Higher Medical Costs Seen in Middle-Aged Adults with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss carries significant negative health-related effects.

Researchers found that adults aged 55 to 64 diagnosed with hearing loss experience higher medical costs than those who have not been diagnosed, a study published online by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery reported.

There were 561,764 subjects included in this study. One group was composed of middle-aged adults diagnosed with hearing loss and the other group was composed of middle-aged adults who have not been diagnosed with hearing loss.

The healthcare costs for both groups were studied over a period of 18 months. The researchers gathered data on inpatient services, outpatient services, prescription medication, and the cost of hearing services.

The researchers found that the subjects diagnosed with hearing loss had 33% higher healthcare costs than the subjects who were not diagnosed.

On average, patients with hearing loss spent $14,165, while patients without hearing loss spent $10,649.

"This finding indicates that negative health-related effects of hearing loss, a condition that many consider simply an unavoidable result of aging, may manifest earlier than is generally recognized and may affect use of health care across the continuum of care. Studies are needed to identify the underlying factors that lead to the observed cost differences, as well as to ascertain the extent to which early and successful use of hearing aids and other hearing loss interventions modify cost differences,” Annie N. Simpson, PhD said in a press release. “Nevertheless, our study suggests that hearing loss is costly, even in middle-aged individuals, and is present in large numbers of adults for whom early, successful intervention may prevent future hearing-related disabilities and decreased quality of life."