Cochlear implants are most commonly worn by those with permanent and severe deafness who cannot hear all speech sounds with a regular hearing aid. Instead of making sounds and noises louder like a standard hearing aid, cochlear implants work to stimulate the auditory nerve by using electrical signals from sound.
There are two parts to a cochlear implant: one part that is worn like a standard hearing aid, and the other that is surgically implanted.
Due to the complexities of cochlear implants, including the surgery, consultations, fittings, and insurance, the costs of having a cochlear implant are unfortunately high. If you are looking to invest in a cochlear implant for yourself, your child, a family member, or a friend, you’re probably wondering “How much does cochlear implants cost?”. Here is everything you need to know about how much cochlear implants cost and what the money is spent on.
How Much Does Cochlear Implants Cost?
As the surgery, implantation, consultations both before and after the procedure, cochlear implants can cost anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 without insurance. As hearing aids generally range from $1,800 to $6,800, it’s clear that cochlear implants are certainly the most expensive hearing aid available.
It’s understandable that most people are overwhelmed by these average figures for cochlear implants. Not everybody has the funds to justify health insurance, but not everyone has $30,000-50,000 spare to pay for such vital hearing aids.
Why Do Cochlear Implants Cost So Much?
There are several reasons why cochlear implants cost so much. These include:
- Pre-implant consultations and evaluations
- The surgery itself
- Activation of the device and follow-up surgery
- Rehabilitation post-surgery
Interestingly, $30,000-50,000 for cochlear implants is considered one of the most cost-effective medical procedures in the United States. If you think about it, this much money is far less than having to spend over $1 million on a lifetime of language development and other treatments for a deaf child. Because of this, cochlear implants are considered a worthy investment.
What’s Included in the Cost of Cochlear Implants?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the cost of cochlear implants isn’t just the surgical procedure itself. Instead, the average cost of $30,000-50,000 for cochlear implants covers an array of appointments, fittings, activations, and rehabilitation. The surgery takes up the biggest bulk of the costs.
Here is what is included in the typical cost of cochlear implants. Of course, other costs may be included depending on the individual’s needs and other health issues.
Patients will have to go to 3-4 appointments before they are fitted with cochlear implants. Generally speaking, pre-surgery appointments cost $450 on average for children and $216 for adults. These appointments are essential prior to the surgery, because they allow doctors to evaluate the patient’s hearing, language, and speech capabilities. It will also include a CT scan.
One of the appointments will provide the user a tutorial on how to use the implant and what post-surgery rehabilitation will look like.
Patients will have to go back to the hospital at least five times in the first year after the surgery to reprogram the cochlea implants. This is to ensure everything is working properly. For kids, this can cost anywhere from $102 to $397, while adults can expect to pay between $88 to $525 per visit.
As well as the post-surgery reprogramming visits, patients will also have to pay several hundred dollars to have post-surgery visits. These visits are to make sure everything is healing as it should, plus patients might have sessions with a speech and language therapist to help the patient get used to hearing with their new cochlear implant.
Patients are also accountable for the cost of external pieces of the cochlear implants, including a transmitter and speech processor. These external pieces are not included in the cost of the surgery. The transmitter can cost $74-100, which works to send the signals to the implanted device lying under the skin.
The speech processor costs between $6,700-9,000, which works to analyze the sounds that are then sent as signals to the transmitter. Both of these parts are essential to the implant, and they are the most visible parts as they sit on the ear like a regular hearing aid.
Other additional costs include battery replacements and optional extended warranties. Standard AA batteries or hearing aid batteries cost anywhere from $0.27-3.95 each. While optional, it is recommended to invest in an extended warranty, which costs around $300 to $400 per year.
This warranty will provide you with insurance in the event that the cochlear implant is damaged. A cochlear implant that needs repairing or maintenance without an extended warranty can often cost the same amount as the original procedure.
While cochlear implants can cost between $30,000-50,000 without insurance, some insurance companies can cover the entire cost of the cochlear implants. In the United States, the average deductible is $350 for individuals and $1,100 for families.
Each insurance plan will vary when it comes to how much it can cover, but most major insurance companies like Medicare and Medicaid can cover all the costs.
If we consider the total cost of cochlear implants including therapy and post-surgery visits, cochlear implants can range anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 for those who don’t have health insurance. For those with health insurance, this figure will be deducted to between $1,000-50,000 depending on additional expenditures and maintenance.
If you’re wondering where all this money goes, the total cost includes the price of the implant, the surgery, operating room medication and supplies, anesthesiologist fees, physician’s fees, and recovery medication.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this guide will give you an idea of the expected cost of cochlear implants both with and without insurance. We highly recommend seeking health insurance and ensuring that your insurance plan can cover the costs.