About free hearing tests
We are often asked whether we offer free hearing tests like many other hearing clinics. Except in very specific circumstances, no we do not. Find out why below.
On this page
- Are they really free?
- What about government-funded tests?
- Why we charge for hearing tests
- Why you pay less with us in the long run
- Transparent pricing
- Questions you should ask
Your local hearing clinic may not be so local any more. National chains and global hearing aid manufacturers have been buying up independent operators at a great rate in recent years and this has certainly been the case in Canberra. The change in ownership is not always obvious.
Our concern is for the viability of essential diagnostic services that are needed by the community - services that may never have anything to do with hearing aid sales but are critically important to those who need them.
We also know that hearing aids are not the only solution for those with hearing loss, and we have met with an alarming number of clients who, in our professional opinion, have been oversold solutions that exceed their lifestyle or budget requirements. The trend toward paid commissions and other incentives in health care worries us.
At Brindabella Hearing & Speech Centre we never pay commissions or set employee targets on hearing aid fittings or any other product or service.
It is true that pensioners and war veterans can receive free hearing tests and hearing aids through funding provided by the Australian Government Hearing Services Program [external link]. These are free from your perspective, but for us they work similar to Medicare: we bill the government and they reimburse us for the service. Learn more about government schemes.
Brindabella Hearing & Speech Centre performs thousands of hearing assessments each year, many at the request of General Practitioners, Ear Nose & Throat Specialists and concerned parents. Most of these have nothing to do with hearing aids. Our Audiologists hold post-graduate university qualifications and do not work for free, so we cannot perform these services for free; in order for Canberra and surrounds to continue to be serviced with top quality diagnostic services we must charge a fee.
You expect to pay a fee for most medical services. Most doctors charge for their time, as do allied health professionals. In fact, the situations where a fee is not charged for a diagnostic service tend to be:
- Charitable groups offering services.
- Government funded services.
- Someone is trying to sell you something and hoping to recoup diagnostic costs from the product sale.
When you get an assessment from us the advice you receive will be professional and objective. We sell a lot of hearing aids, it's true - and our clients love them. We have one of the lowest return rates in the industry - well under 2% - because we fit you with what you need and can afford, and we work with you diligently in the rehabilitative process to help you adapt to life with improved hearing. As an example, we have long offered an Audiologist-facilitated group session with other new hearing aid users to swap tips and experiences; not all hearing clinics go to such lengths.
When you properly integrate hearing aids into your lifestyle, you get great value. As Brindabella Hearing & Speech Centre is not affiliated or owned by a national chain or hearing aid company, we offer a choice of world leading brands and models to suit your needs. Products and features change often so we regularly review our offerings to ensure you have the best products backed by the best services and guarantees on offer. If a brand or model is available in Australia, we can fit you with it.
It's worth adding that we have a policy of never bulk ordering hearing aid stock in exchange for supplier discounts. Why don't we do this? The technology changes so fast it would risk some clients ending up with obsolete 'bin-ends' and we think you deserve the latest and the best from the product range you've selected. Our orders are lodged with suppliers only after clients have made their decisions.
Another way we differ is with our transparent and unbundled pricing. We provide separate pricing options for assessments, hearing aids and service packages. Most of our competitors bundle their prices; we think you should choose what is right for you. For example, a binaural (both ears) fitting should not have additional fitting charges, and with our method they do not, but when you pay a set price per hearing aid you may be paying twice. Furthermore, we offer a reduced service package for existing users who are upgrading as they require less rehabilitative assistance than a first-time user.
With all that being said, we understand the attractiveness of a free hearing test. We just ask that you go into it with eyes open. Here are some questions that we think you should ask your hearing provider before committing to a purchase:
- Which hearing aid brands do you fit? If it's only one or two, be aware that you may not be getting a reasonable range of choices, nor a viable alternative should the first option not meet your expectations. We are also aware of some clinics who are owned by a hearing aid company but carry multiple brands to provide a veneer of choice; the issue here is that competing brands may be marked up to favour the home brand.
- Will the assessment and fitting be conducted by a fully qualified Audiologist? Audiometrists can fit hearing aids but their training is not as in-depth. We've even heard of some clinics that get their receptionists to do the initial screening.
- How long is the assessment and what reports will I walk away with? How many fitting and followup appointments will I get and how long are they? Is a user group session included? In our experience, time with the Audiologist is a key success factor in keeping hearing aids out of the drawer and in your ears.
- What guarantees do you offer? If I am unhappy with the first hearing aid I try, are there additional service charges to try another? Are there more hearing aids to try at the same price or will I have to pay up to a more expensive model? All hearing aid manufacturers offer flexible refund periods so make sure you know your rights as a client.
Finally, if you feel like you are being pressured to make a decision, we would advise you to walk away - at least temporarily. Your hearing health is worthy of due consideration - and possibly a second opinion.