Recently, experts around the globe have been sounding the alarm about the rapidly growing numbers of people suffering from hearing loss. In addition to the more than 60% of adults over the age of 70 who have hearing problems, noise-induced hearing loss is rampant among young Millennials, resulting in millions of more cases worldwide. And in the United States, with the Baby Boomer generation reaching advanced age, the problem is only going to get worse in the years to come.
Given the widespread prevalence of hearing loss, you would think that obtaining treatment would be easy and affordable, but unfortunately that isn't true. Currently, most insurance providers don't cover hearing screenings, treatment or the purchase of assistive devices, such as hearing aids. This gap in coverage means that the vast majority of hearing loss sufferers have to pay for these costly services out-of-pocket. Since many of these services are prohibitively expensive, many people are forgoing treatment altogether, which can be detrimental to their short- and long-term health.
Problems Associated with Hearing Loss
Not being able to take in auditory information from the world around you is bad enough, but hearing loss also comes with a number of other negative side effects. People who are hard of hearing are more prone to falls, collisions and other types of accidents. Additionally, people who suffer from hearing loss are at a greater risk for in-home mishaps as well, due to their inability to hear the smoke detector going off.
Hearing loss has also been linked to several mental disorders as well. According to information collected from numerous longitudinal studies, hearing loss sufferers are more prone to develop dementia later in life. Additionally, sufferers also have a higher incidence of depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation. Since people with hearing loss have a decreased ability to interact with the world around them, they typically avoid social situations, which only exacerbates their mental decline and perpetuates the cycle.
So What Can Be Done?
While hearing-related health insurance coverage is minimal, it is possible to get at least some portion of diagnostic hearing and balance exams covered through Medicare. If you have the supplemental policy, known as Medigap, your out-of-pocket for these exams is only 20%, when they're ordered through your regular primary care physician.
Currently, advocates are lobbying for Medicare and other insurers to pay more for hearing-related services, but there is no indication of when or even if that change is likely to occur. Still, getting treatment for hearing loss is imperative in order to maintain the highest possible quality of life. So even though it may be expensive, hearing loss sufferers need to schedule regular hearing exams and purchase assistive devices so that they can maintain contact with the world around them.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!