Medicare changes are widening access to hearing care

How do the recent Medicare changes help? Not everyone gets to experience equal and affordable access to hearing care. Fortunately, policies are shifting to help audiologists tackle these inequities. As of today, 1 March 2023, there are fundamental changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule, which governs which healthcare services are rebated by the Government’s Medicare insurance scheme.

Providers joining forces to improve people’s lives

Highlighting inequities to hearing health access and further integrating ear and hearing care within primary healthcare are important initiatives of World Hearing Day 2023, with its theme ‘Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality’.

Nina Quinn, an Audiology Australia Accredited Audiologist and the CEO of Neurosensory, one of Australia’s largest multistate, comprehensive hearing care providers, headquartered in Brisbane, says the Medicare changes will naturally encourage other healthcare providers to work more closely with audiologists, leading to better patient outcomes.

Medicare changes

“I think there is an emerging opportunity here to build new relationships in the healthcare system,” explains Nina.

“First of all, we’ve got a new level of access for Australians in regional and remote areas, where there may be no neurologists or ENTs, which will encourage audiologists and other healthcare professionals, like GPs, to work closer together.

“Secondly, there’s a real opportunity now for audiologists to help other professionals get the job done to treat patients. We can help them exclude sinister pathology and help them understand if there are any acute conditions that need a further referral.”

Driven by her personal and family history of hearing loss, Nina is highly passionate about broadening access to hearing care for larger cohorts of people, to help them more easily interact with the world around them.

While the Medicare changes represent a more fundamental opening of access, Nina is also hopeful that there will in the future be changes to the Hearing Services Program (HSP), a Government initiative offering free or subsidised hearing assessments and hearing aids to eligible Australians aged 0-26, 65 and older, or belonging to other demographics.

“I would like to see the HSP expand to include Australians aged 27 to 64. It’s a cohort where access to hearing care is largely self-funded, and robust economic modelling indicates that expanding access to this cohort, and investing in their hearing rehabilitation, will have enormous community and social benefit,” Nina says.

“There shouldn’t be any discrimination on who can access hearing care based on age, economic means or location. ‘Ear and hearing care for all’ means no one should miss out. No one should be left behind on this fundamental access to such an important sense.”

Too read the full article written and published by Audiology Australia follow this link: Policy Shift Helps Audiologists Tackle Hearing Care Inequities (