Cochlear Implant Cost
Cochlear implants are costly because it's highly specialised surgery undertaken. The operation is risky as it takes place inside the skull, electrode placement requires precise skills, new precision techniques mean residual hearing preservation. Alongside this, there is a need to be careful about causing damage or infection.
But, there are those individuals who part with their well-earned cash for their Cochlear Implant operation and processor. There are three reasons that this might happen:-
1) Resident country support for Cochlear Implant provision is lacking
Some countries don’t have a Cochlear Implant scheme at all. It means that the individual pays for their Cochlear Implant operation overseas.
Some countries do have a Cochlear Implant scheme, but the health service and insurance schemes are insufficient in terms of funding.
2) A second Cochlear Implant requires payment
Many countries will request that the individual pays for their second Cochlear Implant. For example, I have been thinking of getting another Cochlear Implant for my left ear. I am UK (United Kingdom) based, and I would have to pay for this.
3) The waiting game
In some countries, waiting lists are incredibly high. The wait for a Cochlear Implant is several years. An individual can either wait or pay for the operation themselves.
Doing the research
I did my research on UK costs, and I was disappointed to learn as to how much I would have to pay. Undoubtedly, I'd take a hit financially. It’s approximately £40,000 (52,100 US dollars.)
It occurred to me that I could research funding options available to me in the UK and also look at Cochlear Implant costs in other countries. I am not averse to travelling, and it could be a real opportunity to visit another country and have surgery at the same time! I could kill two birds with one stone as the saying goes.
This article aims to help individuals in the planning process of paying for a Cochlear Implant themselves.
They may be thinking of parting with their hard earned cash for a Cochlear Implant operation in their resident country.
They may be thinking of travelling to another country for a Cochlear Implant operation to save costs.
The article also gives readers an insight into the differences in Cochlear Implant cost per country.
The first step to a Cochlear Implant is candidacy
Check our candidacy information to learn if you meet the criteria for a Cochlear Implant. Alongside this, it’s useful to have a copy of a recent audiogram. If you’re considering having a Cochlear Implant operation overseas, for example, you will be asked for a copy of this.
Research potential surgeons, locations and costs
Starting new discussion threads on Reddit and Quora about potential surgeons, locations and costs can help in collating useful research information. Beware of any possible scams. Facebook also has many valuable groups around Cochlear Implants and hearing loss.
Towards the end of this article, there are Cochlear Implant costs per country. These can also help in your research findings.
Research funding opportunities
A reader kindly pointed out to me that in the UK there could be a way to cut costs in getting a second Cochlear Implant. One option would be to find a charity that would support my application to go bilateral. Charities can negotiate with the hospital and surgeon to get a better price.
Also, supportive employers can sometimes have a benevolent fund in place. It can sometimes be used to contribute to the cost of a Cochlear Implant. It’s worth investigating this further with your employer.
It’s likely that, should I go bilateral, the National Health Service in the UK will not fund new batteries, spare parts, extra accessories and any updates to the equipment. Once again, a charity might be helpful in the negotiating process to save costs.
This research approach is worth applying to your resident country.
Start a dialogue
Following research, you can then start a dialogue with a hospital and surgeon that you are considering. They are usually easily contactable by email.
If you’re considering a Cochlear Implant overseas, you can determine whether communication with the consultant of your choice is adequate. For example, if you are English speaking, it’s essential to have a consultant who speaks English.
Ask for an estimated breakdown of costs
I’ve had access to a useful breakdown of what costs are factored in for a Cochlear Implant operation (one implant), as below:-
MR of the brain pre and post contrast
Cath Surflo IV SROX225
Gadovist profiled syringe 7.5ml
Cochlear device implantation, with or without mastoidectomy
Premium processor Cochlear Implant & Sound Processor
Cochlear Implant surgery
Blood Pressure Control
Exploration of the facial nerve: Exploration of the tympanomastiod segment
Local skin flaps (large, complicated)
Please note every process is different so that this list will vary. Getting an initial breakdown of costs can be really helpful in determining affordibility.
If you’re working, have a dialogue with your employer
It’s essential to have a supportive work environment before embarking on a Cochlear Implant journey. It’s worth having a dialogue with your employer in the early stages of planning to determine whether what options they can offer. For example, they can provide special leave or will they insist that you use your annual leave?
The initial meeting with the surgeon
You will want this visit to be as productive as possible. It’s likely that the surgeon you’ve chosen is well prepared for your visit. The surgeon’s support team should:-
Instruct their regular audiologist to do a test. Yes, you’ve already emailed all your previous audiograms. But, they will need to see the level of your hearing for themselves.
Have an appointment in place for you to meet your surgeon. You usually only meet the surgeon should you fail the hearing test. He/she will give the go-ahead on an MRI and will do a detailed Cochlear Implant evaluation. The evaluation process is to help ensure that candidates have a thorough understanding of the process of implanting a cochlear device and a realistic expectation of what Cochlear Implants can do. Before the evaluation, patients usually will receive a questionnaire about expectations, attitudes and auditory awareness. You will also undergo a physical examination and review of your medical history to ensure your candidacy for surgery. Depending on your needs, additional tests may be required to evaluate hearing loss and balance.
If your Cochlear Implant operation is to take place overseas, you will need to ask:-
How many journeys, approximately, will you need to make? For example, a friend of mine did six visits by plane to their chosen country for tests and mapping after their operation. Their resident country had no Cochlear Implant scheme in place.
How long after the operation will it be before you can fly again?
What are your accommodation options? Sometimes a hospital will offer free accommodation.
What happens if your Cochlear Implant processor breaks down? Is there a replacement postage scheme?
Should you opt to have your Cochlear Implant operation overseas, you will also need to check what support is available in your resident country. For example:-
Will my medical insurance in my resident country pay for any costs associated with my Cochlear Implant overseas?
Can the mapping process be done in your resident country after the operation? Is there a cost?
Is the support and maintenance of your processor provided in your resident country? Is there a cost?
After this initial meeting, the wheels will then be in motion. You will have a surgery date.
As well as the first meeting, it’s essential to meet a representative from each Cochlear Implant manufacturer. You should be thinking of what they can offer you as follows:-
The warranty scheme. If you’re offered a non-resident (foreigner) Cochlear Implant warranty, its very likely that such a plan only covers the internal parts of your processor. It’s therefore important to negotiate for a resident warranty which hopefully covers loss of the processor!
Rechargeable batteries. It will undoubtedly work out cheaper to have these kinds of batteries. Purchasing batteries for a Cochlear Implant can be expensive.
Free additional equipment which can help enhance your Cochlear Implant experience. For example, Bluetooth microphones and aqua kits for underwater activities.
Special discounts and deals. Companies do offer bundled package and deals. These can include three months of mapping and testing after the operation. Try and get the best package and deal possible.
Get that final costing!
A friend of mine recently had their Cochlear Implant operation. They assumed all costs were covered. But, then some extra costs appeared after surgery! So, please heed caution.
Let’s assume you’ve met with a Cochlear Implant surgeon at your chosen location and hospital. You’ve also met with all Cochlear Implant manufacturers. It’s important now to ask for an invoice before moving forward. Ask for a comprehensive cost breakdown. Have a discussion so that you know it’s a final invoice. If you’re in agreement with this and you feel comfortable with your surgeon, manufacturer and hospital of choice, you’re now ready to go ahead.
My next steps
My research has encouraged me to pursue the idea further of potential funding opportunities in the UK. I will approach a charity to see if they are supportive of my application to go bilateral. Should this be cost effective then I would consider having my surgery in the UK.
An alternative option would be to have a Cochlear Implant operation overseas. I work remotely and have a supportive employer. I know what questions to ask. I am not scared to try new things. I most certainly am not averse to travelling.
From my costings per country research below, India seems to be the most cost-effective place for me to have my second Cochlear Implant operation. I travel to South East Asia regularly so it’s not a problem for me to get to India.
It’s also reassuring to know that in 2016, The Times of India reported that the Nair Hospital at Mumbai Central, Maharashtra state had performed its 100th cochlear implant surgery. The Indian Prime Minister’s and Chief Minister’s Relief Funds, set up to assist people in need, have helped local hospitals to raise funds over the past nine years to buy Cochlear Implants. Other trusts, including the Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) and Being Human - The Salman Khan Foundation, have also provided significant contributions. Source: Audiology Worldnews. This news report suggests to me that Cochlear Implant surgeons in India have experience and knowledge. It’s three years since this report so the number of operations will undoubtedly have increased.
I would also consider Poland as a potential destination for my second Cochlear Implant operation. The price looks reasonable, and it’s not too far from the UK.
cochlear implant costs per country
In producing Cochlear Implant costings below, I have collected the cost information per country through internet research, Facebook forums and by approaching hospitals directly.
Some of my country research generated additional information which is useful to know. I have included this.
I would welcome any feedback and new information.
I have not included all the countries in the world. If you know your country's Cochlear Implant costs, please do contact me.
All cost calculations are approximate. If you think the cost calculations are wrong for your country, please do tell me.
This article has continuous updates with new costings and additions.
I have focused on a total cost which includes the cost of surgery and the cost of one Cochlear Implant processor. Prices are in American dollars.
Thank you to those of you have provided me with your country's Cochlear Implant costings and let’s start with:-
22,000 US dollars
Children and teenagers under the age of 26 can go bilateral for free. Adults are entitled to one Cochlear Implant, free, with a waiting period once approved.
If adults want a second implant, they take out an insurance policy for twelve months as that is the waiting period for pre-existing conditions. The cost would be approximately 780 US dollars for twelve months premiums and 325 US dollars for excess. The total cost of the second Cochlear Implant is then 1,105 US dollars.
11,500 US dollars
20,000 to 30,000 US dollars
Private health insurance covers the surgery itself and all other costs related to Cochlear Implants. Those that can’t afford private health insurance can have the surgery through the public healthcare system at no cost.
18,000 US dollars
One implant only. Surgery is covered by the Bulgarian NHS (National Health Service.) This doesn't include maintenance costs or disposable batteries.
36,000 US dollars
OHIP (Ontario health insurance plan) pays for one, and you can get a second privately, or with specific limited medical reasons for a second. They pay for two for children. There's an assistance program for getting an upgrade for processors. It's likely that you will have to pay for your batteries.
When it comes to funding and processes, it also varies from province to province which can make it complicated. Wait times, as well, especially for adults could be a year or two in some cases.
24,000 to 30,000 US dollars
The first Cochlear Implant is free if you are enrolled to social security. The second one is out of your pocket. The cost includes the mappings and speech therapy, if needed, for a year. Depending on the brand, there is variation in cost. For example, the Kanso is more expensive than the Cochlear Nucleus 7.
32,000 US dollars
22,000 US dollars for Nucleus and Kanso
11,500 US dollars for Advanced Bionics
26,000 - 29,000 US dollars
One implant only. The Italian National Health Service (NHS) covers the cost of surgery and also the cost of disposable batteries and coil but doesn't include the cost of accessories such as rechargeable batteries.
33,000 US dollars
Please see article on: Calls to increase funding for cochlear implants as hundreds wait for surgery in New Zealand
10,000 to 26,000 US dollars
Hospital Bills range from 4,000 US dollars to 5,000 US dollars for an overnight stay.
Medel and Cochlear (latest is Kanso and N6 only) available.
34,000 US dollars.
If you have Polish residency, then the Health Service can fund the cost of bilateral implants for both adults and children.
28,000 US dollars.
The South African Journal of Communication Disorders wrote an excellent article on Cochlear Implant funding streams. It was published in 2012 but is still relevant today.
42,000 dollars - 49,000 US dollars
UNITED KINGDOM (UK)
52,500 US dollars
The UK national health service funds bilateral implants for children. It funds one Cochlear Implant per adult. Free mapping, support and maintenance costs are applicable.
United States of America (USA)
100,000 US dollars
If you have insurance, then this can help cover costs. There may be additional costs depending on your health insurance plan. You can get both ears done in the US, paid for by insurance.
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