Picture of the front of an emergency room.

On average, one trip to the ER will cost you as much as $1100. And that doesn’t include any scans, tests or treatments you need during your visit. Those can make the bill reach over $10 thousand for one visit.

Thankfully, with Medicare, you’re only on the hook for 20% if you’ve met your deductible. But this is still an enormous expense you can’t plan for and that hurts.

What if you could save that money and pain by doing something that has been shown to not only prevent costly ER visits but significantly reduce your risk of depression, anxiety, falls, accidents and even dementia.

Emerging studies make the case that, for those with severe hearing loss, wearing their hearing aid could be the difference between staying connected and healthy and ending up spending many nights in the emergency room.

The Study

This University of Michigan study gathered participants ranging from 65-85. Each had severe hearing loss. But only 45% of the participants wore their hearing aids regularly.

This is on par with similar studies that have shown that only about 30% of people who have hearing aids actually wear them.

Of the 585 people in the hearing aid group, 12 fewer people ended up in the ER or non-elective hospital stay.

This may seem like a small number. But it’s statistically significant.

And there’s more. They also found that those who wore their hearing aids spend on average one day fewer in the hospital. They were more likely to keep regular appointments with their doctors, which likely reduced their ER. An MD visit costs much less than the ER and if much less stressful than spending days in the hospital.

How Might Hearing Aids Reduce ER Risk

The first one is obvious. If a person is seeing their doctor, they’re more likely to stay out of ER. But why is this?

Other studies have shown that when people with hearing loss wear their hearing aid, they stay more connected to friends, family and the community. This can lead to both greater drive to keep that doctor’s appointment and better access to services and assistance to get to appointments.

For those driving themselves, it means that they can drive more safely with less anxiety about what they’re not hearing.

Additionally, a study from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found that those with hearing loss who don’t wear their hearing aid are twice as likely to be depressed. Depression can lead to lack of self-care which can lead to health problems.

Thirdly, numerous studies have shown that wearing your hearing aid can reduce fall risk and dementia. As a person begins to lose their hearing, the associated part of the brain begins to decline from disuse. With time, this can spread through the brain. As it does people often experience dementia symptoms as well as the disorientation and lack of balance associated with falls.

Falls are the leading cause of death among those over 65 and the resulting hospital stays last twice as long.

These are only a few of the reasons that hearing aids help reduce ER visits.

Why Do So Many Not Wear Hearing Aids

Some people cite the cost of a hearing aid. Medicare doesn’t cover them.

Some Medicare Advantage companies realize the cost savings of keeping people connected and out of the ER. They recognize that hearing aids contribute to the better health of their subscribers.

They therefore do cover them.

When you compare the cost of a hearing aid to the cost of the seemingly inevitable high ER bills, the choice is simple on an individual level.

Some don’t wear them because they think that hearing aids make them seem older than they are. This perception persists despite the fact that nearly 25% of people over 65 have significant hearing loss and 50% of those 75 and older have it. Hearing loss is not an exception. It’s the norm.

And constantly asking people to repeat themselves often ages a person more than a hearing aid that can barely be seen.

Finally, some don’t like the hearing experience with their hearing aid. This can often be fixed by simply working with your audiologist to learn how to more effectively use your hearing aid in various settings.

If something is stopping you from wearing your hearing aid, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your audiologist.