Access to cochlear implants to aid people with hearing problems grew in the first decade of the 21st century in the U.S. because of federal regulation and the realization that implants can reduce the long-term costs of medical care. Used worldwide, the cost of a cochlear implant is split into three areas, including preoperative, surgical, and postoperative costs. Postoperative costs can vary due to the age of the recipient with younger recipients often requiring more education on the postoperative use of an implant. Some medical insurances cover the majority of costs associated with installing an implant.
Computerized tomography, or CT scans, are usually completed on the proposed recipient of the cochlear implant during the preoperative phase. The cost of a cochlear implant during this phase also includes the evaluation of the recipient by medical staff, which can include a trial of hearing aids. These costs are accumulated as the recipient prepares for the hardware to be implanted.
Surgical costs are incurred during the process of inserting the cochlear implant to aid in the hearing of the recipient. The fees charged by physicians during the surgical phase increase the cost of a cochlear implant and are accompanied by the cost of supplies used during the operation. During this phase, the cost of the actual implant is also charged to the recipient and/or his or her medical insurance company.
Once the surgical phase of the cochlear implant is completed, each recipient is assisted with his or her education and acclimatization towards using the implant successfully. The cost of a cochlear implant during the postoperative phase includes the activation and programming of the device, which can require between five and six visits to technicians over the first three months of the implant installation. Therapy can also be required to help the implant recipient to adjust to life.
Cochlear implants do not repair the hearing of an individual who receives an implant. The hardware bypasses the damaged hairs within the ear of the recipient, providing the perception of hearing. Each piece of hardware is usually guaranteed for three years to reduce the costs of repairing damaged hardware, but warranties do not cover items such as external cables and batteries that may need replacing at regular intervals. Insurance can be obtained for an annual premium that will cover the cost of a cochlear implant requiring repair or annual maintenance.