Funding for Hearing Aids
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. Some people may be eligible for a hearing aid subsidy or third party funding. In general hearing aids purchased in the private sector can be classified as follows (costs are approximate only). Final prices will vary between clinics and obtaining a quote from at least one other clinic is advisable.
Basic Digital or Analogue:
Aids in this category generally perform well in quiet situations. These aids do not offer maximum assistance in group conversations, crowds, or meetings. These aids generally offer options such as manual volume, different listening programs for different sound environments, and telecoil compatibility in some models and use of a remote control to change volume and other features in some models.
Middle Range Digital:
These instruments offer a greater range of features than the basic models. Additional features include reduction of non-speech noise and directional microphones to reduce the interference background noise.
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. 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.
Children's Hearing Aids are FREE
Hearing aids fitted to children (up to 21 years old if they are in fulltime education) are funded at no cost to their families thru ACCESSABLE (the MOH accredited hearing aid services manager) funding scheme starting 1st of September 2011. Funding is available for both new and replacement hearing aids, as well as, for repairs and supply of batteries. Children are prioritized without any delay for fitting of hearing aids.
Individuals may be eligible for funding towards 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, some funding is provided towards 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 provide partial funding of hearing aids for adults aged 16 years or over with complex needs (for example hearing aid users since childhood, people with dual or multiple disabilities, sudden and severe hearing loss) and those adults with a community services card and who meet certain criteria (for example people studying, working or primary caregivers). Consult your MNZAS Audiologist for details of the eligibility criteria in your area. Alternatively, visit the Accessable NZ websites.
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 patient 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.
Ministry of Health 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 may be eligible for a Hearing Aid Subsidy. The subsidy is currently set at $511 per hearing aid and is available to individuals every 6 years.
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.
Other Funding Information
Some hospitals and private practices may allow patients to repay the cost of a hearing aid over time.
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.
Some finance companies will also provide funding for Hearing Aids.
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.
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.
Funding for Bone Anchored Hearing Aids
The MOH criteria for these aids can be downloaded here.
If you have Hearing Aids from ACC and require batteries, the form to request these is here.