Consumer guidance factsheet
This factsheet supports clients to make informed choices about their hearing care and the hearing services available to them through the program.
Achieving your hearing outcomes
Establishing an effective relationship with your chosen hearing service provider is an essential part of making sure you receive the right level of care as a client of the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (the program). You should feel confident at the end of your appointment that the services and support discussed are the right ones to help you manage your hearing loss. Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your hearing appointments.
Hearing service providers under the program are contracted by the Office of Hearing Services (the Office), on behalf of the Australian Government, to provide services and supports to eligible clients of the program.
Before your appointment
- Discuss your hearing concerns with your doctor to ensure your hearing is not affected by a treatable medical condition.
- Obtain a medical certificate from your doctor if your hearing concern is not medically treatable. Take this to your first hearing appointment.
- Contact a hearing service provider to arrange an appointment.
- Ask for assistance such as an interpreter (if required).
- Ask someone to attend the appointment with you as two heads are often better than one. The experiences of those closest to you in relation to your hearing loss may be important.
- Prepare a summary of your hearing concerns and any questions.
During your appointment
- The hearing service provider can apply for the program on your behalf – prior to providing any services.
- You can expect to be asked for comprehensive details about your lifestyle including the situations when hearing is difficult for you or frustrating for those close to you.
- You can expect to undergo initial tests such as a hearing assessment.
- You should be given time to ask questions regarding specific services such as what services can I expect to receive under the program? Will I have any out-of-pocket costs under the program?
As a program client, if the results of your assessment indicate that a hearing device would be of assistance to you, your hearing service provider must offer you a fully subsidised hearing device to manage your hearing loss. The fully subsidised devices meet performance and technical requirements prescribed by the program, which are designed to appropriately manage most hearing loss.
You may also be offered a partially subsidised hearing device that contains additional features beyond those generally required to help you manage your hearing loss. You are under no obligation to purchase a partially subsidised hearing device - it is a personal choice, and can be quite costly.
You should be aware that your hearing service provider may receive commissions for selling certain hearing devices and some providers set sales targets for clinicians. Commissions and preferred supplier arrangements must be disclosed to you, as they may influence the price, type and brand of hearing aid being recommended to you. Here are some example questions you may wish to ask your hearing service provider about hearing devices.
- Do I really need a hearing device?
- Why will the partially subsidised hearing devices suit my needs better?
- Can I trial the fully subsidised device?
- Can I trial the partially subsidised device before committing to buy it?
- What happens if the hearing device doesn’t assist as much as I expected?
- What is the manufacturer’s warranty period for the hearing device?1
- Will I receive detailed information about ongoing maintenance for my hearing device and how much will that cost after the warranty period?
1 We encourage you to ask your hearing service provider to list what the extended warranty includes over and above the automatic consumer guarantees. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website has further information about consumer guarantees and extended warranties which may assist you. Remember, you can get a second opinion and/or quote from another hearing service provider.
At the end of your consultation
- You should be given the opportunity to clarify anything you do not understand.
- You should be given a written statement detailing your hearing loss along with copies of any test results and recommended ongoing management.
- You should be given a copy of the document explaining fully and partially subsidised hearing devices. This document will also detail the device you have chosen, as well as any out of pocket costs that may be associated with this. You will be asked to sign this document.
- If you need services and supports that are not available under the program, you should expect to receive support as to what hearing management plan suits your needs better. Alternatively, you should receive a written quote for any out-of-pocket expenses along with reasons why you need a particular device.
- Take your time to make any decisions – it is ok to say no. You should never feel pressured or rushed into making a decision – especially a financial decision.
After your appointment
- You should make a follow-up appointment to ask further questions.
- If you are not comfortable with the information and hearing management plan, you may wish to seek a second opinion from another hearing service provider.
- If you are not satisfied with the service and supports you are receiving from your hearing service provider, please contact the Office by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1800 500 726 or (National Relay Service) 1800 555 660.