Costs to Society

Across the EU, the cost of unemployment, reduced productivity, and early retirement due to untreated hearing loss is €185 billion per year (Shield, 2019). This is €17 billion more than the EU budget in 2020. 

When non-medical expenses or medical costs for other comorbidities are included, the true cost of hearing loss is estimated to be €213 billion.

Cost of untreated hearing loss

In Western Europe the primary cause of years lost to disability is untreated hearing loss (Davis, 2016). In fact, hearing loss is associated with increased use of hospital and social care services, as well as: 

The index of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) has identified that adult hearing loss will rise to 2.9%. The cost of this reduced quality of life for 196 million Europeans living with hearing loss stands at €67 billion.

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Cost Effective Hearing Care in Europe: Spend to Save

Effective treatment for hearing loss with a person-centred approach to ear and hearing care can reduce or nullify the associated health effects. Cost effective hearing care can also reduce the burden for citizens as well as Europe's health and social care systems. The WHO shows us that countries can deliver positive health benefits and see returns on investment by up to $16 for every $1.40 invested in hearing care.

Return on investment for hearing care

Savings can begin in childhood. As many children living with cochlear implants develop the listening, speech and language skills needed to attend a mainstream school, the cost saving are clear:

Impact of cochlear implantation on the cost of education for children

Read more about hearing loss in children

Research shows us the positive economic impact of treating progressive hearing loss in adults. A study of nearly 100 cochlear implant wearers showed that after 6 years their employment rates increased by 10% and 31% increased their income enough to change income brackets (Clinkard, 2015). 

In the UK, the National Hearing Screening Programme for citizens aged 65+ could save €2.34 billion over the next 10 years (Lamb et al, 2016).

Read more about hearing loss in adults

How can Policy Makers help?

  • Raise awareness of the importance of hearing health, the impact of hearing loss and the benefits of treatment
  • Promote national health strategies, including hearing diagnosis, rehabilitation, service and maintenance
  • Acknowledge access to professional hearing care as a right
  • Promote access to effective treatments
  • Explore and invest in effective methods of prevention and rehabilitation for hearing loss
  • Share best practices among Member States

Related News and Stories

Untreated hearing loss in the EU costs more than the whole EU budget

Around 22.6 million people in the EU live with an untreated, disabling hearing loss. Untreated, disabling hearing loss in the EU costs 185 billion Euros each year. This is 17 billion Euros more than the EU budget for 2020. The costs are related to lower quality of life and higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss.
16/08/2019

Severe Hearing Loss in the Aging Population Poses a Global Public Health Challenge.

How Can We Better Realize the Benefits of Cochlear Implantation to Mitigate This Crisis?

Global costs of unaddressed hearing loss and cost-effectiveness of interventions

Millions of people across the world live with unaddressed hearing loss and lack access to required ear and hearing care services. While the impact of hearing loss on individuals and families is well established, there have been relatively few attempts to assess at its economic costs, especially in lowand middle-income countries and at the global level...