Why is hearing health missing from employee wellness programs, when vision and dental coverage are often provided? For May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month, EPIC Hearing Healthcare is taking the opportunity to urge employers to revisit their wellness program offerings to ensure that hearing health is covered. EPIC reports that it conducted a new survey of more than 500 benefits professionals and found that the majority of employers (70 percent) currently offer a wellness program, but only 8% of these integrate hearing health.
“The majority of hearing loss can be easily managed with the right access to hearing care and hearing aid treatment,” said Brad Volkmer, president and CEO, EPIC Hearing Healthcare. “Tragically, many people put off treatment until hearing loss worsens and has already taken a toll on their health and well-being. By integrating hearing health into wellness programs, employers can provide the push employees need to have their hearing checked regularly, so they can stay fully engaged and productive on and off the job.”
According to EPIC’s research, employers are far more familiar with wellness programs addressing overall preventive health issues such as weight control (94 percent), exercise (89 percent), smoking (88 percent), and diabetes management (69 percent) than programs promoting healthy senses. Vision and hearing health programs are offered to less than one-quarter of employers, with vision (23 percent) surpassing hearing health programs (16 percent).
EPIC proposes that this could be because employers are not aware of the scope of hearing loss among employees, assuming only the retired population is at risk. The truth is that approximately 30 percent of employees report they suspect they have hearing loss, but have not sought treatment.
EPIC noted that when educated on how detrimental untreated hearing loss is to employee productivity, employers have a definite change of heart. In EPIC’s survey, when employers were asked whether they would integrate a hearing health wellness product into their wellness program if they knew that almost all employees with untreated hearing loss report that it impacts them on the job, a resounding 86 percent said they were very likely to do so.
According to Volkmer, EPIC Hearing Healthcare is working on a hearing health wellness program to be rolled out as part of its Listen Hear! public education initiative later in 2015. The interactive program will incentivize employees to watch educational videos, test their knowledge through an online quiz, take an online hearing assessment, and have the option to print 2D and 3D samples of hearing aids to learn about new technologies. The hearing wellness program will reportedly integrate with EPIC’s fully insured indemnity hearing health plans already on the market.