Guide to Getting Hearing Aids: Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme
If you have a hearing loss, hearing aids may be part of the solution to improve your hearing. You may be able to get some help from the Ministry of Health towards the cost of buying hearing aids.
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This booklet gives you information about the Ministry of Health’s Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme, the benefits of hearing aids and what you can expect from audiology services.
Will the Ministry of Health help me pay for hearing aids?
The Ministry of Health has two types of funding available for hearing aids: the Hearing Aid Funding Scheme and the Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme. Depending on your circumstances and type of hearing loss, you may be able to get help from one of these schemes.
This booklet tells you about the Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme. You can find out about the Hearing Aid Funding Scheme in the Ministry of Health booklet Guide to Getting Hearing Aids: Hearing Aid Funding Scheme. If you want to find out who is able to get each type of funding, ask an audiologist or go to Equipment for adults who are deaf or have hearing loss. Both booklets can also be found on Accessable’s website.
The Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme
The Ministry of Health’s Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme provides $511.11 (including GST) per hearing aid to adults (over the age of 16) who have a permanent hearing loss and need a hearing aid, are New Zealand citizens living in New Zealand or permanent residents who are not covered under the Hearing Aid Funding Scheme.
You may be able to get help towards the cost of hearing aids from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) or Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand. If you can get help from either of these organisations you cannot also get support from the Ministry of Health’s Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme.
The subsidy for each hearing aid is available no more than once every six years.
The Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme does not cover any additional costs for hearing assessments or hearing aid fitting services which audiologists may charge.
Only audiologists who are full members of the New Zealand Audiological Society can access the Hearing Aid Subsidy Scheme for their clients. Check that your audiologist is a member of the Society. If they are not a full member, you will not be able to get the subsidy from the Ministry of Health.
Other hearing services
Other services can help you manage your hearing loss. You will find more information in the booklet: Are you deaf or do you find it difficult to hear? (for adults over 16 years).
What can I expect from audiology services?
An audiologist will assess your hearing to work out what is the best solution for improving your hearing. If hearing aids are part of this solution, the audiologist will guide you through the process of getting them. This flowchart shows what you can expect.
An audiologist will assess your hearing and your hearing needs.
As a result of these assessments your audiologist may recommend hearing aids as part of the solution for improving your hearing.
If hearing aids are not recommended or you decide not to have them, you could see a hearing therapist for free advice on how to manage your hearing loss. Phone 0800 008 011 or visit the Life Unlimited website.
3. Selection of Hearing Aids
Your audiologist will advise you on the types of hearing aids that would best meet your hearing needs and budget. They will also give you a written quote of the costs you may expect to pay for the hearing aids and the audiology services involved in getting them.
Always take care of hearing aids both when you are trying them out and when you have made the decision to buy them.
Your audiologist will fit and programme the hearing aids for you and show you how to use and take care of them.
Your audiologist will give you time to try the hearing aids to see if they work for you. Let your audiologist know if you have any problems as they can adjust the hearing aids. You will probably need more than one appointment to get the aids going just right for you.
If the hearing aids still do not work for you, you can return them during the standard trial period and try a different model.
The standard trial period is six to eight weeks.
You may need to pay for the hearing aids when you take them away for trial. But you can get most of this money back if you decide not to get any hearing aids after all.
6. Final Decision
After trying hearing aids, you will need to decide with your audiologist if the hearing aids are meeting your needs. If you want to go ahead with them, your audiologist will apply for the Ministry of Health’s Hearing Aid Subsidy to help pay for them.
Frequently asked questions
1. How much will I need to pay for my hearing aids?
There is a wide range of prices and brands of hearing aids – from basic and mid-range through to advanced models. Each model has different features and benefits. Your audiologist will recommend the most appropriate hearing aid to suit your hearing needs and budget.
The price of a hearing aid can range from less than $1,200 (including GST) to more than $3,000 for more advanced models. These prices are for the actual hearing aid and do not include any service fees that you may be charged.
2. If I need hearing aids, what kind of audiology service will I receive?
Many clinics offer extended follow-up appointments as part of their package for fitting and providing hearing aids. Your audiologist will let you know how many appointments you may need and the cost, if any, for extra appointments.
The satisfaction that you can get from hearing aids depends not only on the hearing aids you select but also on the service you get from an audiologist. Your audiologist will advise you on all costs and will give you a written quote that explains all the services and fees involved. Some district health board clinics charge a fee but the overall fees will be much lower than those charged in private clinics.
3. How long is the hearing aid trial for?
Most clinics offer a trial of six to eight weeks; a trial of two to three weeks is also common. You need a trial period because your brain will need time to adjust to new sounds. If you are not satisfied with the hearing aids during the trial period, tell your audiologist so that they can adjust the hearing aids further or arrange for you to try different hearing aids. You will get a refund on some or all of the costs you have paid if you decide not to go ahead with the hearing aids after all.
4. How many hearing aids will I need?
Most people with hearing loss have reduced hearing in both ears. After your audiologist has done their assessment, you can discuss whether one or two hearing aids would be better for you. If your hearing loss affects both ears, you will normally get better results with two hearing aids.
5. Will all prices be the same from one clinic to another?
Prices for hearing aids and audiology services may vary. You may want to compare prices but be sure to check that you are comparing exactly the same model of hearing aid and/or the same services. There may also be costs for a second opinion or to get a quote from a different audiologist. A new audiologist may want to carry out a hearing assessment to be sure they are giving you the best information about your hearing needs. If you choose to change your audiology clinic, you can ask for your records to be forwarded to the new clinic.
What costs might I have to pay?
Private audiology practices charge for their services. You will need to pay for the hearing aids (less the hearing aid subsidy), assessment and fitting services, hearing aid batteries and repairs.
Audiologists working in district health board clinics don’t charge for assessments. You will need to pay for hearing aids (less the Hearing Aid Subsidy), hearing aid batteries, repairs and, in some cases, a separate fitting fee.
Ask your audiologist to provide you with a written quote listing the services they include and their refund and repairs policy (if any). See an example of a quote below.
What you will need to pay:
+ Assessment/service fees (if any)
+ Price of the hearing aid
– Hearing Aid Subsidy
= Balance you pay
What type of hearing aid might I get?
Hearing aids come in a range of styles to suit different hearing needs and your personal choice. Your audiologist will explain the benefits and things to consider when choosing a hearing aid.
1. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids:
- sit behind the ear with a sound tube going into the ear
- are available in a range of sizes, styles and colours
- suit most levels of hearing loss
- are usually larger and easier to physically manage than in-the-ear models.
2. In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids:
- fit completely in the ear
- are available in a range of sizes and styles
- smaller models may not be suitable for people with significant hearing loss
- may be prone to damage from moisture or ear wax
- are generally smaller and more fragile and can be more difficult to physically manage than behind-the-ear models.
Other features (accessories)
Some hearing aids have extra features to help you use your telephone, mobile phone and TV and can connect to other listening devices in halls, churches and theatres. Hearing aids may also have optional remote control units so that you can more easily adjust them yourself. Your audiologist will tell you which extra features, if any, might help you with your hearing problem.
Hearing aids are carefully selected by audiologists to meet your hearing needs. They are highly technical devices that require expert fitting and follow-up. Cheaper hearing aids may not be the best aids for you.
Warranty and repairs
It is normal for hearing aids to need servicing from time to time. They are sensitive electronic devices that require regular care and maintenance.
Manufacturers offer at least a 12-month warranty against any faulty parts. If the manufacturer’s warranty does not cover the repair, you will need to pay for repair costs yourself.
The warranty does not cover damage caused by moisture, wax or mistreatment, so it is important that you look after the hearing aid and keep it clean. Your audiologist will explain how to do this and can also arrange for any repairs to be done for you. It’s a good idea to discuss how much the repairs might cost before you agree to them.
Certain styles of hearing aids are less likely to need repairs. Discuss this with your audiologist when you are deciding which style to choose.
To make sure you can get a full warranty and support for the hearing aids, and they are safe to use, the model you select must be on the Ministry of Health’s Approved Hearing Aid List.
It’s a good idea to insure your hearing aids. Most home contents insurance will cover hearing aids but you may need to tell your insurer that you have bought them. Look after them as, if something happens to them, you cannot get another Ministry of Health subsidy to help you replace your hearing aids for six years after you have had a Hearing Aid Subsidy.
The life of the batteries in your hearing aids varies according to the model of hearing aid you get and how you use your hearing aids. You will need to buy hearing aid batteries yourself. Some hearing aid batteries are rechargeable.
The cost for batteries can vary so it’s a good idea to check the size and cost of batteries before you decide on a specific model of hearing aid. Cheap batteries may not work as well as more expensive types and there is a risk that they can leak inside the hearing aid. Your audiologist can tell you the price of the batteries for the model you are thinking about getting.
The Hearing Aid Subsidy can only be used for new hearing aids purchased and fitted in New Zealand through an audiologist who is a member of the New Zealand Audiological Society.
An overview of the differences between types of hearing aids
Basic hearing aid features ($1200 or less)
- suits people who usually talk to one or two people at a time (for example, at home or in a quiet setting)
- suits people who have a quiet lifestyle
- may not be suitable for all types of hearing loss
- may not be as helpful as higher-range models in demanding or complex listening situations
Mid-range hearing aid features ($1200–$3000)
- suits people who are active and encounter difficult listening conditions more often (for example, in small groups or where there is a low level of background noise, such as in a church)
- may not provide benefits in all listening environments
High range hearing aid features ($3000 and more)
- suits people who have specific or complex hearing needs or who need to hear very well in challenging listening situations (for example, interacting with large groups where there is regular or disruptive background noise)
- is a more expensive option
- could provide more features than are needed.
Sample quote form
Your audiologist will give you a quote of the costs and services you may expect from them. The quote should include the information covered in the sample form below.
|Brand||Model||Price||No.||Total (incl. GST)|
|Hearing aid/s:||1 / 2|
|Services included in fitting fee:|
|Hearing Aid Subsidy||$511.11||1 / 2|
|Total Cost to Client:|
|Price / Pack:|
|Standard repair charges for brand attached.|
For more information
For more information about hearing aid funding, contact the Ministry of Health’s Hearing Aid Services Manager:
Freephone 0508 001 002
Phone 09 620 1700
Fax 09 620 1702