Hearing management

Updated 29 November 2017

Hearing loss tied to bigger medical bills for late middle-aged

Researchers say more study needed to learn how hearing aids and other interventions for hearing loss might save money


Hearing loss is associated with higher medical costs for late middle-aged adults, a new study finds.

Researchers examined health care use by nearly 562,000 adults between the ages of 55 and 64 who had private insurance. They found that over 18 months, those with hearing loss had 33 percent higher health care costs (R 213518.96 on average) than those without hearing loss (R 160227.39)

However, the study only showed an association between hearing loss and higher medical costs, and not a cause-and-effect link.

Read: Hearing impairment in middle age

The study was published online April 7 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

More than 60 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 70 have age-related hearing loss, and the rate of hearing loss triples between the ages of 50 and 60, the researchers said.

"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," study author Annie Simpson said in a journal news release.

Read: Can hearing aids reduce forgetfulness?

She is an assistant professor in the department of healthcare leadership and management at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston.

The researchers said more study is needed to understand the reasons for the cost differences, and how much early use of hearing aids and other hearing loss remedies might lower costs.

"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," the researchers concluded.

Read more: 

What is hearing loss? 

Symptoms of hearing loss 

Preventing hearing loss


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Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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