Many Americans over 55 can’t afford hearing aids to help with age-related hearing loss, finds a national study conducted at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. More than a third of older adults use hearing aids, but people who are non-Hispanic white, college-educated, or have an income in the top 25 percent are twice as likely to have them as people of other races and at lower education and income levels.
The reason: Hearing aids are expensive, costing thousands of dollars, and most health insurance plans – including Medicare and some state Medicaid plans – don’t cover them. The Veterans Administration (VA) is the exception, covering hearing aids in many cases. In fact, veterans 55 to 64 with hearing loss are more than twice as likely as their peers who aren’t veterans to use a hearing aid, even after correcting for other differences.
The Michigan analysis involved more than 35,500 people over 55 with hearing loss. According to the researchers:
- 40 percent of non-Hispanic white adults in the study used hearing aids, compared to 18.4 percent of non-Hispanic blacks, and 21.1 percent of Hispanic adults
- About 46 percent of adults in the study who had some college education used hearing aids, compared to about 29 percent of those who hadn't graduated from high school
- Almost 50 percent of adults with incomes in the top 25 percent used hearing aids, compared to about one quarter of those in the bottom 25 percent
Sourced from: The Gerontologist