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Study: Lowering cost doesn't increase hearing aid purchases
Date:5/10/2011

DETROIT Lowering the cost of hearing aids isn't enough to motivate adults with mild hearing loss to purchase a device at a younger age or before their hearing worsens, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital.

A new study shows that simply lowering the cost of hearing aids even by as much as 40% does not improve hearing aid purchase for patients with partial insurance coverage or those who need to cover the entire cost out of pocket.

Only patients with full insurance coverage for hearing aids get them at a younger age and with significantly less hearing loss than patients with partial or no coverage.

Still, those with full coverage were less likely to upgrade to more advanced devices, or purchase hearing aids for both ears than others in the study, if it meant going beyond what's covered by insurance and having to pay for additional costs.

"Many in health care assume that patients would more readily acquire hearing aids at a younger age or before their hearing loss becomes more severe if the devices were less expensive," says study lead author Virginia Ramachandran, Au.D., an audiologist at Henry Ford Hospital. "But it's clear from our study that patients are motivated by more than cost when deciding to purchase hearing aids."

The study appears in the May issue of The Hearing Journal.

Hearing loss is a common problem in older adults. For many it's more of an annoyance rather than something that impacts their ability to function. In fact, about 75% to 80% of adults with mild hearing loss do not get hearing aids, despite the potential benefits.

While even mild hearing loss can have a negative impact on quality of life, it is still unclear exactly why more people are not motivated to use hearing aids.

In many cases, patients have negative attitudes toward hearing aids, even though the devices have greatly improved in terms of comfort and visibility in the ear. Likewise,
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Contact: Krista Hopson
khopson1@hfhs.org
313-874-7207
Henry Ford Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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