Paying for Cochlear Implants
Children are absolutely priceless. But unfortunately, the cost of raising a child has risen nearly 40% from a decade ago, according to CNN Money. Not including paying for college, the average two-parent, middle-income household spends $226,920 raising a child from birth until the age of 18. And that figure will only rise, especially in this turbulent economy with skyrocketing food prices.
Parents of children with special needs often struggle more than most to ensure that their children get the proper medical care and therapies that they need. When a child is born with severe hearing loss, his parents might consider cochlear implants (CI). But the cost of the surgery, the devices themselves, and the maintenance would leave your jaw dropping. Including the surgery and post-operative fees, the average cost of cochlear implants in the U.S. is $50,000 to $100,000, according to the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons. And that doesn’t include purchasing a warranty to cover the cost of replacement parts later on. Fortunately, there is help for low-income families who wish their child to have cochlear implants.
FDA-approved cochlear implants are now a recognized medical treatment. This means that most insurance companies do pay for them. Review your family’s health insurance policy to determine whether it will cover the surgery, the device, and the post-operative costs. When in doubt, contact your insurance company and request that they send you a notice that states whether the surgery and all other costs will be covered, whether a deductible applies, and whether there will be a co-payment. Always get this information in writing.
If your healthcare plan denies CI coverage, but you believe that your policy does cover CI, ask the insurance company to provide you with a written denial. If any language in the denial notice is unclear, ask for clarification. Follow your insurance company’s procedures for appealing the denial. Address any points brought up in the denial notice. Ask the hospital or cochlear implant center for help appealing the denial. You might also reach out to advocacy groups for assistance.
Medicare & Medicaid
Medicare also covers CI, and your disabled child might be eligible for Medicare. Medicaid coverage differs from state to state. Your state’s Medicaid program representative can tell you if coverage is an option. Your child’s audiologist or cochlear implant center should also have this information.
If health coverage is not available for your child’s cochlear implant surgery, reach out to a charitable organization. There are a surprisingly large number of organizations that help families with Deaf children pay for cochlear implants. Your cochlear implant center should be able to help you locate a local or national organization, or you can contact the groups on the list below.
You might have access to a state-specific organization like South Dakota’s Cochlear Implant Program. This program is administered by the Department of Human Services. It provides funding for uninsured families. It also assists families who are underinsured, or those who struggle to pay the deductible or co-payment.
The Colorado Neurological Institute in Englewood, Colorado, also offers assistance. While they do not cover the full cost of cochlear implants, if your child is accepted into the program, they will lower the costs significantly.
The Lions Club has offered resources for the hearing impaired and the blind for over 100 years. It is a highly reputable organization. Check out the club locator tool on their website to find a local branch.
The Gift of Hearing Foundation was started by a late-deafened adult who strives to increase access to cochlear implants.
The Let Them Hear Foundation offers clinical services for prospective and current cochlear implant patients.
Help Me Hear Foundation
The Help Me Hear Foundation’s mission is to raise funds to provide cochlear implants for disadvantaged children. They stress the importance of children developing speech and language at a typical rate for their age groups.