Good hearing important for overall health and well-being

July 10, 2019

Medical benefits for employees include coverage for a hearing aid and fitting, while retired members may be eligible for grants to help pay for these expenses.

When was the last time you had your hearing checked? While many adults see their dentist and eye doctor as part of their regular preventive care, they often don’t think about having a hearing test.

Hearing loss affects all age groups and there are many causes, including illness, trauma, abnormal growths in the ear, and excessive noise. In fact, an estimated 15 percent of adults (37.5 million) ages 18 and over report some trouble hearing.

Why it’s important

Studies have shown that hearing loss affects overall health. For example, the ears play an important part in maintaining balance, so you’re more likely to fall if you don’t hear well. Decreased hearing can even be a sign of heart disease because hardening or narrowing of the arteries can restrict blood flow to the ear.

Your spiritual health can be affected as well. People with hearing loss often avoid social interactions, causing them to feel lonely, isolated, and depressed.

Get screened

In addition to protecting your ears from loud noises, adults should have a baseline hearing test. Your doctor can do this during your annual preventive exam, and refer you for additional testing if needed. If your test shows no hearing loss, you should be tested every 10 years up to age 50, and every three years after that.

When hearing loss is severe, your doctor may recommend a hearing aid. If you’re an employee with medical coverage* through the Board of Pensions, your benefits include coverage for a hearing aid and fitting, subject to a $2,500 maximum every three years. Regular plan provisions (deductibles and copayments) apply.

Retired members, their spouses, and surviving spouses may be eligible for a Retiree Medical Grant of up to $2,500 every three years, to help with the cost of hearing aids.

*Those enrolled in Triple-S or GeoBlue should consult their plan for information about covered and noncovered services.

Sources: Mayo Clinic and WebMD