Untreated hearing loss a serious workplace conditionNews added by Benefits Pro on March 17, 2014
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Joined: September 07, 2011

By Dan Cook

Could hearing loss be tied to profit-and-loss?

New evidence suggests that a significant number of employees either don’t hear what they are being told or, due to hearing issues, misunderstand what they’ve heard.

This comes to us from EPIC Hearing Healthcare, which surveyed 2,000 workers and benefits professionals on the subject of hearing. Of those interviewed, 30 percent said they “suspect” they have a hearing problem but haven’t had one diagnosed. Of those, 95 percent agreed that it has had a negative impact on their job.

When asked to further delineate how their suspected hearing loss presents itself at work, here’s what they said:
  • 61 percent said they have to ask people to repeat what they said.
  • 57 percent said they have to strain to understand a conversation when there is background noise or other people are talking at the same time.
  • 42 percent say they often misunderstand what is being said.
  • 40 percent admit they sometimes pretend to hear when they cannot.
  • 37 percent said their suspected hearing loss affects them in phone conversations.
Other data produced by the EPIC survey revealed that 28 percent of employees falsely believe that most medical plans cover the cost of hearing aids. Another 18 percent think they will be automatically covered by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Four in 10 said they knew nothing about coverage of the cost of hearing aids.

“Employers are better informed, but still not completely clear,” EPIC reported. “For example, only 43 percent understand that hearing aids are eligible expenses for FSAs and HSAs.”

Helpfully, EPIC provided other hearing-loss related data gathered by others. One cited was the Better Hearing Institute, which has done studies linking untreated hearing loss to:
  • Irritability, negativism and anger;
  • avoidance or withdrawal from social situations;
  • social rejection and loneliness;
  • reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety;
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks;
  • diminished psychological and overall health.
“All of these impacts of untreated hearing loss are likely taking a serious toll on employee productivity and the potential for more costly errors or missed opportunities when key information is missed,” said Brad Volkmer, president and CEO of EPIC Hearing Healthcare. “Strain from untreated hearing loss can not only negatively influence an employee’s work product, it can also take a further toll on the employee’s health and well-being by causing excessive anxiety and stress, even contributing to depression.”

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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