INDEPENDENT NEWS

Bill could unravel ACC cover

Published: Wed 25 Nov 2009 05:07 PM
Age Concern New Zealand Media release 25 November 2009
Bill could unravel ACC cover –Age Concern
Proposed amendments to ACC legislation seek to exclude people with less than 6% damage to their hearing. If passed this could be the beginning of the end for minor injury cover, Age Concern New Zealand says.
"The proposal to refuse cover for ‘low levels’ of hearing loss completely contravenes the spirit of the scheme," Age Concern New Zealand says in a submission.
"This sets a precedent where ACC cover could in future depend on the degree of personal injury, rather than the cause of the injury", national president Liz Baxendine says.
"ACC doesn't distinguish between a claimant who sprains an ankle and the one who breaks a leg – both are covered. Why, then, make the distinction between a person with less than 6% noise or accident-induced hearing loss and the person with worse hearing loss? Has hearing loss been singled out simply because it can be measured more easily than other types of injury?
"This is a radical erosion of the principles of the scheme and is especially unfair to older people."
Older people already get less help with hearing claims, because ACC applies an age-based threshold.
If the proposed cuts are added on top, Age Concern suspects that some older people getting ACC help may suddenly find that they are no longer covered when they need to renew their hearing aids, and won't be able to afford replacements.
"Older people are especially affected because many worked in an era before health and safety – for example, ear protection – was taken seriously.
"They will have been let down by a scheme that promised them cover and support in case of injury," Liz Baxendine says.
ENDS

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