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Australia

Australia

Organisation and finance
Australia has a public system for hearing aid dispensing, administered by the Commonwealth Hearing Services Program Voucher System. Eligible adult clients in this system include pensioners, recepients of sickness allowances, veterans or members of the defence forces, or persons undergoing vocational rehabilitation. Others must pay for hearing aids and servicing themselves.

The above-mentioned clients can receive free hearing tests and fitting of hearing aids.

Since 1997, the system of public hearing health care has been supplemented by a system which allows hearing-impaired people to seek assistance from a private dispenser should they want to do so.

In practice, vouchers are handed out to citizens who have been approved for hearing health care. This approval is made by the Office of Hearing Services. Vouchers can be "traded in" for hearing aids in the public system or at a private dispenser within 24 months. "Top-Up" arrangements - where patients choose a more expensive hearing aid and "tops up" the cost himself - are generally accepted.

Testing and treatment
Australia has a system of public hearing health clinics, manned by hearing health care professionals who adapt the hearing aids to the individual users.
Since 1997, and the introduction of receiving financial help in the form of vouchers for privately dispensed hearing aids, the private market has been continually growing. All servicing companies are contracted by the Office of Hearing Services.

Waiting lists
Waiting lists in the public system have been increasing since 1997, mainly due to a constant lack of hearing health care professionals in the public sector. Today, waiting periods vary according to the demands in certain geographical areas and the number of servicing companies available.

In the private system there are, in general, no waiting lists.

Types of hearing aids
Hearing centres and private hearing aid dispensers have at their disposal a range of digital BTE and ITE hearing aids that are fully subsidised by the Australian government. Hearing-impaired people who want additional features in hearing aids can, by making a personal contribution, obtain them through a 'top-up' arrangement, where they pay the difference in price between the hearing aid and one what they would alternatively receive free of charge.

Batteries and service
In Australia it is common to have a so-called "subscriber's" deal with a dispenser who gives the user batteries and servicing in return for an annual maintenance fee of AUD 31.50. This maintenance agreement is recommended by the authorities. If not chosen, the patient will have to pay for batteries and servicing out of his own pocket.

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