Hearing Needs in South Carolina
The Affordable Hearing Aid Program provides hearing aids to to under insured, low income SC residents.
Listening to Client Needs
One of the health complications associated with vision loss is hearing loss. This combined deterioration of senses can create further isolation and depression in clients. In response to a growing demand for hearing aids from clients, LVS created an Affordable Hearing Aid Program in 1976 that utilizes a co-payment system to decrease the financial burden of procuring a hearing aid for clients. Only digital, nonprogrammable BTE hearing aids are provided.
The applicant is responsible for the cost of obtaining a hearing test on their own. The hearing test or “audiogram” must be less than six months old.
Applications are only available from the offices of Lions Vision Services. To apply, clients must send a recent audiogram to the LVS office, including the client’s name and address before an application can be sent. Applicants have 60 days from the time they were mailed the application to complete and return the forms. In addition to the signed and completed forms, the applicant must provide proof of the income and expenses for everyone in their household. The applicant must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least six months.
Once LVS receives a completed application package along with proof of income and expenses for the household, the application will be reviewed. This process could take up to eight weeks. If the applicant meets the criteria for assistance, an approval letter detailing the co-payment amount and fitting fee (see below) will be mailed.
The applicant will also be informed by mail if the application is denied. Those who have received assistance through the program may apply once every three years if in need of additional help with hearing aids. Denied applicants may re-apply six months after their application was turned down.
Currently, the co-payment is $100.00 per hearing aid. Most people will require two hearing aids. The approved applicant will be informed of the co-payment amount and must provide the payment to Lions Vision Services in the form of a money order, bank cashier’s check, or Visa, Master Card, or Discover credit cards before purchase the hearing aids.
Types of Hearing Aids
Lions Vision Services purchases hearing aids directly from a manufacturer, so there is significant savings compared to purchasing hearing aids at the retail level. This program can only provide what are known as “behind-the-ear” (BTE) style hearing aids. The aids are new, digital non-programmable and include a 14-month repair or replacement warranty. Any repairs to the aid beyond the 14-month warranty period will be the responsibility of the recipient of the hearing aid.
The hearing professional who performed the hearing test will be asked to perform the fitting of the hearing aid to the recipient. This service requires the making of an impression of the ear called an “ear-mold.” Fitting of the instruments is also required. Hearing professionals will require an office visit fee to provide this service. Lions Vision Services will negotiate the amount of this fee. The fee charged by hearing professionals for the “ear-mold” and fitting of BTE will vary. Typically, the charge is between $150.00 and $250.00.
The local Lions Club closest to the applicant will be asked if it is willing to pay some or all of the fitting fees. If the Club cannot help with this expense, the applicant will be required to enter into an agreement to pay the hearing professional’s fitting fee. This amount will also be outlined in the approval letter.
If the local Lions Club cannot pay the fitting fee, and the applicant does not enter into the agreement to pay the fee, the hearing aids cannot be ordered.
The applicant will also be responsible for any additional office visit fees required by the hearing professional beyond the original fitting.