Funding for Hearing Aids
$500 government subsidy for each ear ($1000.00 for both ears), this subsidy is available to all adults and accessed by your audiologist.
Modern hearing aids are sophisticated electronic devices that, when fitted by a qualified Audiologist, can assist with many of the hearing needs caused by hearing loss.
There are over 300 types and models of hearing aids available in New Zealand. Your MNZAS Audiologist will have access to a range of choices and will provide the best advice as to what style of hearing aid best suits your hearing needs and budget.
Your MNZAS Audiologist is an approved service provider and can access funding through the ACC, Environment Support Services, Government Subsidies, Work and Income NZ and War Pensions to help fund the cost of your hearing aids.
Costs of Hearing Aids
The cost of purchasing a hearing aid or aids depends on a variety of factors including:
- The degree and type of hearing loss
- The complexities of the listening environment in which hearing aids will be used.
- The wearers personal cosmetic preferences.
- The need for one or two hearing aids
Hearing aid costs have also been affected by developments in technology over the last decade. In general hearing aids can be classified according to cost as follows:
This category of hearing aids are ideal for many situations particularly within the home. Aids in this category generally perform well in quiet or low background noise situations. These aids offer assistance in group conversations, crowds, or meetings and are ideal for television, hearing around the home and small groups. These aids generally offer options including directional microphones, manual volume, automatic volume control, listening programs for different sound environments, and telecoil compatibility in some models. .
Secondary Range Digital:
These instruments offer a greater range of features than the primary models. Additional features include noise cancelling, adaptive microphones reducing interference of background noise, wind noise reduction,high frequency extendibility and feedback control.
In addition to the above features advanced hearing aids use the latest technology and are better able to cope with changes in the listening environment.Also may include wireless interface with TV or mobile phone,music appreciation and effective localisation This results in better speech understanding in a greater range of situations including the presence of background noise. Many user options are available that make them easy to use, and some aids within this category are adjustable via a remote control. They also provide your Audiologist with the greatest flexibility to optimize the devices for your hearing.
At private clinics, the hearing aids are free but parents will pay a fitting fee which covers all consultations, programming, education and management of the hearing aids.
Individuals may be eligible for funding of hearing aids through the ACC scheme if their hearing loss is the result of prolonged occupational noise exposure or a sudden trauma that has damaged hearing. Funding is available if occupational noise exposure occurred before the introduction of the ACC scheme in 1972. However, funding is not typically available if a sudden trauma occurred prior to 1972 that caused hearing loss.
Assessment for ACC eligibility begins with a hearing test. Noise exposure produces a pattern of hearing loss that a qualified Audiologist is trained to identify. The Audiologist will then recommend to the patient that an ACC claim be initiated. An ACC claim must be lodged through a General Practitioner or other Registered Medical Specialist. After lodging a claim, a patient must be examined by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon, who is the only person able to make a specific diagnosis of noise-induced hearing loss.
If an ACC claim is approved, the cost of appropriately fitted hearing aids is met by the ACC scheme. Lump sum compensation payments are not available. If an individual believes they may have a hearing loss associated with noise exposure they are encouraged to act now, even if they do not feel they need a hearing aid. If left too late (after retirement, for example) then it may be difficult to prove that the hearing loss was caused by noise exposure alone, rather than a natural deterioration over time with age.
Visit the ACC Website for additional information on the ACC claims process.
Environmental Support Services
Accessable NZ (serves the area with a phone number starting with an 09) and Enable NZ (south of Auckland and the South Island ie. phone numbers starting with anything other than an 09 prefix) provide partial funding of hearing aids for people who are in full-time study, employment, or who are unemployed but registered as seeking work. Funding may also be available to allow people to remain independent within their own homes. The eligibility criteria for funding varies by health region. For example, some health regions provide hearing aid funds for individuals who are primary caregivers of young children; other health regions may not. Consult your MNZAS Audiologist for details of the eligibility criteria in your area. Alternatively, visit the Enable NZ or Accessable NZ Website.
War Pensions Scheme
Individuals exposed to noise through high-powered rifle or artillery fire and who served in the armed services may be eligible for funding of a hearing aid or aids. Eligibility depends on a number of factors, including whether the person receives a War Pension, and the degree of any assessed disability. Individuals who believe they may be eligible for a hearing aid through the War Pension system should approach their MNZAS Audiologist or Work and Income New Zealand (who are responsible for the administration of War Pensions). If approved patients are referred to an MNZAS Audiologist for assessment and fitting of hearing aids.
Visit the WINZ Website for further information about eligibility for financial assistance.
Universal Hearing Aid Subsidy
All adult patients who purchase a hearing aid and do not receive funding through the ACC, Environment Support Services or War Pensions are eligible for a Universal Hearing Aid Subsidy. The subsidy is currently set at $198 per hearing aid and is available to individuals every 5 years. The subsidy is applied to each hearing aid purchased and so a total subsidy of $396 is applied to the purchase of two hearing aids. This is separate to the gold card subsidy.
Work and Income New Zealand
Anyone who receives a benefit from Work and Income NZ can apply for a loan of up to $1000 to help with the purchase of hearing aids. The loan is deducted gradually from future benefit payments.
For those who cannot afford a new hearing aid, public hospitals and private practices may have available donated secondhand hearing aids that can be loaned to patients on a temporary and sometimes permanent basis. These aids are generally a compromise and may not provide the patient with the desired benefit.
New Zealand Audiological Society Hearing Aid Bank
For people in extreme financial difficulty who cannot obtain assistance from any other government agencies, the NZ Audiological Society may be able to help. The NZAS has a small number of hearing aids kindly donated by various hearing aid companies. This hearing aid bank also has a limited amount of money available to help those in severe need. If you feel you meet this criteria and need help to buy a hearing aid contact your NZAS audiologist for further information and the appropriate application form.
Public and Private Audiology Services Audiologists fit and dispense hearing aids in both the public and private sectors. Audiologists in the public and private sectors have access to the same range of hearing aids.
The majority of hearing aid services for adults are provided through the private sector. You do not usually need a referral to access these services, and can arrange an assessment by calling your local MNZAS audiologist directly. Individuals who choose to have their hearing aids fitted through an Audiologist in the private sector may avoid lengthy hospital waiting lists. Private sector hearing aid provision includes a charge for the cost of fitting the hearing aid as well as the cost of the hearing aid itself. There is currently no public hearing aid clinic at Christchurch Hospital.
Hospital Audiology departments that provide adult hearing services will usually only provide hearing aid services following referral from a health or educational specialist. There may be a waiting list, the length of which will vary depending on the hospital. Public hospital Audiology departments charge for hearing aids on a "cost recovery" basis. Patients pay for the hearing aids, but usually will not pay for the full cost of the hearing aid fitting and follow-up appointments.
Contact your local fully qualified MNZAS Audiologist for the best hearing aid services and all funding options.