Media releases

July 7, 2003

Hearing Groups Praise Medibank Private

The Audiological Society of Australia (ASA) and Deafness Forum Australia (DFA) have praised two recent Medibank Private initiatives for hearing impaired members.

Australia's largest private health insurer has amended its policy to allow pensioners and health-care card holders to claim benefits for hearing aids bought through the Commonwealth Government-subsidised Office of Hearing Services scheme.

Medibank Private also recognises that audiologists are well qualified and practise to high clinical and ethical standards. As a consequence Medibank Private has streamlined the benefit payment process to its members such that the recommendation of the client's hearing services provider is sufficient for a hearing aid benefit to be paid.

Medibank Private Managing Director George Savvides said that he hoped the changes would prove more convenient for Medibank Private's hearing impaired members.

"We are constantly reviewing our fund rules and benefit structures, and we felt that these were changes that could be sustained commercially and would help our hearing impaired members," Mr Savvides said.

"Medibank Private is to be commended for reviewing and amending their previous policy," said ASA Federal Councillor Mr Jonathan Galt.

"A number of other health funds still retain policies of denying rebates in these circumstances and I publicly call upon them to follow Medibank Private's lead," said Mr Galt.

Deafness Forum Australia CEO, Mr Brian Rope, also praised Medibank Private for its professionalism in recognising that the hearing impaired deserved a better deal.

"Everyone benefits by even marginal improvements to hearing health care," said Mr Rope.

"Studies have linked quality hearing health care to improved physical, emotional and psychological well being so there are many spin offs for the community, government taxpayer and health funds," said Mr Rope.

The DFA Chief said that now is the time for other health funds to follow lead of Medibank Private in improving their rebate access and approval processes.

Medibank Private has advised that any member who may have been inadvertently denied a hearing aid benefit after 12 March 2003 should visit their local Medibank Private retail centre or call 132 331 to have their claim reviewed.

In 2002, Medibank Private paid over $1.6 million in benefits for over 4,500 hearing aids on behalf of its members.


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