Hearing Health Is Missing From Employee Wellness Programs
POMONA, Calif., May 1, 2015 – While hearing health is fundamentally important to health and productivity, it remains almost completely absent from most employee wellness programs. According to a new survey of more than 500 benefits professionals conducted by EPIC Hearing Healthcare, the majority of employers (70 percent) currently offer a wellness program, but only 8 percent of these integrate hearing health.[i]
“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.”
Not surprisingly, 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 known by less than one-quarter of employers, with vision (23 percent) surpassing hearing health programs (16 percent). [See Table 1.]
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 – and this is consistent among age groups.[ii]
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 even have the option to print 2D and 3D samples of hearing aids to learn about new technologies. The hearing wellness program will integrate with EPIC’s fully insured indemnity hearing health plans already in the marketplace.
In the meantime, employers can continue to access free education resources through Listen Hear! at www.epichearing.com/listenhear to integrate messages about the importance of hearing health into existing health education efforts.
ABOUT EPIC HEARING HEALTHCARE
Founded in 1997, EPIC Hearing Healthcare (EPIC) is the first in the country to provide access to hearing care as an ancillary or specialty benefit. With its extensive network of audiologists and hearing healthcare physicians, and distribution relationships with major hearing aid technology manufacturers, EPIC is now the national leader in hearing healthcare, and the only organization to offer hearing as a fully insured indemnity plan. More information is available at EPICHearing.com.
[i]Online employer survey conducted by Source Media on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare March 23, 2015 – April 1, 2015 among 518 benefits professionals.
[ii]Listen Hear! 2013 Employee Perceptions of Hearing Loss and Hearing Loss Benefits survey. Survey conducted online by Wakefield Research on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare between November 22 and December 13, 2013, among 1,500 nationally representative full-time employed Americans 18+).
Table 1: Have you heard of wellness programs that address any of the following health topics? (Multiple responses allowed.)
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