The Department’s Medical Appliance scheme, which provides grants to assist in the purchase of hearing aids, is available to those who have the required number of PRSI contributions, and their dependant spouse / partners.
The number of applications for hearing aids under the scheme has been rising in recent years, from 7,500 grants paid in 2009 to 14,600 in 2018. The extension of the scheme to the self employed in March 2017 has also proved to be very popular.
Access to hearing aids is provided for both under the Department's PRSI scheme and the HSE's parallel scheme, which provides medical card holders with access to free hearing aids. The two schemes provide access to quality hearing aids to all sectors of society, irrespective of their income category.
The numbers claiming under the scheme over recent years and the payments made by my Department bear testimony to the important contribution the scheme is making for PRSI contributors and their dependant spouse/partners who are experiencing hearing loss.
Any changes to the current arrangements in respect of these benefits would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.