Alternative Hearing Assistance Supplement

Overview

The ministry may provide a monthly alternative hearing assistance supplement to assist eligible persons to meet costs associated with overcoming barriers related to having permanent profound bilateral hearing loss. 

The alternative hearing assistance supplement is available under the Employment and Assistance (EA) Regulation and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities (EAPWD) Regulation.

Other programs and resources:

Supports and Services – Assistive 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: September 1, 2017

The alternative hearing assistance supplement is available to recipients who are eligible for general health supplements [see Additional Resources - Health Supplement Summary].

The alternative hearing assistance supplement is also available to children who are eligible for the Healthy Kids Program [see Related Links – Healthy Kids].

The alternative hearing assistance supplement may be provided to an eligible person if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The ministry is satisfied that:
    • the person has permanent profound hearing loss in both ears, and
    • the person cannot significantly benefit from a hearing instrument for the purpose of speech comprehension
  • An audiologist or a hearing instrument practitioner registered with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, within the last 12 months, has:
    • performed an assessment to confirm permanent profound hearing loss in both ears, and
    • provided an opinion that the person cannot significantly benefit from a hearing instrument for the purpose of speech comprehension

The alternative hearing assistance supplement may not be provided if the person received a hearing instrument from the ministry under the medical equipment hearing instrument supplement, or from another source, in the previous 36 months, unless an audiologist or hearing instrument practitioner has confirmed that the person has developed permanent profound hearing loss in both ears since receiving the hearing instrument. 

The amount provided under the supplement is listed in the Rate Table: Health Supplements and Programs.

Effective:  September 1, 2017

Hearing assessment services may be provided either through the regional health authority or through private service providers.

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

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

Procedures

 

Assessing Eligibility

Effective:  November 27, 2017

All alternative hearing assistance supplement requests must be submitted with an assessment from an audiologist or a hearing instrument practitioner registered with the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, within the last 12 months to confirm permanent profound hearing loss in both ears.

To request the alternative hearing assistance supplement, the person’s hearing health professional should contact Pacific Blue Cross (PBC) to start the process of determining eligibility [ see Contacts].

To assess a person’s eligibility for the alternative hearing assistance supplement, PBC follows these steps:

  1. Confirms the person’s eligibility to apply for the supplement.
  2. Where eligibility is confirmed, PBC advises the hearing health professional what supporting documentation is required.
  3. Once all supporting documents have been received, PBC reviews the request and determines eligibility.
  4. PBC notifies the person of the decision in writing.

Note:  All alternative hearing assistance supplement documentation should be sent directly from the hearing health professional to PBC. Ministry staff should direct alternative hearing assistance supplement requests to PBC [see Contacts].

Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective:  November 27, 2017

Employment and Assistance Worker is responsible for:

  • Directing applicants to Pacific Blue Cross (PBC) to request the alternative hearing assistance supplement
  • Upon request, setting up a service request for reconsideration when the alternative hearing assistance supplement has been denied through PBC.

Health Assistance (HA) is responsible for:

  • Alternative Hearing Assistance Supplement contract management
  • Coordinating with Pacific Blue Cross on enquiries regarding the alternative hearing assistance supplement.

Hearing Health Professional is responsible for:

  • Performing an assessment and completing the documentation required to apply for the supplement*
  • Submitting assessment documents to PBC
  • *Note: The ministry is not responsible for any fees associated with the hearing assessment or completion of documentation.

Alternative Hearing Assistance Supplement Contractor, Pacific Blue Cross (PBC), is responsible for:

  • Advising an applicant or hearing instrument service provider of a person’s eligibility to apply for alternative hearing assistance supplement
  • Assessing a person’s eligibility for the alternative hearing assistance supplement
  • Advising the person of the eligibility decision, and if denied offering the right to reconsideration
  • If eligibility is determined, providing payment to the person for the alternative hearing assistance supplement
  • Providing further decision information to the reconsideration stream, when required for reconsideration.