Government Subsidies for Hearing Aids
The Office of Hearing Services, a subset of the federal Department of Health, provides eligible people with access to hearing services. This includes many services such as full audiological assessment of your hearing by a qualified clinician, access to a range of quality fully subsidised hearing aids and support in using and managing your hearing aids.
Who is eligible to get government assistance for hearing aids?
The provides access to hearing services depending on certain eligibility criteria. This is divided into a number of client groups such as older Australians, those under 26 years of age, veterans, Australian Defence Force and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
For older Australians, you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident ages over 26 years of age and meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Hold a Pensioner Concession card
- Receive a Sickness Allowance from Centrelink
- A dependent of a person in one of the above categories
- Undergoing disability management service funded by the Australian Government and have been referred by a disability employment services case manager
As a veteran, you are eligible for access to services to assist in managing hearing loss if you are a Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) client and hold of the following:
- DVA Gold Card issued for all conditions
- DVA White Card issued for conditions that includes hearing loss
- DVA Pensioner Concession Card
You are also eligible if you are a spouse or dependent of a DVA card holder.
Once you determine whether you are eligible, you then must apply for a voucher (which can be used to redeem subsidised hearing services. This can be online and, in many cases, an application only takes a few minutes. You will then be sent a welcome pack to the program.
If you are unable to apply online, you can call Hearing Choices on 1300 848 335 and one of our hearing consultants will be able to assist you with the application.
Please note that it may take 3-4 weeks to process paper applications.
Prior to visiting a hearing services centre, you will need to visit you GP or medical practitioner for a medical certificate. This is as your medical practitioner will need to confirm that, in the event that you may require hearing aids, there are no medical reasons impacting this.
Following confirmation that you are eligible and receipt of your Voucher, you may choose a hearing service provider to have your hearing assessed. Hearing Choices works with a number of clinics around Australia who partake in the OHS program and can provide subsidised services under the OHS program.
What does the Government Hearing Aid Voucher Entitle me To?
The Voucher covers a comprehensive hearing assessment and can either fully or partially subsidise your hearing aids. If your hearing service provider recommends hearing aids, you can choose to have a fully or partially subsidised hearing aid through the Voucher. The fully subsidised hearing aids are provided at no cost to you and will be set up by the clinician.
Can I get Free Hearing Aids From the Government?
There are a number of devices that are fully subsided and free under the OHS voucher program. These devices have a certain standard as they must meet the technical and performance requirements made compulsory by the program
On the other hand, you may choose to purchase partially subsidised hearing aids.
These devices have more advanced technology and features to better suit different lifestyles such as Rechargeable batteries, noise cancellation and Bluetooth or wireless streaming.
The hearing aids provided under the free to Client program don’t have all the latest features and are generally at least two generation’s behind the current range of private client hearing aids. Further, there are no RIC (Receiver In the Canal) devices under the free to client range which are incredibly popular and now account for over 85% of sales in the private market.
The advantage of the RIC device over the free to client models is that they are incredible small and discreet.
If you choose to purchase partially subsidised devices, the Voucher can be used to contribute the amount that would have been used for fully subsidised hearing aids to the service provider, and you will need to pay the additional amount quoted for the hearing device.
It is important to note that the Voucher is valid for five years. This means that you have three years to use the Voucher and, if you have reached the value of services covered by the Voucher, you will have to wait five years in order to reapply.
How much assistance does the Government give towards hearing aids?
The Voucher covers up to $1200 in services. For a small annual fee, you may choose to purchase a battery and insurance package through your hearing service provider.
NDIS and Hearing Aids
If you are under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and hearing loss is identified in your plan, your National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Planner may refer you to the Hearing Program. Similar to the Voucher program, it is administered through the Department of Health. Dependent on your eligibility criteria, you have access to hearing services either through a Voucher or through Community Service Obligations (CSO).
If you are an existing client of the Hearing Services Program, you need to inform your NDIA planner that you are already part of the program. If you have a valid Voucher, you will continue to receive services under this existing Voucher with your hearing service provider. If you are new to the Hearing Services Program and a participant in NDIS, your planner will complete the NDIS application form along with a medical certificate so medical clearance of hearing aid fitting.