Get A Free Hearing Aid Device in Australia
The Australian Government is committed to making sure veterans and pensioners can access free hearing services and hearing aids. Hearing services providers such as Ace Audiology want to ensure that all people are able to enjoy their lives without being hampered by deafness.
People should be able to enjoy hearing every word, engaging in conversations, catching every joke, whether in person, in a noisy room or quiet area on the phone or in person
The Free Hearing Aid Program in Australia
Australia has one of the world’s best publicly funded programs offering hearing services for its citizens. The Federal Government’s Hearing Services Program provides funding for about 500,000 hearing aids to veterans and pensioners each year and that number continues to grow. Vouchers are provided to eligible recipients which allow free hearing aids and other services.
In July 2021, important changes to the service came into force, including making three-year vouchers valid for up to five years which is the maximum lifespan of a hearing aid. This reduces the burden on providers in reissuing vouchers. Other changes will be mentioned below.
A renewal of the program included initiatives which are funded by the Roadmap for Hearing Health and the Hearing Services Program Review.
What Are the Main Changes to the Free Hearing Aid Program?
Other changes to the Australian Government Hearing Services Program from July 2021 include:
- Standard maintenance claims for one year after a refitting are now disallowed.
- The Client Review service for unaided clients has been introduced.
- Relocated maintenance is now reduced to one quarter of annual standard maintenance plus the client co-payment.
- Monaural maintenance increased to half the amount of binaural maintenance.
The extension of the vouchers validity from three to five years was to reduce administration involved in the issuing of vouchers and to align with the five years expected minimum lifespan of a hearing device. The transition period is current until January 2022 to support hearing services to implement the changes and allow them to adjust.
Who Can Get A Free Hearing Aid In Australia?
Please note that a Seniors Health Card does not provide eligibility for the program. If you are a young adult aged 21 to 25 (inclusive) you can choose to receive services through either the Voucher Program (if you meet one of the eligibility criteria listed above) or through the CSO Program (details below). Voucher services are provided by a network of hearing services providers throughout Australia.
The Vouchers offered by the Government mean that if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident aged 21 or older and fulfil the following criteria you are eligible if you are a:
- Holder of a Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) gold card
- Holder of a DVA white card (hearing specific)
- Be receiving a Sickness Allowance from Centrelink
- Belong to the Australian Defence Forces
- Be referred by the Disability Employment Services
- Be a dependent of a person meeting one of the above categories
This program doesn’t just provide funding towards hearing aids but also pays for the associated Audiological consulting time, hearing aid maintenance costs and in some circumstances, assistive listening devices.
How Often Can I Get A Free Hearing Aid In Australia?
The Hearing Services Program provides eligible consumers in Australia with subsidised or free hearing aids every five years. The program does however have built-in flexibility to ensure patients can get a new hearing aid or device sooner if their circumstances change significantly or if there is a clinical need.
How do I Get a New Hearing Aid Sooner than Five Years?
While not all hearing compromised people can get new hearing aids before the five- year mark, if you are eligible, your Audiologist can make a case for you. They need to make sure the case is strong, otherwise, they may need to repay any Office of Hearing Services funding you received.
Most patients needing new hearing aid devices before five years obviously have a solid reason for a refit that can be applied to their situation. But the Office of Hearing Services needs to see the following three areas covered:
- What hearing, physical condition or communication needs have changed since the patient’s hearing aids were fitted last?
- What has caused the hearing aids to be inappropriate now, and what has been done to improve the performance of their current aids?
- What benefit will new hearing aid devices be more appropriate than the current hearing aids at meeting their needs?