Some 25-30 years ago, the Australian Government recognised the need to provide hearing services to their citizens who receive a government pension. In 1997 the government founded the Office of Hearing Services which was recently renamed to the Hearing Services Program. This program is designed so that every eligible Australian who is receiving a pension can access free hearing services.
Just a few weeks ago the government has handed down a new budget which is according to the treasurer the most important budget since world war II. This budget includes substantial support for businesses and individuals focusing on rebuilding the economy after it has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget also set aside some funds to advance hearing care in Australia. In line with this the Hearing Services Program has received an upgrade and some major changes will take effect in July 2021. But you do not have to wait until then – the Hearing Services Program in its current form is accessible for Australians who hold a blue Pensioner Concession Card. According to the government this card can be issued if you get an Age Pension, Carer’s Payment, Disability Support Pension, JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance. There are also options for people who receive the Parenting Payment, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance and Special Benefits.
It is a fantastic program under which you can get your hearing tested and receive hearing services free of charge. Even if you need hearing aids, they can be either fully or partially subsidised dependent on your choice. All this is run via a voucher system.
Getting your voucher is very easy: Make an appointment with your hearing care provider of choice. (We’d be happy to be yours)
Your hearing care provider can apply for the voucher for you electronically through the government website. Get your hearing tested– free of charge
Annual Hearing Tests.
Previously a pensioner who did not yet have hearing aids could get a hearing test free of charge only every 3 years. But a lot can happen and change within three years. With the changes which have recently been announced this has been changed to an annual review system. Pensioners can get their hearing checked once a year– free of charge under the program even if they do not have hearing aids. We have long been recommending that hearing tests should be part of the annual heath check as hearing loss is a very gradually progressing issue and frequent monitoring and early intervention is recommended. So we are glad to see this change take effect.
Changing of service providers.
Did you know that your eligibility moves with you and does not stay with a particular company? It is a common misconception that services can only be provided by the company that has initially provided the hearing aids. But that is not correct. You can freely choose which company you want to use. There are many companies from small to large and the choice is yours. If you move to a different city or suburb or are just not quite happy with your current situation and want some improvement – you don’t even need to state a reason. It is very easy – just go to the new provider of choice and they can do the little paperwork for you.