What’s untreated hearing loss costing your organization? In laying out the premise for World Hearing Day — Wednesday, March 3 — the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that unaddressed hearing loss comes with a global price tag of $750 billion U.S. dollars. This dilemma involves people of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
Other findings cited in a WHO fact sheet on deafness and hearing loss include:
- Only 17% of individuals with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them — an 83% gap between need and treatment.
- Approximately one-third of people over age 65 are affected by disabling hearing loss.
Although World Hearing Day is globally focused, the WHO’s findings are consistent with the situation in the U.S. Here, an estimated 14.6 million individuals live with untreated, disabling hearing loss, which translates to an annual cost of $133 billion, or $9,100 per person, states an article in The Hearing Review by Kim Ruberg, Secretary General of Hear-it AISBL.
Viewed from another perspective, individuals with untreated hearing loss incurred, on average, 46% higher total health care costs — or $22,434 per patient— versus their normal-hearing peers over the course of a decade, with health plans covering $20,403 of this amount, according to a John Hopkins study. Documented comorbidities of hearing loss include depression, dementia, social isolation and injury-causing falls.