Today (March 9) is France’s ‘National Audition Day’.
But do not worry, this does not mean everybody has to try out for the parts of Cosette or Marius in Les Misérables.
Journée Nationale de l'Audition also translates as National Hearing Day – it’s a day to promote awareness of aural health.
Around 25% of French adults suffer from some form of hearing loss, according to an extensive study conducted last year, yet many people do not seek help.
To mark the occasion, The Connexion looks at five common questions regarding your auditory health in France.
How do I book a hearing test?
You can book your hearing test at a number of places, including:
Your GP’s office
With an ENT specialist (known as an ORL in France)
An audioprothésiste (a hearing specialist)
To make a general hearing appointment, you can look for your nearest audioprothésiste office and make an appointment there. There are many different chains of audioprothésiste, alongside small individual clinics, meaning finding an office close to you should be easy.
Online tests can be made through a number of online audioprothèse websites, where instructions are given on how to conduct the test online.
What are the costs of a hearing test?
A first hearing test (known as a bilan auditif in audiology clinics) is free at a hearing specialist’s office. If they pick up on signs of hearing loss or other problems during the appointment, you will need to book a further appointment with an ENT specialist.
These tests cost around €100, and social security pays around €21 of the fee. Health insurance from your mutuelle or complémentaire santé, if you have one, should cover some or all of the remainder of the costs.
If you go to a specialist, costs may be higher due to the ‘sector’ they are in - sector 1 specialists do not charge extra fees, sector 2 specialists may charge moderate fees, and those in sector 3 can apply fees as they wish.
Read more: Explainer: the CSS, France’s free or low cost top-up health insurance
Read more: How do I get a free healthcare check-up in France?
How do I buy a hearing aid?
After a diagnosis of hearing loss, you will be offered the chance to buy a hearing aid by a doctor (usually the ENT specialist), who will give you a medical prescription for them.
It is possible to buy hearing aids without a prescription, but you will not be entitled to social security coverage, making them much more expensive.
The cost of hearing aids varies from around €950 - €3,000.
Is there help available to buy a hearing aid?
In recent years, France has made a push to cover more and more of the costs of dental, optical, and auditory health care under the “100% Santé” plan
Since 2020, the plan has divided hearing aids into two groups; class i hearing aids, which are subject to price caps and full coverage, and class ii, which are not subject to any price limit and see only limited coverage.
You must be offered at least one class i device amongst the recommended options when choosing an aid, as these are the devices that fall under the 100% Santé scheme.
The full cost of class i hearing aids are covered by a combination of social security, and either your mutuelle or complimentaire santé.
In some cases, however, you will have to pay upfront, and then receive the money via your insurance at a later date, sometimes up to six weeks after purchasing the aid.
Whilst some costs may be covered for class ii aids, they do not fall under the scheme and so levels of reimbursement will depend on coverage from your mutuelle.
Read more: Hearing aids free in France with 'mutuelle' top-up insurance
Is follow-up care available?
The specialist who sold you your hearing aid must book you three follow-up appointments in your first year of owning your hearing aids (on the third, sixth, and 12th months), and if you purchased your hearing aids under the 100% Santé scheme, these are included as part of the price of the device/s.
It is recommended after this that you have an appointment with your hearing specialist every other year, to check if the hearing aid is still benefiting you as much as possible.
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