In Japan, hearing impaired people may receive public support for the purchase of hearing aids.

Application for a special handicap identity card must be made at the local welfare office, according to a report from the Japan External Trade Organization. To be eligible, the applicants must provide a doctor's statement as documentation for the hearing problem. The amount of available support depends on the degree of hearing loss.

Program administration and assistance vary from one place to another, but local welfare offices commonly approve the purchase of a preferred hearing aid even if the purchase cost exceeds the standard assistance amount. The cost of hearing aids depends on model and type. In-the-ear and behind-the-ear models are priced between JPY50,000 and JPY400,000 (approx. US$460-3700).

Hearing aids are available through a number of other support plans, as well, targeting children, the elderly and people affected in the workplace by their hearing loss.

In addition to subsidies, medical treatment exemptions are available through the local tax office when a written diagnosis prescribing medical treatment is provided. A cost exemption cannot be obtained merely by presenting a receipt from the store from which the hearing aid was purchased.

Hearing aids are sold in hearing aid specialty stores which are members of the Japan Hearing Aid Dispensers Association, as well as in eyewear and timepiece stores, drugstores and department stores.

Source: Japan Trade External Organization (JERTO)

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