BHI: People with untreated hearing loss lose income annually

March 1, 2011 in Advocacy & Access
BHI: People with untreated hearing loss lose income annually

Press release, Better Hearing Institute, 2/24/11

People with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss, according to the latest national study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI).  And the cost to society is estimated to be as high as $26 billion in unrealized federal taxes.

Use of hearing aids was  shown to reduce the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss, the study of more than 40,000 households showed.

“More than 34 million Americans suffer from hearing loss,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of BHI. “Roughly 60 percent 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. And 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 unemployment rates (15.6%) double that of the normal-hearing population (7.8%), and nearly double that of their peers (8.3%) who use hearing aids.

About 11 percent of the U.S. population has some degree of hearing loss. Yet hearing loss remains one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today. In fact, only 40 percent of Americans with moderate to severe hearing loss and 9 percent of those with mild hearing loss wear hearing aids. What’s more, fewer than 15 percent of those who received a physical exam in the last year said they received a hearing screening by their physician or nurse during that exam—despite the fact that the vast majority of those with hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids.

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