Medical Equipment - Hearing Instruments

Overview

The least expensive, appropriate hearing instruments and associated repairs and supplies are provided to eligible recipients who lack the financial resources to meet the need.

Hearing instruments and associated repairs and supplies are available under the Employment and Assistance Regulation and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation.

Other programs and resources:

Supports and ServicesAssistive Technology

Information regarding other supports and services, including resources for assistive technology, can be found on the Supports & Services website.

WorkBC and Technology@Work

People with disabilities can access assistive technologies through WorkBC to help them find a job, or if they need a piece of equipment to keep working at their current job. WorkBC provides employment related:

  • assistive devices, equipment and technology
  • communication and hearing devices
  • ergonomic supports and other personal devices
  • interpreting and captioning services
  • workplace access and modification

More information on WorkBC services and supports for persons with disabilities can be found here: Work BC Advice for PWD.

Technology@Work supports individuals that need assistive technology products and services to overcome disability-related barriers in the workplace. 

More information on Technology@ Work can be found here: BC Technology@work

Policy

Effective:  April 1, 2015

Hearing instruments and some services, such as repairs and battery replacements, may be provided either through the regional health authority or through private service providers.

Wherever available, recipients should access the regional health authority hearing clinic. In communities where this clinic is not available, recipients should be referred to the audiology department of the nearest hospital providing this service.

If health authority hearing instrument services are unavailable, the recipient may access a local hearing instrument service provider who is an audiologist or a hearing instrument practitioner registered with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC. Recipients do not require a referral from their medical practitioner to obtain hearing services from a private service provider. 

Effective:  April 1, 2017

Hearing instruments, bone anchored hearing aids, cochlear implants, repairs, and related items are available to the following:

  • a recipient who is eligible for General Health Supplements (see Related Links -  Health Supplement Summary)
  • ‚Äča dependent child
  • a recpient who is a hearing impaired parent of a dependent child
  • a recipient involved in ministry-approved training or who, in the opinion of the Supervisor, requires an instrument to obtain employment and where failure to provide represents a direct barrier to employment
  • a recipient who is both registered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and is hearing impaired
  • a recipient with a hearing impairment who is the sole homemaking support for an adult who has a cognitive impairment

Hearing instruments, bone anchored hearing aids, cochlear implants, repairs, and related items are provided when all of the following criteria are met:

  • an audiologist or a hearing instrument practitioner registered with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC has performed an assessment to confirm the need and prescribes the hearing instrument
  • the purchase of the hearing instrument has been pre-approved (payment responsibility will not be accepted for hearing instruments purchased without prior approval)
  • the hearing instruments are the least expensive and appropriate 
  • there are no resources available to the family unit to pay the cost of or obtain the hearing instruments

Hearing instruments and associated repairs and supplies may not be provided in the same month that the person receives the alternative hearing assistance supplement [see Related Links – Alternative Hearing Assistance Supplement].

Effective:  April 1, 2010

By regulation, the ministry is the payer of last resort and requires that all other available resources must first be considered before requesting funding. For income assistance and disability assistance clients, other resources include (but are not limited to) accessing or funding through:

  • Other government programs (e.g., PharmaCare, Health Authorities, ICBC, WorkSafeBC, Veterans Affairs Canada)
  • Private insurance
  • If there are other resources available, the individual is not eligible for hearing instruments from the ministry. 
  • Co-funding may be considered when other resources cannot pay the entire cost. For example, if an insurance company will pay $500 for an item that costs $1,000, the ministry may consider funding the remaining $500 if all other eligibility criteria are met.

Note: When assessing hearing instruments eligibility for income or disability assistance clients, exempt assets are not considered. When assessing other resources for persons with a life-threatening health need or persons who are medical services only, see Related Links – Life-Threatening Health Need and Medical Services Only.

 

Effective:  April 1, 2017

The ministry may consider repairing or replacing hearing instruments due to the item being damaged, worn out, or not functioning.

Repairs may be considered if all of the following are met:

  • It is more economical to repair, rather than replace, the hearing instruments
  • The hearing instruments have not been damaged by misuse
  • If the hearing instruments were not previously provided by the ministry, all other eligibility requirements must be met (e.g., prescription)

Replacement may be considered if all of the following are met:

  • It is more economical to replace, rather than repair, the hearing instruments
  • The hearing instruments have not been damaged by misuse

Hearing instruments and associated repairs and supplies may not be provided in the same month that the person receives the alternative hearing assistance supplement [see Related Links – Alternative Hearing Assistance Supplement].

Procedures

Effective:  April 1, 2015

To request hearing instruments, the client's hearing instrument service provider should contact Pacific Blue Cross (PBC) to start the process of determining eligibility.

To assess a recipient's eligibility for hearing instruments, PBC follows these steps:
 

  1. Confirms the recipient's eligibility.
  2. Where eligibility is confirmed, PBC advises the hearing instrument provider what supporting documentation is required.
    The hearing instrument provider then has 120 days to respond to PBC, with the required records, for adjudication.
  3. Once all supporting documents have been received, PBC makes a final decision.
  4. PBC advises the service provider of the decision directly.
  5. The service provider will advise the recipient of the decision.

Note: the Ministry does not accept hearing instrument request documents.  All hearing instrument inquiry and request documents should be sent directly from the hearing instrument provider to PBC. 

Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective:  April 1, 2017

Hearing Instrument Program Contractor, Pacific Blue Cross (PBC), is responsible for:

  • Advising hearing instrument service providers of client eligibility for hearing instruments
  • Assessing eligibility for the hearing instruments
  • Advising hearing instrument service provider of decision
  • Providing payment to hearing instrument service provider for authorized hearing instruments
  • Providing further decision information to the reconsideration stream, when requested

Hearing Instrument Service Provider is responsible for:

  • Employing an audiologist or licensed registrant of the Board of Hearing Instrument Practitioners to perform an assessment to confirm the need and prescribe the hearing instrument*
  • Informing client of hearing instrument decision
  • Upon authorization, providing client with a 60-day trial period.  If the client finds the hearing instrument unsatisfactory within the trial period, the client may return the instrument to the service provider
  • *NOTE: The ministry is not responsible for any fees associated with documentation for hearing instruments.

Health Assistance Branch (HAB) is responsible for:

  • Hearing Instrument contract management
  • Coordinating with Pacific Blue Cross on enquiries regarding hearing instruments 

Employment and Assistance Worker is responsible for:

  • Upon client request, setting up a service request for reconsideration when hearing instruments have been denied through PBC. Documentation from PBC is not required.