ACC hearing aid changes

More funding, More choice

In July 2014, ACC announced changes to the way they will fund hearing aids and hearing services for ACC claimants with noise induced hearing loss. These ACC hearing loss changes allow increased funding towards the initial hearing aid purchase as well as better support (in terms of repairs and maintenance).

ACC covers the cost of accidents in New Zealand

ACC provides “comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand. This means you can apply for our help, no matter how you got injured, or whose fault it was” – ACC website – May 2014

ACC has been covering the cost of hearing habilitation for people who have hearing loss due to workplace noise or other accidents since the scheme began in 1974.  Until 2011, ACC covered all costs associated with noise induced hearing loss. The system was changed and have contributed a smaller amount towards hearing devices and services, since then. In July 2014, ACC again reviewed their funding and here we outline the changes to the ACC hearing loss regulations and how it will help those with hearing loss due to noise or accident.

What’s new?

  • A second opinion – ACC will fund a consultation with another clinic before trialling your hearing aids

  • Increased ACC hearing aid payments

  • A new flat fitting fee

  • New funding for ear moulds

  • Introduction of multiple repairs

  • Better access to services for children.

ACC Hearing Loss Changes

More choice

Second device consultation – ACC will cover the cost of a second appointment with another hearing clinic or Audiologist to assess your needs and the best solution for you.  This means that if you are not comfortable with your first recommendation for any reason, ie price you have the flexibility to seek other options.

Better follow up

ACC will cover the cost of more repairs up the the maximum of $234.09 for each aid within a 2 year period.

Ear moulds – ACC will contribute to the cost of new ear moulds, if they are needed, over the course of the hearing aid life time (must be more than 1 year after the aids were first fitted.)

More funding

More funding also gives you more options as you will have a greater range of hearing aids to choose from.

  • Increased payments for hearing aids means there are now hearing aids that can be fitted at no extra cost to the ACC claimant “Free”. Or the top up amount will be a lot lower than with the previous funding criteria and giving the option of more sophisticated hearing aids.

  • ACC have set a minimum fitting fee – this means that even if only a small portion of your hearing loss is attributed to noise (or accident) your fitting fee is covered by ACC.

History of ACC and Hearing support

Prior to January 2011 ACC covered the full cost of hearing aids and accessories, batteries, repairs, as well as annual hearing assessments and hearing aid adjustments.  This meant that ACC claimants got first class service.  ACC claimants had the ability to use hearing aids that met their needs as well as exceptional follow up and maintenance all covered by ACC.

Unfortunately as the ACC claimants increased in numbers.  Due to better technology and more hearing loss among tradesmen (who had historically not protected their hearing), the cost became too great for ACC to maintain.

In early 2011 the ACC hearing loss policy was changed in a number of ways including:

  • Increasing the level of hearing loss required to meet ACC funding criteria – to 6% hearing loss

  • Reducing the funding towards hearing aids

  • Reducing hearing related services like regular hearing assessment and hearing aids adjustment

  • Reducing what ACC would contribute to ongoing repairs and maintenance.

This resulted in a significant saving for ACC. ACC expenditure on hearing devices and services fell from $59 million per annum in 2010 to $16 million per annum in 2013.
It also resulted in many ACC claimants being unable to afford the hearing aids that would best meet their needs.  Some previous hearing aids wearers had to either go without hearing aids or get very basic hearing aids, increasing the effect of their hearing disability and  their ability to function in their normal listening environment.
“The Ministry and ACC are concerned that people are not accessing the services and devices available to help them manage their hearing loss. People who suffer from injury-related hearing loss must be able to access the hearing services and devices they are entitled to in order for them to fully participate in employment, education, their community, and enjoy an improved quality of life. Hearing loss often leads to social isolation and depression.
The Ministry’s and ACC’s main objective is that services must be affordable and easy to access. In this case, more people need to be accessing the hearing loss services and devices they are entitled to so that people suffering from injury-related hearing loss can fully participate in society. Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) – prepared by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (the Ministry).
The new ACC hearing aid changes are worth celebrating as it will allow more people to get the hearing care they need.

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What do these changes mean to me?

I am a current ACC claimant and hearing aid wearer

ACC have increased their on going support of hearing aid wearers by:

  • Contributing more to repair costs of your ACC hearing aids

  • Contributing to the cost of new ear moulds, if required

  • Continuing to supply batteries free of charge

You will still need to contribute to the cost of your:

  • Annual hearing review and hearing aid adjustment ($85)

  • New ear moulds

  • Repairs – if they are over the over $234.09 per aid over 2 years.

I am a current ACC hearing aid claimant and I need new hearing aids

A new ACC hearing aid funding claim ACC will be considered after 6 years. The level of cover will be determined by the amount of your hearing loss that is attributed to workplace noise or an accident.  If you are still working in noise you may be required to see and ear nose and throat specialist (ENT / ORL) to determine any further hearing loss due to noise.

If you are accepted for new ACC hearing aid funding and your hearing aids are finalised after the 1st of July 2014 you will get the new higher funding allocation that includes:

  • The new flat fitting fee

  • Increased funding for hearing devices

  • ACC will continue to pay for hearing aid batteries

  • (Under the new ACC system) Some hearing aids are available at no added cost to you. If you would like higher level hearing aids you will need to contribute to the cost.

I have worked in a noisy environments and would like to apply for ACC funding.

Applying for ACC funding:

  1. Visit your GP and ask if they could fill in a ACC claim form (ACC45) for hearing loss.
  2. ACC will send you some forms about your hearing loss and work history to fill out and return within 14 days.
  3. ACC will ask you to go to an Audiologist for a full hearing assessment.
  4. ACC may ask you to see an ear, nose and throat specialist who will assess the cause of you hearing loss and the amount of contribution they believe is due to noise or accident.
  5. Once your claim has been accepted you will come for a device consultation by your Audiologist, who will give their recommendations for the right hearing devices for you.
  6. You may choose to have another assessment and consultation by another Audiologist and get a second opinion.  ACC will cover the cost of this.
  7. Once you have decided on the right solution for you the hearing aids will be ordered and the fitting process can begin.
  8. More details here

The steps to funding for new ACC hearing aids by a current claimant

  1. A hearing reassessment by your Audiologist is sent to ACC.
  2. ACC will ask you to go for a consultation with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT or ORL) who will decide how much of your hearing loss is likely to be due to noise or accident.
  3.  You will come to your audiologist for a device consultation, who will give their recommendations for the best hearing devices for you.
  4. You may choose to have another assessment and consultation by another Audiologist and get a second opinion.  ACC will cover the cost of this.
  5. Once you have decided on right the solution for you, the hearing aids will be ordered and the fitting process can begin.

More about the process of getting hearing aids

Would you like to discuss your hearing aid options? If you would like to organise a free hearing aid consultation, please call 09 525 0522 or email info@aucklandhearing.co.nz.

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