How Much Does My Hearing Loss Cost Me?

Gael Hannan
November 22, 2011

I am not an economist or accountant, but it doesn’t take a degree to figure out that hearing loss has cost me and my family a mighty chunk of change through the years.

Without a thorough economic impact study, it’s difficult to determine the true cost of hearing loss to individuals. It’s a moving target with many variables – income of self and family, personality, upbringing, type and degree of hearing loss, home state or province, and willingness to embrace hearing loss and adopt technology.

The saying that no two snowflakes are the same also applies to those of us with hearing loss. On paper, my audiogram may be identical to that of a dental technician in Des Moines, but how she and I function and how we cope may be completely different. But one thing for sure – we both feel the financial pinch.

For fun (kind of), I did a quick exercise to tally the cash outlay for items needed to manage my own severe-to-profound hearing loss over the past two to three years. As I added it up, two things arose – the hair on the back of my neck and the bile in my throat.


$4000              Hearing Aids

175                    Extended Service Warranty

80                    Batteries

150                    Neckloop

50                      Mileage to/from Audiologist

30                     Dry-Aid

75                      Door Knocker

300                  Alerting System

40                    Shake-A-Wake

200                 Hearing aid compatible phone

200                 Hearing aid compatible cellphone

500                New TV for better captioning

50                    Consumer Group Memberships

100                Hearing Loss Information Books

Add in the available credits (available in Ontario)  -1500

Total Hard, Cold Cash:              $ 4, 380.00!

But wait! There’s more! The above figure doesn’t take into account the time and effort – the in-kind cost – that are associated with having hearing loss. If time is money, let’s attach a cost of $1 to every 1 minute of time I spend on activities related to my personal hearing loss.






$ 36,500

Asking for something to be repeated



Hearing healthcare appointments, including filling out forms to apply for applicable refunds


Explaining my communication needs to others (general)



Explaining why it’s unfair to have to pay $2 more than anyone else just because I need an ALD in live theatre


Explaining and pursuing effective communication in a work environment



Daily hearing aid care (changing batteries and wax guards)



Punching hearing aid to activate/deactivate t-switch .5


Turning captioning back on (after family has turned off when I leave the room)



Listening to bad hearing jokes when I tell people I’m hard of hearing


Stressing about hearing loss (Have I missed something important? Appeared stupid? Didn’t stand up for myself?)



Sub-Total In-Kind Costs

$ 43,288

Sub-Total Hard, Cold Cash



$ 47,668

Whoa, who knew? And this little exercise does not take into account the time and effort that my family, friends, clients and colleagues expend in order to communicate effectively with me.

I’m fortunate to have the means to pay for my hearing loss. Communicating is important to me; I demand quality technology and I’m willing to spend the necessary time to ensure optimal communication.

But what is the cost, the true impact, on someone who struggles emotionally with their hearing loss? The high price of hearing aids and other technology are deal-breakers for many people who have families, who have low income or who live on fixed pensions. If a hard of hearing senior decides against buying a hearing aid even though he needs one – what devastating cost does this impose on his personal safety, human engagement, and emotional wellbeing?

We need to work together – governments, industry and consumers – to help reduce the financial and emotional burden on people with hearing loss. Let’s make hearing aids and assistive technology more affordable. Let’s make aural rehabilitation a standard component of hearing health care.

If we don’t, the cost of poorly managed hearing loss will rise to the point where it is incalculable.

Hearing loss is one of our most common disabilities, yet one that is still largely ignored by our governments. Its financial wallop is not limited to individuals; there is a powerful ripple effect pending because the number of Americans and Canadians who have hearing loss is rising, fast. And most of them cannot afford it.




  1. Very interesting! Maybe there’s another way to look at it, if you compare “life with HAs and other gadgets” against “life without them”. You may in fact save money because those devices mean you have to ask for fewer repeats, do less explaining, have less stress, do less (and more accurate) speechreading, etc. But I think you undercharged for the bad jokes!

  2. I’ve just completed a three year term as Chair of the Council for Persons with Disabilities in Peterborough -which is/was also the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. And while, as Tobias points out, it would have been impossible with hearing aids (and gee, I should be grateful for that ) the never-ending stress of asking individuals to speak a tad slower, louder, or repeat themselves was truly draining. It wasn’t that those (14 members) around the table didn’t know I had a hearing problem, they simply failed to remember how they, as individuals, needed to respond. Some, usually men with lower frequency voices, had little to change; others, particularly those with accents and soft voices would have to make considerable adjustments to voice volume, sit closer to the chair and so on.
    Subsequently I smiled and nodded far too often, hopping I had caught the gist of what was being said.
    Aside whatever the toll was on my leadership effectiveness, the PERSONAL COST of such experience is increasingly loss of self-confidence and (sadly) frustration with those with whom we work. …

  3. Let’s make aural rehabilitation a standard component of hearing health care is an excellent statement. At the Hearing Loss Rehab Institute we present a non-medical training called aural rehabilitation. It is what every audiologist should practice as a follow up with new patients. Getting use to a new hearing aid is no picnic. There is so much we do not understand why we still cannot understand some words and sounds.
    I agree that aural rehabilitation should be part of the health care plan.

  4. Seriously, what can we do about this? Mouths drop open when I tell people that insurance will not pay for anything for my moms hearing aids! Even our closest friends and family still dont get the stress of this and god forbid, they look at you when they are talking. This includes numerous doctors who could care less.

Leave a Reply