Thursday, July 12, 2012

What is the cost of hearing?

Advanced Bionics is the only company that offers two types of sound processors.  I have one of each.  The most commonly seen is the BTE(behind the ear) Harmony Processor. 

  It comes in many colors, has two sizes of rechargeable batteries, is mostly automatic but has several manual controls, and has two microphones, one called a TMic that is placed directly in the ear opening and gives optimal sound quality. 

 This processor and it's many accessories comes in a large kit. The total cost for this part of my hearing journey is $8,910.

 The second processor I have is a Neptune, only recently available in the U.S.  This is the world's only water proof swimmable sound processor.  It is designed for use both in and out of the water.  It runs on one AAA rechargeable battery and can be worn anywhere on the body. 

 This means nothing is worn on the ear.  There are many advantages to having both types of processor.  The Neptune also comes with many accessories for a cost of $8,415.

The actual implant, which I had surgically placed on June 23, has 16 electrodes that were threaded into the cochlea of my inner ear.  Click on the picture above to enlarge it.

   It is these electrodes that send electrical signals to the hearing nerve, thus replacing the damaged part of my cochlea. This internal implant is fully up-gradeable, enabling my hearing to advance as future technology does--without the need for more surgery. 

 The hospital charge for this surgery and wonderful technology is $112,000.  Two anesthesiologists at $858 each and the surgeon at $99,999.99 round out the bill-- fully covered by our Medicare System along with the kits above and all related audiologist appointments.  The cost of future software and hardware improvements is unknown.  I have no immediate plans for implanting my other(left) ear.  If I do so, these costs will be repeated.  Can you hear me now?

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