Health+Benefits the April 2024 issue

We Hear You

Q&A with Rob Gibbs, Senior Vice President of Sales and Account Management, TruHearing
Sponsored by TruHearing Posted on April 1, 2024

Rob Gibbs discusses how bringing in a hearing benefit can help employers rise to those new expectations, bolster employee retention, and most importantly meet what he argues is a basic health need.

Q
What are the most important factors an employer and its benefits consultant should consider when creating a benefits package?
A

Social determinants of health, comorbidities, and disabilities present in their workforce. Every employer has different goals and objectives that relate to hiring, employee retention and budgets. All employers desire a healthy, productive workforce, so it’s important for employees to have access to the basics of affordable healthcare.

About half of all adults are at risk of falling into debt and would be unable to pay a $500 unexpected medical bill without borrowing money. Since the average retail cost for hearing aids is $4,600, they’re inaccessible to many.

Hearing care is a basic need, like vision, medical and dental, because it impacts communication, overall well-being and mental health, including anxiety, depression, social isolation and cognitive decline.

Q
Modern companies have to contend with addressing the needs of their younger workforce and a rapidly growing segment of aging workers. How can hearing benefits bring value to both groups?
A

Hearing loss is more common than you may realize. Among American adults, hearing loss is more prevalent than all types of cancer and heart disease and diabetes.

All working-age people, particularly those at the age of prime leadership positions, can be affected. In fact, the fastest-growing groups with hearing loss are 35-44 and 45-54 years old. Among those aged 55-64 and 65-74, hearing loss is already high.

Hearing benefits deliver value to employers and employees through higher productivity, better communication and collaboration, higher quality of life, better brain function, and better overall health.

Q
How can hearing benefits differentiate themselves from other benefits?
A

Regardless of the job, hearing loss impacts work productivity and safety. Clear communication, clear vision, healthy teeth, and disease-free bodies are all critical to performance.

Unlike other basic benefits, the cost of hearing coverage is significantly lower, which makes its value all that much greater. Hearing benefits start as low as $0.05 PMPM and can be configured to best meet client needs. In contrast, vision and dental benefits may be found at $6 and $20 respectively, on the low end.

Hearing care is a basic need, like vision, medical and dental, because it impacts communication, overall well-being and mental health, including anxiety, depression, social isolation and cognitive decline.
Rob Gibbs, Senior Vice President of Sales and Account Management, TruHearing
Q
How have employer goals changed since the pandemic? What place do benefits have in helping employers meet these new goals?
A

Since the pandemic, employers have focused on mental health and social isolation, wellness and whole-body health, customization/broader benefit offerings, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Mental health and social isolation. Hearing loss increases the likelihood of depression and social isolation. People with hearing loss refrain from participating in situations in which they have challenges to act and appear “normal.” However, 87% of wearers saw an improved quality of life thanks to hearing aids. Hearing aids lower the risk of depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness. And hearing aid users have lower medical expenses and higher earnings than those with untreated hearing loss.

Greater customization/broader offering of benefits. It’s increasingly difficult and costly to ensure hiring the “right” and “best” employees. While hearing may be perceived as a niche benefit, it applies to all ages of employees. In fact, Millennials are the fastest growing population in prevalence of hearing loss with a 37% increase from 2019 to 2022.

Diversity, equity and inclusion. Given that 40% of employees in the workforce report some form of hearing loss, offering hearing benefits is a way to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to people with hidden disabilities, which can be an overlooked focus in DEI efforts.

Q
How important is meeting benefits expectations to retaining employees? What kind of role can specialty benefits like hearing play?
A

Benefits play a meaningful role for employees and are a significant factor impacting their decision to be part of a company.

Specialty benefits, such as hearing, demonstrate the employer’s commitment to DEI, people with disabilities, and a growing need across the (young and old) employee population. At a low cost, they demonstrate a willingness to fill the gap in coverage that exists in the traditional employee benefits package.

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