After the Warranty Expires


By Elyse Graves, OH H&V

The other day I spent a few hours researching the best way to get new parts for my daughter’s implant.  Lauren will turn seven next month and has used a cochlear implant since shortly after her third birthday.   Her implant is well worn and none of the external parts are original anymore.  For the first three years the external parts were under warranty and getting replacements was easy.  I would call the implant company and within a day or two the part would arrive on my doorstep.  We had a second processor so that Lauren never went without one, plus she still uses a hearing aid for her other ear. We’ve been lucky for the past year and have had no problems; but parts were starting to be past well worn.  We have had the original rechargeable batteries for nearly four years and they still work with only an occasional mischarge, but now each has a tip broken.  The controller (the part the battery slides into) is cracked.  It is not damaged enough for the implant not to work but it’s only a matter of time for these things to fail.

I had clearly been putting off the inevitable time for dealing with replacing parts when the craziness of everyday life caught up with me and I lost one of the processors. No need for details; they are routine. Just say I picked Lauren up from childcare and she had taken the processor off so I put it in my pocket

(I can hear my audiology friends groaning) and then I ran some errands.  By the time we got home it was not in my pocket. I retraced my steps like a mad woman, but no luck. 

I took this as a sign to get my act together.  I called the implant center who contacted my medical insurance and I contacted the implant company.  Everyone was helpful.  However, anyone who has ever dealt with insurance knows how confusing and frustrating it can be.  After several calls and online chats to all parties this is what I found. 

  1. In network: through the implant center (hospital)
    Battery:  $860 not covered (this was expected- I think this is 2 batteries and the charger)
    Controller: $2344 (with hospital mark up)
    Our deductible: $250 plus 10%
    With a insurance cap of $1000 a year
  2. Out of Network: purchasing straight from the implant company
    Battery: $195 not covered (one rechargeable battery)
    Controller: $1500
    Our deductible: $500 plus 30%
    With a insurance cap of $1000 a year
  3. Implant Company Service Plan
    Battery: $195 not covered
    Controller, Processor, coil all covered
    $625 a year or $58 a month
    For $885 a year or $82 a month they will also cover lost implants (one every 3 years)

My head was swimming (with the math alone), I was mentally tired and fairly frustrated and then I remembered another item on the list:

Lauren’s amazing ability to communicate with the world around her: Absolutely Priceless!

Editor’s note: For a review of all three implant companies’ services for out of warranty equipment, see Liesel Thomas’ article “What To Do After the Warranty Expires” at

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