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Understanding health insurance

May 28, 2019

Need a hearing aid? Here’s how you can pay for it

Need help paying for a hearing device? Find out what your provincial and workplace plans have to offer.

As the years pass, are you having increasing difficulty hearing or understanding your family, friends or co-workers? It can start with a few missing or mumbled words. You might find yourself asking others to speak up. Or perhaps there’s a ringing in your ears that won’t go away.

Age-related hearing loss can develop gradually, says the Hearing Foundation of Canada. It might not seem like an issue at first. But the longer it goes untreated, the more troublesome it can become. According to the foundation, more than half of Canadians over the age of 65 will experience some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing impairment isn’t just a concern for seniors. More than 2,000 children are born with a hearing loss in Canada every year. And many people are now showing signs of hearing loss in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Statistics Canada has found that 40% of Canadians aged 20 to 79 had slight hearing loss in one or both ears. Government and academic studies have also shown that hearing loss can increase your chances of social isolation, depression, falls and dementia.

Assistive devices and equipment for hearing loss   

Along with physical and mental setbacks, hearing loss can take a toll on your wallet. When you pay for hearing-loss treatment, you may be paying for a hearing aid or implant plus all the services that come with it. That can include repairs, implants, fittings, tests and cleanings. You may also need other available treatments, such as these items:

  • Cochlear implants help damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) send sound signals to the brain.
  • Bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) sound processors spread sound waves through your skull, sidestepping the outer and middle ear.
  • Abutments link the BAHA sound processor with the implant in the bone.
  • FM systems include a receiver that you wear and a transmitter that the speaker wears. They are useful in noisy situations or when you’re listening to someone from a distance.
  • Teletypewriters let you send typed messages across phone lines.
  • Telephone amplifiers improve the sound quality of your phone.
  • Adapted alarm clocks use ultra-loud sounds or vibrations to get you up in the morning.

Whether you need one or two hearing aids, an implant or several assistive devices, you could be facing a four-figure bill. So how can you get relief from some of this financial burden? Start by finding out what your province or territory offers.

Hearing loss benefits by province and territory

Who could be covered?

Residents in one of these situations: 

  • You have a workplace disability.
  • You’re a parent who’s hard of hearing.
  • You’re a dependent child whose family is getting premium assistance through the Medical Services Plan.
  • You have a hearing loss and provide sole support for an adult with a cognitive impairment. This means trouble remembering, learning new things or making everyday decisions.
  • You’re hard of hearing and are registered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

What could be covered?

  • Hearing instruments
  • Bone-anchored hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants and repairs

How much could be covered?

The province could cover the cost of these devices if other resources – like private insurance, PharmaCare, WorkSafeBC, Veterans Affairs Canada – can’t help you.

Visit Medical equipment - hearing instruments to find out how to apply.

Who could be covered?

  • Children and teens under 18
  • Full-time students at a college or a university, ages 18 to 24
  • Residents aged 18 to 64, with a low income
  • Residents who are 65 years or older – either you, your spouse or an adult dependant have hearing loss

What could be covered?

  • Hearing aids, replacements and repairs

How much could be covered?

  • Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) could pay 75% of the cost of a hearing aid. This applies to hearing aids that are worth up to a maximum of $1,200.
  • Residents could get coverage for one or two hearing aids once every 5 years. However, seniors with high incomes may only get coverage for one hearing aid every 5 years.
  • Visit Benefits covered to find out how to apply.

Who could be covered?

What could be covered?

  •     Hearing aids

How much could be covered?

You may be able to get help from one of these sources:

  • Health Canada for First Nations
  • Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board for workers
  • Up to $600 for one hearing aid for seniors on Pharmacare through the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan
  • Chronic Diseases for children under age 16
  • Blue Cross Health Insurance for military veterans

For more info, visit Hearing services.

Who could be covered?

What could be covered?

  • Hearing aids and repairs

How much could be covered?

Who could be covered?

  • Residents covered under  Supplementary Health Benefits and Family Health Benefits

What could be covered?

  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing tests
  • A lost or broken hearing aid

How much could be covered?

  • Audiology services, hearing aids and certain supplies.
  • If you’re over 20, 30% of the cost of replacing a lost or broken hearing aid.

Visit Supplementary health benefits to find out how to apply.

Who could be covered?

  • Children and teens under 18

What could be covered?

  • Hearing aids
  • Dispensing fees
  • Ear molds
  • Ear impressions

How much could be covered?

  • Children’s Hearing Aid Program could cover 80% of the cost of these items.
  • Hearing aids to a maximum of $500 per ear.

Visit Children's Hearing Aid Progam to find out how to apply.

Who could be covered?

  • All residents

What could be covered?

  • Hearing aids
  • FM systems
  • Cochlear implant replacement speech processors
  • Replacement of BAHA sound processors with abutments
  • Printing teletypewriters
  • Non-printing teletypewriters
  • Message-signalling devices

How much could be covered?

  • 75% of the cost to a set maximum. For example, 75% of the cost of a hearing aid up to $500.

Visit Assistive devices program to find out how to apply.

Who could be covered?

  • Children aged 11 and under with a hearing impairment
  • Teens aged 12 to 18 with a hearing loss of at least 25 dB in one ear
  • Students aged 19 and up, with a hearing impairment of at least 25 dB in one ear and earning a diploma, certificate or attestation recognized by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur
  • Residents aged 19 and up with a hearing loss of a least 35 dB in their better ear
  • Anyone with a hearing loss or impairment that affects their ability to work, study or socialize

What could be covered?

  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing aid replacements and repairs
  • Adapted alarm clocks
  • Telephone amplifiers
  • Teletypewriters

How much could be covered?

  • Full coverage for these items. To qualify, you must have a hearing loss of a certain decibel (dB) – that’s the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound.

Visit Hearing aids to find out how to apply.

Who could be covered?

  • Students up to age 21 (in all Atlantic provinces)
  • Children under 18 in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Adults in financial need in Newfoundland and Labrador

What could be covered?

  • Hearing devices

How much could be covered?

  • Students could get special audiology care and a price discount on hearing devices through the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) program. Visit APSEA - Additional services for more info.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s Provincial Hearing Aid Program (PHAP) offers hearing aids for children, full-time students and adults with low incomes.
  • All Prince Edward Islanders could get free hearing assessments.

This provincial and territorial subsidy information is accurate as of May 1, 2019. Please contact your provincial or territorial program for the most up-to-date information. 

Does your employee benefits plan cover hearing loss?

Looking for more assistance than what your province offers? Check if your workplace benefits include supplemental health care or a health spending account. These benefits might help pay for medical expenses such as hearing aids, which your province or territory may not cover. Ask your HR department what your workplace benefits offer.

If your plan is with Sun Life, call the Customer Care Centre at 1-800-361-6212, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. You can also find more information about your employee coverage details in your plan benefit booklet or by signing in to your my Sun Life account.

All of the content provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not professional medical advice, or a substitute for that advice.

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