Budget Increase for Hearing Aids Falls Short
Friday 23 May 2008
Budget Increase for Hearing Aids Falls Short for Deaf Ears
While the National Foundation for the Deaf applauds the Government announcement to more than double hearing aid subsidies for senior citizens, the move still falls short of making them affordable for many New Zealanders.
The boost, effective from October 1 (GST inclusive) will mean the current subsidy of $198 per hearing aid will increase to $500 for New Zealanders aged over 65 with a SuperGold Card.
The Budget 2008 contains $18 million over four years to fund the subsidy increase.
As most people need a set of two hearing aids, the $1000 subsidy will go towards making some difference, but only for the very basic models and it will not cover the associated costs such as consultation fees, said Marianne Schumacher, executive manager of the National Foundation for the Deaf.
A basic set of two hearing aids can cost between $1200 and $2000 and a more advanced model using latest technology can cost from $5000 to $7000 for a set.
“We recognise this is a positive move toward making hearing aids more accessible to our elderly population and it is the most significant increase in hearing funding that we’ve seen in many years, but unfortunately this worthy contribution will still fall short from the reality of hearing aid costs these days,” said Ms Schumacher.
This budget allocation targets a section of the population which currently has the least access to hearing aids, said Ms Schumacher.
“It is an encouraging sign that the Government sees hearing health as a concern and is willing to make steps towards making it more accessible for some of the 450,000 New Zealanders who have hearing impairments,” she said.
Other than recoverable loans from Work and Income New Zealand, the over-65 group who don’t have a history of work or injury related hearing loss have to rely on the subsidy for access to hearing aids.
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