Health Care Options for Hearing Loss (and Other Overlooked Issues)

Hearing loss, depleted vision and mental health concerns are often overlooked priorities as weight control and smoking cessation take precedence in many companies’ wellness programs. In reality, such overlooked areas are just as essential. For example, if left untreated, hearing issues can be detrimental to your employees’ mental and social health, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Ultimately, your workers’ productivity is affected too.

The financial cost of hearing impairment is estimated between $122 billion and $186 billion annually, according to World Wide Hearing. The majority of this setback is caused by lost productivity, which makes up 57 percent of all costs connected to hearing issues. While 50 percent of the costs of hearing impairment could be fixed simply by providing hearing aids, such devices are expensive. On the other hand, annual lost earnings due to serious mental illness among workers amounts to a whooping $193.2 billion in America, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And depending on the medical plan, hearing health and depleted vision are not always covered.

As an employer, you can consider introducing the following health care options to reduce your employees’ out-of-pocket expenses on hearing-related services, as well as treatment for other overlooked concerns:

Flexible Spending Accounts

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) reduces employees’ taxable income and sets aside money that can be used to offset expenses for hearing aids, other medical devices or therapy sessions. There are certain stipulations on these, outlined in the Affordable Care Act.

Employer Sponsored Ancillary/Specialty Benefits Plan

You can opt to cover healthy hearing through ancillary benefits. A place to start looking is the comprehensive plan option of your company-sponsored health insurance. Determine if it covers a variety of services, such as expenses for hearing aids or cochlear implants, therapy sessions, hearing tests and treatments as well as audiologist visits. Vision plans are also a good way to offer additional benefits to your employees that are typically very affordable both for the employer and the employee.

How to Educate Your Staff About These Benefits

Employees with hearing loss or less common health issues may not be aware of what their current health plan offers in relation to their health needs. The most effective way to point your employees in the right direction is to create content for your company’s newsletters and brochures. Scheduling a mandatory visual presentation or creating a fun game that centers on learning about your benefits can also help spread the word.

Since listening is an essential skill, treating hearing loss should always be an available health option to not only enhance job performance and productivity, but also to promote safety, staff morale and overall success in the workplace. It goes without saying that the same option should be given to workers suffering from vision depletion, mental illness and other burdensome health concerns.

Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.

COVID-19 Resources: Managing Your Business During a Crisis