Where to Find Financial Support for Wigs in Australia

When hair loss occurs, we know it can impact your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence.

One of the most common ways of combatting the physical, emotional, and mental impact of alopecia areata is to purchase a wig. By giving the outward appearance of a full head of hair, they can boost confidence, help avoid awkward questions, and even protect the skin from the elements.

But wigs in Australia are costly. They can cost anywhere from $80 to thousands of dollars, plus the additional 10% goods and services tax (which can add up to quite a bit depending on the cost of the wig). Depending on how well they’re taken care of, a wig can last as little as 5 months to as long as 5 years, but eventually, they need to be replaced.

Those costs mean that there’s a great segment of the alopecia areata community that cannot access this potentially life-changing medical device. With all of the challenges individual’s with alopecia areata already face, paying for a wig shouldn’t be one of them. The good news is, there is financial support available.

Tax Rebates and Subsidies

For adults requiring a wig, there are government-sponsored programs that can help you cover the costs in the form of rebates and subsidies.

Most individuals will qualify for a tax rebate on their wig under the Taxation Ruling TR93/34. Section 159P of this ruling allows for tax rebates on net medical expenses. Those expenses include the cost of medical or surgical appliances that are prescribed by a qualified medical professional, such as a medical or surgical wig. Individuals are entitled to a rebate for net medical expenses that exceed $1,000.

There are also a number of state subsidies available, depending on the state in which you live:

  • New South Wales (NSW) offers eligible candidates assistive technology like wigs through the Enable NSW program. 
  • Victoria (VIC) provides subsidized aids and equipment through the State-Wide Equipment Program (SWEP).
  • Tasmania (TAS) has financial assistance available for patients of alopecia who have a DHA Pensioner Concession Card or DHA Health Care Card and are referred by a doctor.
  • South Australia (SA) supplies wigs or contributes toward the purchase of wigs for eligible clients under the Department for Families and Communities (DFC) Equipment Program.

Each of these programs has their own eligibility requirements, often depending on what kind of wig you’re looking for and your financial situation. Program requirements and benefits will differ from state to state, and Western Australia (WA), Queensland (QLD), Northern Territory (NT), and Australia Capital Territory (ACT) don’t provide any such service.

Private Health Insurance

If you have a Health Fund provider, you may be eligible for assistance through your extra coverage.  The provisions under an extra coverage policy may allow the policy holder to file an insurance claim to cover the full or partial cost of a cranial prothesis. Typically, this only applies to individuals who have lost their hair due to medical reasons such as chemotherapy, trichotillomania, or alopecia.

While some health insurance policies require the policy holder to pay for their prothesis and then reimburse them, others will provide you with the money prior to your purchase. The availability of this form of financial assistance varies according to provider, so you’ll have to check with your Health Fund to find out if you can make a claim. Look for a list of Health Fund providers on the Private Health Insurance Ombudsmen’s website.

Financial Support for Children

Wigs for kids grant

Alopecia often presents itself in childhood. When it presents during this important period of self-discovery and socialization, it can cause confusion, fear, and a sense of isolation from peers. This is why ensuring children with alopecia can access wigs is incredibly important work.

There are a number of grant programs that children with alopecia may be eligible for. For example, the AAAF’s Wigs for Kids grant program is available to children under the age of 17 who have alopecia areata.  On top of financial assistance, this program provides all of the information, service, and support that any child who wishes to wear a wig could possibly need.

Low Cost Wigs

In addition to the financial support options listed above, there are also a number of places to find low cost wigs that are more affordable. 

In keeping with their commitment to improve the lives of people with alopecia areata, the AAAF offers a range of synthetic wigs and they keep the cost of these wigs exceedingly low. Indeed, they’re usually sold for well below cost price and they even offer free shipping. Eligible candidates can use these when they’re new to the world of wigs and looking to try some options that are right for them.

Individual wig suppliers all have their own approach when it comes to discounts and payments, but it’s not unheard of to find a wig provider who is willing to arrange a payment plan. There are also a number of wig suppliers that participate in a voucher program approved by the Public Hospital System. You can talk to a nurse or doctor to find out if your hospital has vouchers and check online to see what suppliers in your area qualify. 

More Help with Wigs

A beautiful wig can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, putting them out of reach for a significant portion of the alopecia community. But there is financial support available, if you just know where to look. Consider applying for tax rebates, state subsidies, and grant programs, or looking for low cost wigs to offset the financial burden that wigs can represent.

And for more information and help with wigs, be sure to check out the AAAF wig resources page.

Wigs 101

Have you been wondering how to choose the best wig for you? Do you need to know how to care for your new, beautiful wig? Not sure which type or style of wig is best for you? Are you wondering if you will be able to do all your favorite hairstyles in your new wig? You might be thinking “can you put a wig up in a ponytail?” or, “can I wear my glasses with my wig?”

Wigs can be a very valuable tool in managing our alopecia journey. But choosing the right wig, learning how to care for it and style it, and understanding how a wig will fit into your lifestyle can make this process difficult. 

We’ve created this series of videos to address some of these issues, and hopefully, give you the tools to find the best option for you. Check out these videos, and if you have questions, let us know in the comments!

Wigs – Where to start?

Choosing the right wig for you is a very personal decision. If you’ve never shopped for wigs before, it can also be overwhelming or stressful. But it doesn’t need to be. This guide is here to help you understand your options before you get stared.

Questions to Consider

Which wig will be best for you depends on your lifestyle and your preferences. We recommend doing some research and deciding what your priorities are before you get started. Here are some questions to think about:

  • What’s your budget? Costs of wigs can be very varied.
  • How soon do you want or need your new wig? Custom wigs are made to order, and therefore take more time to make. Some can take well over a year, so understand what to expect and what you need.
  • Do you need your hairpiece to stay on during sport or physical activity?
  • Do you want one style that you stick with for a long time, or would you rather mix and match your look?
  • Are you able to take care of the hairpiece? Kids are especially prone to bring rough on their wigs, which can shorten the lifespan of the wig. Factor this into your budgetary decisions.
  • Do you want to sleep in your wig? Sleeping in wigs can shorten their lifespan, so it’s not usually recommend. If you feel you need to sleep in a wig, be aware that it may need replacing much sooner, and factor that replacement cost into your budget.
  • Is it really hot or humid where you live? Some styles of wig breathe more than others, and shorter hair styles can feel lighter on your neck.
Continue reading “Wigs – Where to start?”

Alopecia Travel Tips

Whether you’re hitting the snowy slopes or heading north to escape the winter chill, this time of year is amazing for travel. But travelling with Alopecia Areata can have some new complications and considerations.

We reached out to our Alopecia Support Groups for their best travel tips and advice to create this infographic. We had some amazing ideas and suggestions, and some stories of travel successes and challenges.

Click here to view the full-size infographic

Continue reading “Alopecia Travel Tips”

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