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. In 2014, they increased the funding allocation making hearing aids more affordable for clients.