Who can receive a funded cochlear implant in New Zealand?

The Ministry of Health funds cochlear implant services for people who:

  • Have severe to profound hearing loss
  • Aren’t helped by standard hearing aids
  • Have been assessed as likely to benefit from a cochlear implant
  • Are eligible for publicly-funded health and disability services
  • Live permanently in New Zealand
  • Do not qualify for cochlear implant funding through ACC

Provision of implants

The funded service includes:

  • The assessment
  • The device (an implanted electrode and a sound processor which is worn externally)
  • The surgery
  • Audiology
  • Rehabilitation for adults or habilitation for children
  • Device replacement

The cost of travel to the hospital for an audiology assessment, surgery and follow-up appointments may be covered through the National Travel Assistance Scheme.

The funded service also includes follow-up services such as replacement sound processors.

Children

For children, the funded service also covers the cost of any repairs, batteries or spare parts for their speech processors. Adults (aged 19 years or older) must fund these costs themselves.

The Ministry of Health does not fund follow-up services for adults (aged 19 or older) who received their implant outside of New Zealand or who paid for their implant privately.

Children may have implants funded for both ears (bilaterally) unless clinically contra-indicated.

Adults

The evidence suggests that a single implant can provide adults with useful hearing so they can communicate more easily.

Adults who have had meningitis may have implants funded for both ears a second electrode array if their specialist recommends it.

Eligibility criteria for an assessment and eligibility for a publicly funded cochlear implant are different.  After assessment, the clinical team at the cochlear implant programme will determine your eligibility for a publicly funded cochlear implant.

Eligibility for publicly funded treatment is the same across New Zealand and based on a Clinical Priority Access Criteria (CPAC) tool, which produces a CPAC score. A CPAC score can only be calculated by the cochlear implant assessing team. In order to be wait-listed for a funded implant, patients must meet a funding threshold via the CPAC score. The threshold for wait-listing may change over time as funding dictates.

Patients with a CPAC score that doesn’t meet the funding threshold are not eligible for public treatment. You will be referred back to your local service provider with advice for management of your hearing loss. This may include a review of hearing aids, referral to a Hearing Therapist, the provision of assistive devices such as FM systems, and other community supports.