Washington, DC — According to a national study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), those with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in annual income. As a result, the cost to US tax payors 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% to 100% for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65% to 77% for those with severe to moderate hearing loss.

The executive director of BHI, Sergei Kochkin, PhD, commented in a press release, "More than 34 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Roughly 60% 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."

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 a15.6% unemployment rate, which is double that of the normal-hearing population (7.8%), and nearly double that of their peers (8.3%) who use hearing aids.

Based on the new study and risk to worker productivity and wages, Kochkin urges employers to encourage the use of hearing aids in the workforce by taking one or more of the following steps:

  • Create a corporate climate where hearing loss is acceptable. This may positively affect workers who feel stigmatized and hide their hearing loss on the job;
  • Cover hearing aids in corporate insurance plans;
  • Recommend that employees use the company’s medical flex-spend program to buy hearing aids;
  • Provide easy accommodations, such as moving an employee’s desk away from noisy hallways or installing a phone that amplifies high frequencies;
  • Design cubicles with noise-absorbent materials or equip meeting rooms with inductive loops; and
  • Direct human resource executives to increase awareness and education among employees of the importance of addressing hearing loss.

To facilitate a timely hearing test for all American workers, BHI offers an online hearing loss screening test at www.hearingcheck.org.

SOURCE: Better Hearing Institute