Untreated hearing loss costs Europe 213 billion euros per year, according to the international scientific report, ”Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of Hearing Impairment”. This equals about 473 euros per year for each adult European.
16% of all adult Europeans, more than 71 million people, suffer from a hearing loss greater than 25 dB, the definition of hearing loss recognised by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
In the EU alone, more than 55 million people are hearing impaired, and the costs in the EU of unaided hearing impairment of all grades are 168 billion per year.
“So many people are affected and the costs to society of untreated hearing loss are so high that something must be done about it. Hearing loss is relatively inexpensive to treat. Two modern digital hearing aids cost about 2,300 euros, last for four to five years and make all the difference in terms of economics for society and quality of life and productivity for the individual. Common sense dictates that this problem be taken extremely seriously,” says Kim Ruberg, Secretary General, Hear-it AISBL.
Based on population statistics, the report makes it possible to calculate the costs of hearing loss in any given region or area of Europe. Applied on a national level, some examples of the cost of untreated adult hearing loss include:
- Germany € 30,200,000,000
- France € 22,400,000,000
- United Kingdom € 22,000,000,000
- Italy € 21,300,000,000
- Spain € 16,300,000,000
- Poland € 14,000,000,000
- The Netherlands € 6,000,000,000
Costs of different degrees of hearing loss
According to the report, a mild hearing loss costs society 2,200 euros per individual each year, a moderate hearing loss costs 6,600 euros annually per person, while a severe or profound hearing loss costs 11,000 euros per person per year. These figures do not include lost income and lost tax revenues due to unemployment or early retirement because of hearing loss.
People with a hearing loss greater than 25 dB generally experience daily problems caused by their hearing loss. Yet, fewer than one in six of those who could benefit from using hearing aids receive adequate treatment.
The calculations in the report are made in accordance with the European Commission standard, setting a statistical value for ‘one quality life year’ at
44,000 euros, and the commonly used Health Utility Index, rating different types and degrees of diseases and sufferings/conditions in relation to a healthy person.
Source: ”Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of Hearing Impairment”, October 2006, Hear-it AISBL