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The Dollars and Sense of Not Having a Hearing Benefit

The purpose of insurance is to protect members from unexpected, high medical costs. This is accomplished by offering in-network health care in which members pay less out-of-pocket costs and through free preventative care, vaccinations, screenings and annual checkups.

Having or adding a hearing benefit can help save your organization and your members from having to pay costly medical bills. Hearing loss on its own is a debilitating condition that can stem from prolonged exposure to loud noises or birth defects. But hearing loss can also be a telltale sign of another chronic, serious condition that is hiding in your member’s body that has yet to be diagnosed.

Studies have shown that hearing loss is linked to certain comorbid conditions.
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Depression
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Hearing loss is also linked to workplace injuries and slip and falls.

Chronic conditions are expensive to maintain and can severely impact healthcare costs. In fact, persons with untreated hearing loss have 46% higher healthcare costs than those with normal hearing.

Heart Disease

The obstruction of blood flow to the vessels caused by heart disease can cause hearing loss. Heart disease and stroke kills more than 868,000 Americans die of heart disease or stroke every year equaling one-third of all deaths. Heart disease costs the U.S. healthcare system $214 billion per year and causes $138 billion in lost work productivity. 

Cancer Treatment

Hearing loss is a side effect of chemotherapy drugs and radiation. Over 60% of cancer patients ages 8 months to 23 years reported hearing loss after treatment. More than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. Approximately $183 billion was spent in the U.S. on cancer related health care in 2015, and this amount is projected to grow to $246 billion by 2030—an increase of 34%. 

Diabetes

Diabetes damages the body’s nerves and small blood vessels, like the ones found in the ear, causing hearing loss. More than 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million have prediabetes, which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes. In 2017, the total estimated cost of diabetes was $327 billion in medical costs and lost work productivity.

Kidney Disease

Kidney diseases can be a result of diabetes are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 37 million U.S. adults are estimated to have kidney disease, and most are undiagnosed and 40% of people with severely reduced kidney function are unaware of having it. In 2018, treating Cost for the treatment of kidney disease is over $81.8 billion.

Depression

Individuals with hearing loss can begin to self-isolate and become depressed. About 16 million Americans suffer from depression (approximately 6-7% of full-time workers). The costs for depression are now estimated to be $210.5 billion per year.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Studies have shown that the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease triples for individuals with hearing loss. Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that affects about 5.7 million U.S. adults. The cost for care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia is estimated to be around $277 billion. By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 billion and $500 billion annually.

Slip and Falls

Individuals with even a mild case of hearing loss increases their risk of having an accidental fall by 140%. The medical costs associated with accidental falls are estimated at $30-$50 billion annually.

Workplace Injuries

Hearing loss can not only affect one of your members, but his or her fellow employees. Around 22 million workers are exposed to dangerous levels of noise each year, and about $242 million is allocated to worker’s compensation per year for hearing loss disabilities. 

There is no doubt that individuals with hearing loss are more likely to have high healthcare bills due to the deterioration of their condition, or because of conditions linked with hearing loss.   

The cost of age-related hearing loss is estimated to be $297,000 over the lifetime of every affected person and nationally, the total cost of first-year hearing loss treatment is projected to skyrocket between 2002 and 2030, from $8.2 billion to $51.4 billion. Hearing benefits aren’t an option, it’s a necessity. Be sure you have the right one for your members. Their health and well-being depend on it.