Organisation and finance
Austria has a system of social insurance associations (Krankenkassen), which cover some of the costs of hearing aids, for those patients who are diagnosed with non-curable hearing impairments.
Patients who are covered by this social insurance can be granted monoaural or binaural provided they have a proper prescription from an ENT specialist. There are fixed subsidies in the Austrian system of social insurance and the costs covered by "Krankenkassen" differ. There is a standard fee, a special fee for ski slope hearing loss, a special fee for severe hearing loss and a special fee for employees with â€œspecial needsâ€.
Generally speaking, in order to have all costs covered, patients have to settle for a "simple and suitable" solution - i.e. inexpensive, simple hearing aids.
Austrians who require more advanced hearing aids will have to pay part of the costs themselves.
Testing and treatment
Austrians who suspect they are suffering from a hearing impairment should see an ENT-specialist at a specialised hearing clinic or at the outpatient department (Ambulatorium) at the local hospital. Once diagnosed as having a hearing impairment, the patient must then visit a dispenser to be tested and fitted with a hearing aid by audiology technicians (called HÃ¶rgerÃ¤te-akustiker).
The dispenser normally provides hearing aids for a trial period of about one month. If the trial is successful, the ENT specialist and the dispenser fill out the necessary paperwork so that the patient can reclaim the costs from the social insurance associations.
Waiting periods are short - typically a couple of weeks in order to have personalised hearing aids manufactured and fitted.
Types of hearing aids
Only the simplest, least expensive hearing aids can be acquired with a full subsidy from the social insurance associations. Anyone in Austria wanting digital, ITE or ITC types will have to pay part of the costs themselves.
Batteries and service
Batteries are usually not covered by health insurance. However, Austrians who are not able to pay for batteries themselves, can receive help from certain social security programs (Bundessozialamt).
Repairs are covered by the social insurance - however, they will only cover the same percentage of the service costs as for the hearing aid itself.
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