Cochlear Implant Considerations

At some point, many individuals, suffering from severe to profound hearing loss, opt to exchange their hearing aids for cochlear implants, a momentous decision. When making such a choice one must consider what is involved: a pre-surgical evaluation, choosing an implant and peripheral devices, the risks of the surgical procedure, the time it takes to recover and go through rehabilitation, and the cost.

Cochlear implants carry a hefty price tag: between fifty and one hundred thousand dollars. Many private insurers cover the expenses related to the implant, peripheral devices, the surgical procedure, and rehabilitation. However, there is usually a high co-pay. Further, insurance providers have specific criteria that one must meet before qualifying for an implant, which are usually outlined in the plan and determined by a qualified audiologist.

Medicare has been covering cochlear implants since 1986. I visited my audiologist not long ago, and he tells me that Medicare has changed their qualifying rules for cochlear implants. After performing my annual hearing test, he said that my hearing loss, though profound, might not meet the new Medicare rules largely because my hearing aids are helping me achieve Medicare’s definition of what constitutes good hearing. Just two years ago, I was told that Medicare would cover my surgery completely.

Medicare recipients generally do not have a co-pay, however one may still have out-of-pocket costs depending on the type of supplemental insurance they carry, whether or not they’ve meant their annual deductibles, and the number of peripheral devices they choose.

The website lists the criteria a patient must meet before receiving a cochlear implant. The language is vague and difficult to understand. As with private insurance, one might need the help of a cochlear implant specialist to help determine qualifications, coverage, and co-pays.

Deciding whether or not a cochlear implant is right for you is a huge decision. One must consider the time involved for evaluation, the surgical risks, that there will be no hearing in their operative ear for two to three weeks and a commitment of a six month rehabilitation period.

While meandering through the hearing world, we become aware of our need to hear. In order to work, conduct business, and socialize with family and friends, we must determine the best and affordable technological options to help us hear and enjoy our lives.


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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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