Older patients on fixed incomes frequently have trouble paying for healthcare. They are more likely to have problems with transportation and mobility problems, and estimates indicate that 15% of older adults in the U.S. do not have access to the internet and all the valuable information found online. All of these considerations make it difficult for older adults to access healthcare. Hearing healthcare services can be almost impossible to receive for older people with hearing problems. A new study is casting light on this problem and will hopefully encourage Medicare to expand its coverage of hearing healthcare services.
Approximately 20 million Americans aged 60 and older have untreated hearing loss. The high cost of hearing aids often makes accessing hearing health services difficult. According to research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, A high proportion of older adults with hearing aids experience problems hearing and difficulty accessing hearing healthcare services.
The findings, based on Medicare survey data, encourage the federal government to expand Medicare coverage of hearing healthcare. The 1,133 Medicare participants in the study indicate that income level decides whether a hearing aid will function properly or not. Twenty-seven percent of the participants in the study report trouble with hearing aids as opposed to 11 percent in the highest income category. Those in the lower income category feel that limited access to hearing services prevent their hearing aids from optimal performance. The researchers believe that an expansion of Medicare services for hearing health will benefit those in lower income categories by giving them more access to hearing aid services.
Some programs and foundations can financially assist older people who need hearing aids. A great place to start is the Hearing Loss Association of America which may provide information regarding any city, county, or state programs that can help. Several nonprofit organizations can help with discounted or even free hearing aids. Here are a few:
If you would like more resources, check out the Better Hearing Institute for a listing of more resources to help you find the hearing aids you need. You can also call the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at 800-241-1044 for a list of hearing aid financial resources.