Free hearing tests and subsidised hearing aids

Optical giant Specsavers has announced it will move into the hearing space, offering subsidised hearing services through the Australian Government's Hearing Services Program. This announcement has prompted the question, how does one access subsidised hearing services in the first place?

The Hearing Services Program offers free hearing tests to Pension Concession Card Holders, Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card Holders and National Disability Insurance Scheme participants with hearing needs.

To access a free hearing test through the Hearing Services Program, you'll need to visit your usual doctor to get a referral. Once you've got a referral, you will need to book in for a hearing test with a provider registered under the Hearing Services Program. You can do this by calling the Hearing Services Program on 1800 500 726 or by searching the website www.hearingservices.gov.au

Once you have booked in with a registered provider, all you need to do is show up to you appointment with your referral. The provider will need to enter your referral details into their online system in order to provide the hearing test free of charge. You should not have to fill out any forms yourself.

Those who are assessed as needing hearing aids then have the option to get a subsidised pair, paid for in full by the Australian Government or a partially subsidised pair, paid for in part by the Australian Government with the rest paid by the client. The fully subsidised option is a more basic model of hearing aid, while the partially subsidised models include the optional bells and whistles.

For those who need hearing aids, ongoing maintenance and support is available for an annual fee, which includes unlimited battery replacement.

Hearing loss affects people of all ages, but is more common among older people so it is important to get tested if you are concerned. Some symptoms of hearing loss include being able to hear but not understand, finding it hard to hear in noisy situations or groups of people, you think people are mumbling, you need to turn the TV up louder than others, or you don't always hear the doorbell or phone.

Contact the Hearing Services Program on 1800 500 726 or go to www.hearingservices.gov.au/ for more information.