May 23, 2016
By Peter Murdock
New York, NY – Hearing loss is no longer just your grandfather’s problem. Studies indicate that over the next 10 to 15 years, nearly one-third of the general population will actually be hearing impaired. Already, those below retirement age represent the majority of people suffering at least some degree of hearing loss. And that includes both men and women alike.
Ubiquitous electronic devices designed for entertainment — everything from iPods to home theaters with surround sound — are partly to blame, exposing kids to ever more harmful noises at much earlier ages. The damage is cumulative, so that by the time we reach our 40s, our eyesight isn’t the only sense that begins to falter.
Working — and even just living in the big city — only makes matters worse. Not surprisingly, members of noisy construction trades are particularly vulnerable to hearing loss. One recent study finds that a 20-year-old carpenter entering the industry who fails to avail him- or herself to proper noise protection gear, risks profound damage to his or her hearing. Left unprotected, that same 20-year-old apprentice carpenter could wind up with the hearing of a 55-year-old veteran after just five years on the job.
Hearing aids are better than they’ve ever been — but carry hefty price tags. The average cost of a digital processing device with noise canceling properties is about $2500. And the collective lifespans of these miraculous devices is finite — about five to six years. Most union benefit plans roughly offering $500 allowances every couple years, really aren’t effective ways of offsetting the out-of-pocket cost for a member.
GHS — General Hearing Services, a division of General Vision Services — is taking a different approach. By utilizing the EPIC network of some 6,000 providers nationwide, the company is able to offer members significant discounts (up to 60 percent) on cutting-edge hearing devices. Together, with greater allowances occurring less often, GHS is offering the New York labor market a new product model capable of greatly relieving hearing aid sticker shock — and in some cases, even providing members with a “paid-in-full benefit.”
“Generally, when somebody doesn’t have access to a network, providers are trying to up-sell the clients to the most expensive products — so that whatever benefits are being provided through the funds, really aren’t able to minimize their out of pocket expense,” Sales & Marketing Director Mike Reha says.
GHS even offers members a three-year-warranty on hearing devices, as well as a one-year supply of batteries.
One union official explains his group’s experience with GHS this way: “The hearing program is valuable since our membership is exposed to loud noises on the streets each day. We promote the hearing program to encourage our members to get their ears checked regularly in the event of hearing loss. We made a smart decision recently to implement this program with GHS to educate and promote this service onto our membership. Healthy members are productive, happy members.”
GHS wants members to think about hearing the same way they do about their eyesight and their teeth. Both demand constant vigilance and attention — and so should our hearing.
“The reason you do this is to prevent further issues down the road,” GHS’ Tony Rosario explains. “We’re creating more awareness so that more people don’t become early candidates for hearing loss.
Together with GVS — General Vision Services — GHS is the only company now out there combining vision and health benefits is a single holistic plan that stresses health & well-being, in addition to comprehensive cost savings.
The approach, Rosario says, is a “no-brainer” that more unions are eagerly embracing.
Click here for more information about GHS’ health & wellness program.