Cochlear Limited, a manufacturer of implantable hearing devices–including cochlear implants, bone conduction and acoustic implants–designed to treat a range of moderate to profound types of hearing loss, has announced that Anthem, the largest Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® (BCBS) franchise holder and second largest payer in the country, and six other independent BCBS plans have updated their cochlear implant coverage policies to include coverage for the Cochlear Nucleus Hybrid Implant System. This coverage is in addition to coverage by Aetna, TRICARE and Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program already in place for the Hybrid System.
In 2014, Cochlear received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the Hybrid Hearing* device. Since then, there has been limited access to the Hybrid Implant System for those with commercial insurance coverage, as can be the case with any new technology. Now, customers covered under Anthem, BCBS of Arizona, Horizon BCBS of New Jersey, BCBS of Alabama, BCBS of Kansas, BCBS of North Carolina, and Blue Shield of California plans will also be covered for the Hybrid Implant System.
“Lack of awareness of treatment options and lack of access to insurance coverage impedes those with hearing loss to take action,” said Mickey Brown, vice president, Health Economics, Cochlear North America. “Through Cochlear’s efforts to work with insurance companies throughout the United States, more than 90 million people now have access to all cochlear implant options available on the market.”
This news also comes on the heels of the FDA approval of the Cochlear Nucleus Acoustic Component now being made available for all customers with functional low frequency hearing regardless of the type of cochlear implant. Previous access to the Hybrid Implant System, which includes the acoustic component, was only available to those with the Hybrid L24 Implant. Now, all cochlear implant customers can obtain the acoustic component if they have functional low frequency hearing.The Hybrid L24 Implant is approved in the US for adults ages 18 and older.
“Expanding access to the Cochlear Nucleus Acoustic Component enables our current and future cochlear implant recipients to have access to the benefits of both electric and acoustic amplification combined to give them back the sounds they have been missing,” said Tony Manna, president of Cochlear North America.
Hybrid Hearing is designed to combine the benefits of hearing aids and cochlear implants in one device, amplifying the low frequency hearing a person has while restoring access to the high frequency hearing they have lost. Hybrid Hearing is designed to help those with severe high frequency hearing loss and mild to moderate low frequency hearing loss.
* The Cochlear Nucleus Acoustic Component should only be used when behavioral audiometric thresholds can be obtained and the recipient can provide feedback regarding sound quality.
Source: Cochlear Limited