Untreated Hearing Loss Leads to Higher Health Care Costs

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Study followed subjects for 10 years.

Older adults with untreated hearing loss incur substantially higher total health care costs compared to those without hearing loss, MedicalXpress reports.

The difference adds up to $22,434 per person over a decade, according to a new study led by researchers the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It’s one of the largest studies to look at this issue, following many people for a full 10 years. The project was done in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and OptumLabs.

The differences between the two groups became evident as early as two years after diagnosis. Compared to the patients without hearing loss, patients with the condition generated nearly 26 percent more in total health care costs within two years, and the gap widened to 46 percent by 10 years, amounting to $22,434 per individual ($20,403 incurred by the health plan, $2,030 by the individual in out-of-pocket costs).

The study did not include patients with hearing loss who used hearing aids.

The findings, published Nov. 8 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, add to a growing body of research from Johns Hopkins and elsewhere showing the detriments of untreated hearing loss, including a higher risk of dementia and cognitive decline, falls, depression and lower quality of life.

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