The Real Cost of Adult Hearing Loss
The impact of hearing loss in adulthood is little recognised. However, it is linked with higher unemployment, poor health, depression, dementia and increased mortality. Hearing loss is unusual in that its effects cross the health, social care and education domains of service provision and affect every aspect of people’s lives. Today’s hearing technologies offer the opportunity to reduce this impact significantly. Health, social care and wider support systems are under increasing pressure to improve efficiency and find savings.
However the high additional costs to our health, social care and welfare systems as well as our economy of not addressing hearing loss are rarely considered. Hearing loss is treated as a worrying lifestyle issue rather than a serious health issue with a heavy cost burden to the individual and society.
This report is the first to bring together a comprehensive assessment for the UK of the cost of hearing loss and deafness which we estimate to be over £30 billion per annum on a conservative basis. These costs relate to both the direct costs of treating hearing loss, which are comparatively low, and the much larger costs of dealing with the health and social impacts of hearing loss. It is reasonable to assume that these costs in particular are capable of being reduced if hearing loss is properly addressed in a greater proportion of the deaf population.
An evaluation of the overall costs of hearing loss, and the extent to which these would be reduced through better intervention with a
greater number of affected individuals, would both dramatically alter the perception of cost effectiveness of an adult screening programme and also change the basis on which cochlear implants and other interventions are currently commissioned. Thus the question is not can we afford to provide cochlear implants but can we afford not to?
While this report is set in the context of the UK, the issues raised have world-wide implications. The report explores the long term health consequences of hearing loss and deafness on the individual and society. It brings together current research, and presents a new study into the societal costs of hearing loss. It looks in more detail at the health economics of adult cochlear implantation, an area under financial scrutiny in many countries but which has not been set in the context of the additional costs of not providing them as opposed to providing them.
You can download the report by clicking on the link here: AdultReportfinal.pdf