Increasing Medical Treatment for Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has become an increasingly prominent issue in the elderly population. Because current generations will live longer lives than previous generations, the problems associated with aging, such as heading loss, will and has become a larger problem in our society. There is a huge issue in regards to treatment and availability of treatment to these patients. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, which can be very expensive and is most likely the reason why only one in five people suffering from hearing loss use hearing aids. Additionally, there is a problem in the assessment of hearing. In most cases, patients must complain about their hearing in order for a hearing test to be implemented at a doctor’s appointment being that hearing is not usually included in primary care evaluations. The medical lapse in the field of hearing loss can be associated with the idea that hearing loss is natural in the aging process and it is not due to a biological error, therefore does not need medical intervention. However, the effects of medical treatment in hearing loss have increased the productivity, independence and quality of life for these elderly patients.

As a student pharmacist aspiring to enter the medical field, it is an obligation to help patient’s in need in order to increase their quality of life. An emphasis should be placed on improving the treatment availability for hearing loss in all ages, with a concentration on the elderly population. Over 40% of individuals over 60 suffer from hearing loss and the number doubles by the time the population reaches eighty years old with 80% having hearing impairments. Identifying the problem and monitoring yearly can increase the number of patients who receive treatment and possibly prevent the delay in availability of the hearing treatment. This article emphasizes the need for an improvement in areas such as research, treatment availability and insurance coverage.

Cassel, C, Penhoet E, et al. Policy Solutions for Better Hearing. JAMA Intern Med. 2016. Published online January 21, 2016.

JAMA. Published online January 21, 2016

2 thoughts on “Increasing Medical Treatment for Hearing Loss”

  1. Its interesting to think about what we as Pharmacists can do for individuals with hearing loss. Could we at some point become certified to preform hearing tests in order to determine the severity of hearing loss? I think that at some point if we were able to provide these types of services and the patient could take the results with them to the physician, hearing treatment would greatly improve. The insurance issue is another problem entirely. The elderly are the most commonly seen for hearing and vision, so I believe that some form of coverage should be included in the basic medicare.

  2. While many factors influence patients’ accessibility to health services, I believe that increasing health insurance coverage of treatments for hearing loss would have the greatest impact on improving the accessibility to treatment for older adults with this condition. Only recently was my own grandmother able to receive a hearing aid because it was not covered by her Medicare plan. As mentioned in the article, I have witnessed how much my grandmother’s hearing aid has improved her quality of life. Moving forward, I hope health insurance plans, especially Medicare, will increase their coverage of treatments for hearing loss so that more patients will be able to benefit from these services like my grandmother has.

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