Untreated hearing loss has a substantial negative economic impact on society. On the other hand, the good news is that the use of hearing instruments has many positive economic impacts on society.
The societal costs of untreated hearing loss are a result of costs of lost quality of life among the millions of people living with an untreated hearing loss. Other major costs are lost productivity due to unemployment, underemployment and early retirement among those with an untreated hearing loss. This, on the other hand, results in increased costs to unemployment benefit, social security and pensions and in lower tax revenues. Furthermore, untreated hearing loss substantially increases health care costs.
Lost quality of life and lost productivity
The report, “Hearing loss – Numbers and Costs”, a scientific report researched and written by Professor Bridget Shield, Brunel University and published by hear-it AISBL, documents that lower quality of life due to disabling hearing loss costs 130 billion Euros each year in the EU. Lost productivity in society due to a higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss costs another 55 billion Euros each year in the EU. In total, untreated disabling hearing loss costs 185 billion Euros each year in the EU. This figure does not include increased health care costs due to untreated hearing loss.
In the EU alone, there are 22.6 million people living with an untreated disabling hearing loss.
Increased health care costs
Several scientific studies have documented that untreated hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline and dementia, depressive disorders, falls and injuries, stroke, social isolation, fatigue and low energy and other health problems.
For people with an untreated hearing loss, healthcare costs increase by 46% per person over a period of 10 years, compared to people without a hearing loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US.
The benefits of treating hearing loss
Many scientific studies in the recent years have documented that the use of hearing aids and other hearing instruments such as cochlear implants or other hearing implants results in better quality of life for the hard of hearing and increases society’s productivity due to less unemployment, less underemployment and fewer early retirements, which again result in more tax revenues. At the same time, the use of hearing instruments results in better general health and less spending on health care, as the use of hearing instruments to a large extent mitigate the comorbidities related to hearing loss.
Invest in hearing healthcare
“Treating hearing loss with hearing instruments increases quality of life immensely and makes economic sense for example by increasing productivity and reducing health care costs. And at the same time, the millions of people with a hearing loss will have a better life and can continue to contribute to society if they are professionally fitted with hearing instruments such as hearing aids or implants. Therefore, I recommend that governments and public administrations invest in professional hearing healthcare. It is a very sound investment for society”, says Secretary General Kim Ruberg, hear-it AISBL.