Hearing economics: The costs of untreated hearing loss

Isabella, left, and Annalisa Phelps, right, watch as Vicki White pours cooking oil into plastic beakers at the afternoon session of her spring break science camp at Old Orchard Park on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

According to a 2011 national study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), people with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in annual income. As a result, the cost to U.S. taxpayers could be as much as $26 billion in unrealized federal tax collections.

The BHI study included over 40,000 households and showed that the use of hearing aids can reduce the risk of income loss by 90-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss.

The executive director of BHI, Sergel Kochkin, Ph.D., commented in a press release, “More than 34 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Roughly 60 percent of them are in the workforce. Our study showed that when hearing loss is left unaddressed, it can pose significant barriers to productivity, performance, career success, and also to lifelong earnings.”

There is extensive research concerning the impact of hearing loss on quality of life. When we talk of quality of life, healthy hearing per se is not just to enhance aesthetic pleasure of acoustic sounds in a person’s environment.

Indeed, hearing loss has been shown to negatively impact nearly every dimension of the human experience including physical health, emotional and mental health, perceptions of mental acuity, social skills, family relationships, self-esteem not to mention work and school performance.

The loss in income for people with untreated hearing loss due to underemployment is estimated at $176 billion, according to the BHI study. The study also showed that there is a strong relationship between the degree of hearing loss and unemployment for those who do not use hearing aids. Those with severe hearing loss had a 15.6 percent unemployment rate, which is double that of the normal-hearing population (7.8 percent) and nearly double that of their peers (8.3 percent) who use hearing aids.

Audiology Associates would like to help if you are experiencing hearing loss. Our audiologists are a great resource for suggestions or information. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, please call 661-284-1900.

Kevin Bolder, Au.D., works with clients in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. For more information, go online to www.AudiologyAssociates.net, or visit the office at 23838 Valencia Blvd, Ste. 100, Valencia.

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