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 wh
|Contact: Krista Hopson|
Henry Ford Health System