide affordable access to quality hearing health care.