Cochlear implant funding should be based on need

It didn’t get much media coverage, but the recent announcement by the Government that they are increasing funding for cochlear implants for one year is a welcome one.

Last year I tabled a petition in parliament from Lyn Polwort calling for more funding for adult cochlear implants to enable parity with other disabled NZ.

I sat on the Health select committee when the NZ Cochlear Implant Consumer Group made a very powerful submission, well supported by research and evidence,  in support of the petition.

We heard from a couple whose relationship came under significant stress when one of them lost their hearing, and how, with an implant their quality of their relationship had improved significantly.

We also heard from a young woman describing how she had been able to get a job following an implant.

All adults who will benefit from a cochlear implant should be funded to receive an implant.  It enables these people to re-engage in the community and access employment opportunities.

Sadly, there are more than 180 people on the waiting list. So while the (one off increase in funding) from 20 to 60 adults is great, we are still a long way from meeting the need that is out there.

5 Comments Posted

  1. Another thing that troubles me is although the cost of the first implant is covered, any further cover isn’t. For example, my girlfriend has one cochlear implant, and because she wasn’t born deaf, the batteries arent subsidised. If she was born deaf they would be, I believe. Its a cost of around $15-20 a week.

    Also, if the external unit breaks down due to wear and tear, the cost to replace it is not covered. Its around $10,000. Its just going to be very hard for some families to find $10,000 lying around for replacements. I would love to see more funding available to ongoing support for cochlear implant users.

  2. CIuser

    ‘in 1981 Bowers tested hearing of 100 Maori and 100 European young male prisoners at Mt Eden for hearing impairment, ear disease and adverse social history’
    ‘all of the Maori and 84% of the Europeans were found to have abnormal ears and/or hearing.’

    In 2009, the ethnicity of NZ prisoners were European 33.5%, Maori 50.8%.

    It matters more to me that there are hearing issues in so many prisoners that may have led to their being in prison. Neither you nor I know how many of those prisoners would have been helped by cochlear implants or even expert medical diagnosis and followed by hearing supports, in their childhood.

    Their well-being and the future well-being of children headed to prison if not helped by cochlear implants if needed will certainly decide the well-being of many other New Zealanders not headed for prison, but headed for being victimised by angry and uncared for (mostly) males.

  3. My girlfriend has a cochlear implant. She can now hear almost as well as a regular person. Much more of these should be funded, they really are lifechanging.

  4. Jum, just because someone has ‘hearing issues’ doesn’t mean they are entitled to cochlear implants, regardless of whether they are in prison or not. A cochlear implant is the last resort and only for people who have little or no hearing, therefore very few people require cochlear implants. Based on the number of people who have cochlear implants in NZ, I would beg to differ that ‘many’ people in prison have little or no hearing, and therefore require a cochlear implant.

  5. What about the many people in prison there because of bad education outcomes through hearing issues? Do they get implants?

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