The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides free audiology services, including hearing tests and hearing aids, to medical card holders and to children under 18.
You will normally be referred to the HSE Community Audiology Service by your family doctor (GP) or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Children may also be referred to children's audiology services by a paediatrician, a public health nurse or the National Newborn Hearing Screening Programme.
Hearing tests involve an examination of your ear by an audiologist or ENT specialist. You will then be asked to put on headphones and listen to sounds at different pitches so the audiologist can find the level at which you can no longer hear.
Hearing tests can also be conducted on infants and very young children who are unable to wear headphones or communicate that they cannot hear sounds. Tests on infants or young children are similar to those conducted on adults (they are non-invasive) and are carried out using specialist sonar equipment. The level of the child's hearing is then measured and any corrective action is prescribed.
If you have a medical card or belong to one of the other eligible groups mentioned below, you can get a hearing aid free of charge.
The HSE National Hearing Aid Repair Centre provides hearing aid repairs and servicing for hearing aids provided by the HSE Community Audiology Service.
If you are not eligible for a free hearing aid, you may qualify for support under the Treatment Benefit Scheme.
Treatment Benefit Scheme
Treatment Benefit is a scheme operated by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that provides dental, optical and aural services to insured workers and retired people who have the required number of PRSI contributions.
Hearing aids may be provided under the scheme by suppliers who have a contract with the Department. The Department contributes towards the cost of the supply or repair of hearing aids.
Community Audiology Services are available free of charge to:
- Medical card holders
- Children under 18
- People with Hepatitis C who have a Health Amendment Act Card
Children who are discovered to have hearing problems at the child health service and school health service examinations are referred to the appropriate consultant for treatment. If this treatment is carried out at the out-patient department of a public hospital, the service is free and no hospital charges have to be paid.
Medical card holders can obtain a replacement hearing aid after 2 years but if your hearing aid is damaged or broken you can get a replacement before the end of the 2-year period.
If you do not have a medical card, the Treatment Benefit Scheme may cover you and your dependent spouse for some of the cost of hearing aids. You may also be able to claim tax relief for medical expenses incurred.
There is no charge for medical card holders or children to have a hearing test at Community Audiology Centres.
There is no charge to attend a public hospital outpatient clinic if you are referred there.
How to apply
Adults with hearing problems may be referred to Community Audiology Services by their GP or ENT specialist.