How Hearing Loss Incurs Company Health Care Costs and What You Can Do About It

You probably already know it’s in an employer’s best interests to offer some sort of company-sponsored health insurance plan to employees. This incentive doesn’t just attract good workers; it also gives your employees access to good medical care so they can maintain their health and be productive contributors at work.

What you may not know, however, is that including hearing health in your company’s insurance coverage can have a major effect on employees’ general health and incurred health care costs over time, saving your company money. A new study published by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently determined just how much more money is spent on medical expenses for adults with untreated hearing loss.

Additionally, the study found how little money is required to treat this potentially expensive disability.

The Cost of Hearing Loss

As many as 38 million Americans experience hearing loss. That number is expected to double by the year 2060. Most of those people will be part of the workforce and many will be covered by their employer’s health insurance plans. Some of them may be your employees.

At first glance, it might seem that treating hearing loss would drive up premium costs for employers. Therefore, it would be more beneficial for companies to offer plans that don’t include hearing services. However, the Johns Hopkins study found the opposite to be true.

Citing a companion study, researchers determined that untreated adult hearing loss contributes to other health issues, such as dementia, falls, and depression. Treatment for these and other accidents or medical conditions potentially exacerbated by hearing loss were found to have driven up overall health care costs for patients over time.

In fact, during the 10-year study, it was discovered that patients with untreated hearing loss experienced roughly 50% more hospital visits. They were also 44% more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days than patients who were treated for hearing loss. Additionally, untreated patients were 17% more likely to have an emergency room visit.

Furthermore, researchers suspect that hearing loss also contributes to misunderstandings between doctors and patients, resulting in inadequate care. If a patient cannot hear a doctor’s questions, they cannot answer them accurately, nor can they fully understand a doctor’s instructions on how to control or prevent health issues at home. All of this can cause recurring problems and the need for further medical attention.

Over time, these hospitalizations, appointments, and treatments add up and cut into company health care budgets. All in all, the final results were that study subjects with untreated hearing loss incurred an extra $22,434 each in medical expenses over a period of 10 years. For companies contributing to their employees’ insurance premiums, that’s a lot of money!

The Solution

Luckily, there’s a simple way to help employees with hearing loss maximize their health and minimize their health expenses: include hearing care in health insurance plans. By picking insurance that covers hearing loss, you encourage employees to seek diagnosis and treatment when hearing issues arise at a small cost up front to prevent the other health issues associated with hearing loss.

In their studies, Johns Hopkins researchers found that the average total cost for treating hearing loss for one person was only about $600 during the 10-year study. That included doctors visits, exams, hearing devices, and other treatments that restored patients’ hearing. This treatment drastically reduced their risk of the health complications and hospitalizations that cost employers the $22,434 mentioned above for untreated hearing loss patients. Any way you look at it, $600 is significantly more affordable than $22,000!

Your Decision Made Easy

Sometimes, it’s difficult to balance the welfare of your employees with your responsibilities to the company. You can’t take too much from one to benefit the other without consequences. But when it comes to insurance and hearing loss, the situation is win-win. Choosing a group plan that includes hearing services helps employees suffering from hearing loss receive the help they need at a cost your company can afford. Ultimately, you will have a fully-functional worker at a fraction of the price you could incur if their hearing loss was neglected.

Still not convinced? At Virtual Hearing Solutions, we’ve seen the difference good hearing can make for employees and employers alike. That’s why we offer resources about hearing loss for both. If you have questions about how hearing loss can be detrimental to employees and your business and what to do about it, call our customer service team today and get all the answers you need for your hearing loss questions!

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Tyrone Moore