Healthcare Cost Can be Over 40% Higher if You Have Untreated Hearing Loss

Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the aim of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
  • Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss

The study showed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.

That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a decade. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Lower quality of life
  • Falls
  • Dementia
  • Depression

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia

Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. In the future, those figures are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.