Patients with hearing loss in Los Angeles already contend with many side effects related to their condition. It turns out the impact of their condition isn’t limited to physical, psychological and social factors; it can also affect their bank accounts, as well.
Hidden Costs of Hearing Loss
A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health followed 77,000 patients who were suspected of having untreated hearing loss, analyzing their health care costs over pre-determined intervals of two, five and ten years. All participants were enrolled in either private health plans or Medicaid Advantage between 1999-2016. Results were clear: people with untreated hearing loss in Los Angeles can expect to pay an incredible $22,434 more in medical costs over a typical ten-year period than individuals with normal hearing.
This discrepancy in health care costs is noticeable as soon as two years following diagnosis. At this point in the study, participants were on the hook for health care costs averaging 26 percent higher than those incurred by their normal-hearing peers. The disparity climbs even higher; by year ten, medical costs are 46 percent higher. While insurance coverage does reduce the overall financial burden, out-of-pocket costs for these patients still average about $2,030 higher.
The cost isn’t only measured in dollars and cents. People with hearing loss in Los Angeles will have twice as many hospital stays, 44 percent more hospital readmissions within the first 30 days of discharge, 17 percent more ER visits and 52 more outpatient visits than people who have normal hearing.
What is the Link Between Hearing Loss and Higher Costs?
Researchers aren’t completely sure of the link between hearing loss and higher medical costs, but several well-established theories help shed a little light on the connection. Hearing loss is associated with a variety of health problems running the gamut from loneliness and depression to diabetes, kidney disease, memory impairment and dementia. Treatment for these and other conditions resulting from hearing loss is costly. Another factor that likely contributes: those with poor hearing may have trouble communicating with their health care professional about the symptoms they are experiencing, meaning they may not receive the treatment needed.
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, early treatment is the best way to prevent health complications down the road – and is sure to save you money, too. Talk with your Los Angeles audiologist to learn about solutions.