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April 19, 2012

Hearing loss the sixth most expensive health condition

Hearing loss costs the Dutch society almost one billion Euros annually. This is shown in a report from University Medical Center in Groningen in the Netherlands.

Hearing loss the sixth most expensive health condition

Social health expenditure is rising each year. The cause of this is that we are getting older while the average age of contracting a chronic illness is falling. In other words, we are sick for longer.
CPB, The Netherlands Bureau for Economic Analysis, has forecast that health care costs will rise to almost a quarter of the Dutch GNP by 2050. In a more “optimistic” scenario, the health care expenditure may be limited to less than 20%.

University Medical Center, Groningen, have calculated, in their report “Healthy Ageing”, that hearing loss cost the Dutch society around 950 million Euros in 2007. That makes hearing loss the sixth most expensive condition. The most costly is cardiovascular disease, which costs the Dutch society almost 4.5 billion Euros. This is followed by Alzheimers/dementia with more than 2.6 billion Euros. Diabetes costs a touch more than hearing loss at just over one billion Euros.

Today, women have a life expectancy of nearly 83 years while men can expect to live for nearly 79 years. In 1981, these figures were 79 and almost 73 respectively. In 2050 these figures are expected to rise by an additional 4 - 5 years.

Fewer healthy years

Paradoxically, the average number of healthy years is declining. From 54.5 years for men in 1981 to 47.6 in 2009, while for women this drop is from almost 54 years to 41.8. This means more years with chronic diseases and conditions, e.g. hearing loss. The three reasons for this are ageing, environment and lifestyle and the medicine which actually keeps us alive.

The major challenge of healthy ageing lies in extending our health span, keeping us healthy for longer and pushing morbidity as far to the end of our lives as possible. The main cure for almost all diseases and conditions is prevention.

Source: Healthy Ageing, University Medical Center in Groningen, 2011:

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