Navigation Links
Study: Lowering cost doesn't increase hearing aid purchases

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, patients with mild hearing loss often feel they don't need hearing aids.

Study co-author Brad A. Stach, Ph.D., points out that a lot of people view buying a hearing aid along same line as buying a new refrigerator: It's an expensive item, so even if it's on sale, you won't spend the extra money unless you need it.

"On the other hand, if you need a new refrigerator, you'll shop around to get the best value for the best appliance. It's no different with hearing aids. Most patients will only get them if they feel they need them, regardless of cost, and will often spend a little extra to get the best device," says Dr. Stach, division head of Henry Ford Audiology.

Aside from the Veteran's Administration system, hearing aid care in the U.S. is generally not fully covered by insurance.

To determine how much of a factor cost is in hearing aid acquisition, the Henry Ford study looked at 1,200 patients who got hearing aids between 2007 and 2010. The patients had either full insurance coverage, partial insurance coverage or had to cover the entire cost out of pocket (private pay).

As part of the study, the cost for hearing aids in the partial insurance coverage group was reduced by 20% for two devices or 40% for one device.

The study shows that patients who had full coverage for hearing aids obtained them about seven years earlier and with better hearing than the other two groups. But there was no difference in age or hearing loss between people who paid for the full cost of hearing aids or purchased hearing aids at a substantially reduced cost.

The more patients had to pay out of pocket (partial and private pay groups) the more likely they were to upgrade to a more advanced device. Patients with full coverage were the least likely to upgrade, and only purchased what was fully covered by insurance.

According to the study, the only situation in which patients are motivated to get hearing aids earlier is when they are provided at no cost.

But "free" could come at a higher price to patients' hearing health, says Dr. Ramachandran. "If insurance only fully covers certain hearing aids, patients may miss out on reaping the benefits of more technologically advanced devices or devices better suited to their needs."

Hearing aids have also greatly advanced in appearance and comfort.

"What people may not realize is that hearing aids now aren't like the ones your grandparents used to wear. Most are small and very easy to wear," says Dr. Ramachandran. "The challenge is changing old perceptions about hearing aids, and showing patients that the benefits far outweigh concerns about appearance and even cost."

Dr. Ramachandran adds that hearing aids can have tremendous benefit for patients with milder degrees of hearing loss.

But the most important thing is that the hearing aids are appropriately fit by an experienced audiologist. Even the best hearing aid on the market won't help if it is not fit properly by an expert.


Contact: Krista Hopson
Henry Ford Health System

Related medicine news :

1. Study: Choice between stroke-prevention procedures influenced by patient age
2. UNC study: Obese 3-year-olds show early warning signs for future heart disease
3. New Study: Improved Immune System with Gene-Eden, a Natural Antiviral Supplement that Targets Chronic Viruses
4. Henry Ford Hospital study: Shoulder function not fully restored after surgery
5. Study: Federal funds support health depts., but leadership is key
6. Study: Kidney disease a big risk for younger, low-income minorities
7. Study: Mechanomyography to be accurate in detecting nerves during minimally invasive spine surgery
8. Study: Low Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Higher Rates of Asthma in African American Kids
9. Study: Child health may suffer in strong economy
10. Study: Social influence playing role in surging autism diagnoses
11. Children's Rights Group Agrees with New Study: Infant Circumcision Causes 100 Deaths Each Year in US
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Study: Lowering cost doesn't increase hearing aid purchases
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... locations throughout Arkansas that offers insurance and financial preparation services, is providing an ... Rock City Rescue organization. , Rock City Rescue is a locally recognized nonprofit ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... The International Association of Eating Disorders ... for the field of eating disorders, announces the opening of early registration for ... Florida at the Omni Resort at ChampionsGate. , The annual iaedp™ ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes , which ... evacuation of the facility as part of a disaster drill on October 3rd. , ... and Shelton City Emergency Manager, as well as the Connecticut Long Term Care ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids Fun Run brought out many kids this ... by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, is aimed at getting kids excited about ... ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, which is all about having fun and ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the Mountains to the ... save lost souls in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission ... of the Bible. She has taught all ages and currently teaches a class of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/28/2017)... WASHINGTON , Sept. 28, 2017 Cohen ... to advance the use of wearable and home sensors ... brain disorders. Early Signal Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused ... populations, will provide an affordable analytical system to record ... ...
(Date:9/25/2017)... , Sept. 25, 2017   Montrium , ... File solutions, today—from the IQPC Trial Master Files ... , NL)—announced that EastHORN Clinical Services has selected ... programs and TMF management. EastHORN, a leading European ... platform to increase transparency to enable greater collaboration ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... Sept. 22, 2017  As the latest Obamacare repeal ... Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham ... the medical device industry is in an odd place. ... the 2.3% excise tax on medical device sales passed ... want covered patients, increased visits and hospital customers with ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: