Over the next few days, I'll be filling in the below blanks…


Musician's Earplugs

Hearing Aids

Phonak Naida V UP

  • COST:

Phonak Naida ML10i

  • COST:

Phonak iCom

  • COST:
  • COST:

Phonak Supero 413AZ

  • COST:

Audio Boots

  • COST:

Starkey DaVinci

  • COST:

Audio Boots

  • COST:

Starkey ELI

  • COST: $300

Cochlear Implants

General Info

Cochlear implants are essentially a bionic, or implanted, prosthetic substitute for hearing aids, which help the profoundly hearing impaired (ie: deaf) hear when regular hearing aids can no longer assist. They are a technology which has been in use since 1969, and FDA-approved since 1984 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant ). As a mature technology, with well-established FDA guidelines for use, cochlear implants are the only technology which exists to help the profoundly hearing impaired/deaf hear.

Each implant can cost upwards of $80,000, and one is needed for each ear in order to provide the greatest benefit for the patient, many do not have the resources for such essential and expensive medical treatment, so they depend on insurance and government assistance.

Many insurance companies only provide coverage for one ear, under the guise that two (ie: bilateral) implants are an experimental procedure. This is akin to telling someone who needs a hip replacement that they'll only have one hip, instead of two, replaced. Bilateral cochlear implantation has been an accepted, mainstreamed medical practice since 1998. Over 3,000 implantations have been performed, including over 1,600 on children. (source: http://advocacy.letthemhear.org/research.php ).

Bilateral implants have proven to provide a greater quality of life for thousands, by enabling improved verbal/auditory communication over monaural implants, and by giving the ability of sound localization, and greatly improved speech recognition - things people with normal hearing take for granted.

I have a profound hearing loss; a congenital sensorineural loss that was “steady” between 60-70dB (moderate loss category) for roughly 15 years prior to around August of 2006, when it suddenly dropped. In Feburary of 2007 it dropped again (to a 95dB bilateral loss), placing me now in the “profound loss” category (the most severe ranking possible, before simply being branded “deaf”).

Bilateral (two ear) implants are critical for folks like me; while cochlear implants are a mature technology which has been around for over three decades, they're still imperfect. Modern implants have at most 24 electrodes to replace the 16,000 delicate hair cells that are used for normal hearing, and the “sound” of human voices perceived through implants has been compared to robotic voices with laryngitis. Given such “limited” capabilities, bilateral implants would be critical for some folks to restore a reasonable level of speech comprehension; a capability essential for functioning in the “hearing world”.

SB 491

Back in early 2007, I found myself testifying before an Oregon State Senate Committee regarding a bill branded as SB 491. A bill “Relating to insurance coverage of bilateral cochlear implants; creating new provisions; and amending ORS 750.055 and 750.333”.

SB491 would require “…health insurers that provide coverage for cochlear implants to provide coverage of bilateral cochlear implants…”.


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