If you think you have a hearing loss and have never been tested, research shows that putting off that hearing screening could cost you. A Medical University of South Carolina study found that adults age 55-64 years with a diagnosed hearing loss paid between $3,000 to $4,000 more in medical costs than those without a hearing loss over an 18-month period.1 In addition, the South Carolina study found that adults age 55-64 years with an untreated hearing loss paid even more in medical costs than those with a treated hearing loss over 1.5 years. Lead author of the study, Annie N. Simpson, also identified a group of individuals younger than 55 years old with a hearing loss that also had higher medical payments. She states that this finding suggests that the “negative health-related effects of hearing loss…may manifest earlier than is generally recognized and may affect the use of health care across the continuum of care.”
In the South Carolina study, health insurance covered some of the medical costs and the rest was covered by the patient. The increased medical costs for those with a hearing loss paid by the insurance provider could also drive up insurance premiums. “By the time most people seek hearing loss treatment, they’ve developed some cognitive decline and their risk factors for dementia and falling increase by five percent,” adds Concept’s Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist, Summer Alberts-VanVeen. The increased risk of dementia, falling, and social isolation for those with an untreated hearing loss could contribute to the increases in medical costs seen in the South Carolina research.
Over time, the increased medical bills and health insurance premiums can add up. For example, it typically takes five to seven years for someone with a hearing loss to seek testing and treatment. During that time, the extra dollars spent on medical bills pile up while testing and treatment is being put off. With the average cost of a pair of hearing aids between $4,000 to $5,000, depending on how long you put off treatment, you could end up saving money by getting treated sooner, rather than later.