This is supposed to be a blog about hearing loss and cochlear implants, isn't it? I nearly forgot.
I've had my CI processor for just a month under 6 years now, and it's starting to show serious signs of wear.
A small piece of plastic chipped off the spot where the headpiece wire goes into the processor proper; and now the wire slips and I have to push it back in once or twice a day. When that happens, I lose sound until the wire is securely repositioned. ("Why aren't they made of titanium?" Husband frowned. It'd make them prohibitively expensive, I suppose.) The finish on the side that rubs against my glasses is all rubbed away, but that's merely cosmetic. What really worries me is that if that spot on the processor cracks further, the wire may not stay attached at all. (I shall have to use teeny, tiny pieces of duct tape, I suppose.) All of this has made ordering a replacement a priority.
And oh! what jolly good fun that has been. It makes choosing a cell phone plan or researching a new car look like child's play. The first one was paid for fully by Medicare (yay Canada) and the team at the NSHSC ordered it for me. This time I have spent a dizzying amount of time researching things. (Although I wouldn't say I've been "on my own". My audiologist at the NSHSC has been incredibly helpful.)
How much will the new kit (including processor, headpiece, battery charger, and 4 batteries) cost?
(Thank god for the strong Canadian dollar. A price list I have from 2009 from the Canadian agent for Advanced Bionics lists it at around $8000CAD.)
What, if anything, will Medicare contribute? (Nothing.) What, if anything, will my Blue Cross insurance (which covers things that Medicare doesn't, like glasses and dental and prescriptions) cover? ($640. They classify it with hearing aids). Will I be able to claim a portion of it back on my taxes next year? (Yes, although how much I'm still investigating.)
I recognize that because of public health care, Canadians tend to have a bit of a sense of entitlement about medical cost coverage. Why do I have to pay for this? It's a medical expense! Shouldn't the government pay for this?
Well, no. The whole point of the public health care model is that we all pay in through our taxes, and we all access health care without up-front payment as we need it. That model isn't sustainable if we pay for everything health-related, for everyone, in all circumstances, all the time. I've already mentioned that some optical, dental, and prescription costs aren't covered (although it's important to note that these things are covered by government for people on Social Assistance or Disability). Neither are replacement cochlear implant processors, and lots of other prosthetics and devices in certain circumstances.
The cost is daunting, but the bottom line is that we are people who are able to absorb the cost, grumbling aside. And it goes without saying that it is an absolute necessity for my employment and my relationships and my life.
Anyway, when I do order, I'll be upgrading to a new processor which is supposed to have superior sound mapping and which - supposedly - processes music even better.
So it's a hit, but to quote a friend of mine "it's a happy kind of pain".
Labels: cochlear implants