The cochlear implant refers to a surgical procedure of embedding an electric device in the ear to improve the hearing capabilities of a patient. The device stimulates the cochlear nerves and helps the brain to identify sounds. The electric device is divided into two components, an internal and external part.
The external component, which is usually attached to the earlobes, is composed of the batteries and the microphone that process sound signals. Meanwhile, the internal component is implanted deep inside the ear with electrodes connecting to the cochlea and transmits signal from the external component to the brain.
Average Cochlear Implant Surgery Cost
The average cochlear implant cost is around $40,000 to $125,000 depending on some factors and insurance. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the listed price is about $40,000 including the device and post-surgery rehabilitation. Meanwhile, the Gift of Hearing Foundation Organization estimated that the average cost is around $75,000 to $125,000 depending on the health provider.
Shopping for Cochlear Implant
To find health providers, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Med-El have connections to the health centers and hospitals that can perform the implant. There are also foundations and organizations that can help eligible patients in finding an affordable cochlear implant provider. Health providers like Mayo clinic and Darius Kohan MD clinic charge about $60,834 to $68,512 and $75,000 respectively.
As a reminder, the repair and batteries of the device are considered as an additional recurring cost if not covered by the warranty. In some health providers, the activation of the device can also yield additional fees. Other factors that can affect the cost are the level of experience of the professionals, duration of the rehabilitation, facilities of the health centers, and the brand of the device.
Insurance and Grants
Insurance providers like Medicare, Veterans Administration, and TRICARE offer coverage to patients that are eligible. The insurance providers can either cover a full payment or partial payment of the surgery. In certain cases, 80% of the cochlear implant surgery expenses is covered by the insurance company while the remaining 20% will be paid by the policyholder. Another option is to go to foundations and organization that help low-income classes to avail a cochlear implant through grants and donations.
Eligibility for Surgery
The implant surgery is not suitable for everyone and the result varies from person to person. The eligible patients are those who are suffering from hearing loss, relying on lip movements to understand words, cannot distinguish sounds and no longer benefitting from hearing aids.
- Otologic Evaluation – to check for any infection or abnormalities in the ear canal.
- Physical Examination – basic screening for any allergy and possible side effects of drug induction for the surgery.
- Audiologic Evaluation – to determine the level of natural hearing capabilities without any hearing aids.
- X-ray Evaluation – conducting CT scan or MRI scan of the inner ear anatomy of the patient.
To assure the eligibility of the patient, set of tests are conducted to diagnose the extent of hearing loss and the overall patient’s health. The fee for the preliminary tests is usually included in the overall cochlear implant cost. It is also advisable if the implant can no longer improve the hearing capability of the patient, use the remainder of the natural hearing capabilities to avoid total hear loss.