In Australia there is no standard medicare rebate for hearing assessments (ie optometrists can bulk bill all medicare card holders for a test every 3 years). This means that a GP referral form is not compulsory.
A full diagnostic hearing assessment is where an audiologist examines your ear canal, checks your middle ear status, does hearing testing across 250-8000Hz using a combination of air and bone conduction and masks appropriately. It usually also includes speech testing and evaluating your current hearing issues. This testing is generally done in a sound treated booth to ensure accuracy. This testing generally costs $100 and if you have private health insurance extras they may provide some reimbursement for the test but will not cover the costs of the test.
A hearing screening is when a technician or receptionist provides a quick check of some frequencies in the hearing range and decides if you require further testing or need hearing aids. It is generally performed in a normal or noisy room and is provided for free. Depending on the skills of the provider and the noise levels it may or may not provide accurate data.
We do not provide hearing screenings in our clinic as we don’t believe they reflect well on our skills and it is easy for a client to assume that they had a full hearing test by a fully qualified person when in fact they may have only had a check by an unqualified technician. We prefer to supply people with a hearing questionnaire which is known to provide a more accurate reflection of their hearing needs than a screening using beeps.
In some cases Medicare funding is available for hearing assessment. If you have a referral to us written by an ENT or Neurologist you will receive some rebate. If you are given a GP management plan with audiology sessions assigned you will also receive a rebate. If people require a fully subsidised hearing test, they either need to contact Barwon Health and put themselves on the audiology waiting list or if they are on a government pension or DVA pension they can apply for funding at our clinic to be seen on the Office of Hearing services voucher program.