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
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.
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).
What changed in 2014?
- A second opinion – ACC will fund a consultation with another clinic before trialling your hearing aids
- Increased ACC hearing aid payments
- A flat fitting fee
- Partial funding for ear moulds
- Introduction of multiple repairs
- Better access to services for children
ACC Hearing Loss Changes
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, for example – the price, you have the flexibility to seek other options.
Increased funding 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 hearing aids that can be fitted at no extra cost to the ACC claimant “Free” at each funding level.
- ACC 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 hearing aid fitting fee is covered by ACC.
Better follow up
ACC will cover the cost of more repairs up to the maximum of $234.09 for each aid within a two year period, once the warranty has expired.
Ear moulds – ACC will contribute to the cost of new ear moulds, if they are needed, throughout the hearing aid lifetime.
History of ACC and Hearing support
Before 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 could get hearing aids that met their needs as well as excellent 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 people who work in noise (who had historically not protected their hearing), the cost became too high 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.
These changes 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 environments.
“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).