Hearing loss is associated with higher health care spending and use, but little is known about the unmet health care needs of people with hearing loss or difficulty. Analysis of 2016 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data for beneficiaries ages sixty-five and older reveals that those who reported a lot of trouble hearing in the past year were 49 percent more likely than those who reported no trouble hearing to indicate not having a usual source of care. Compared with those who reported no trouble hearing, those who reported some trouble hearing were more likely to indicate not having obtained medical care in the past year when they thought it was needed, as well as not filling a prescription, with the risk for both behaviors being greater among those reporting a lot of trouble hearing versus a little. Interventions that improve access to hearing services and aid communication may help older Medicare beneficiaries meet their health care needs.
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