The High Cost of Hearing Loss
The costs of untreated hearing loss to one’s financial, physical, and mental well-being are much more of a burden than the cost of seeking treatment.
Although approximately 38 million adults in the United States have some form of hearing loss, only 16% of those between the ages of 20-69 and 30% of those above the age of 70 have used hearing aids. Many may not seek treatment for their conditions for fear of the potentially high cost of some hearing aids, yet statistics show that the financial cost incurred from untreated hearing loss will be much higher over the course of an individual’s lifetime than that of investing in treatment. From higher medical bills to lost wages, research demonstrates that hearing loss can take an economic toll.
A study featured last year in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery found that the medical bills of adults ages 55-64 whose hearing loss went untreated were significantly higher than of those without hearing loss, with the former spending an average of $14,165, while the latter spent an average of $10,629. Moreover, it is estimated that, of people born in the year 2000, those with untreated hearing loss will spend or lose a combined total of $2.1 billion in their lifetimes as a result of their condition, and 63% of this figure will be due to indirect costs such as wages lost when one’s ability to work is limited by his or her disability.
Beyond this considerable economic impact, hearing loss may also increase mortality, as well as one’s risk of dementia, falls, depression, anxiety, and other psychosocial disorders. A wide variety of hearing aids and other treatment options are available, and prices vary considerably, so discussing these with a doctor can help a patient find the best fit for his or her individual needs.