We recognise that New Zealand faces tight economic times. However we firmly believe that giving children the best possible start in life is a responsibility of our society. We therefore propose that the Ministry of Health provide the following opportunity for families of children medically identified as being suitable for bilateral Cochlear Implants:

  1. All newly identified child candidates are offered a second Cochlear Implant to be implanted simultaneously with the first, where medically appropriate.
  2. Parents are required to contribute a fortnightly payment equivalent to the Child Disability Allowance for support from which ever Cochlear Implant programme they are registered with.

Such a change would add a maximum cost of $1.6m in the first year and top out in Y18 at a maximum of just over $3.1m pa. During the first 18 years, parents will contribute almost $18.5m, reaching an annual maximum of almost $2m (this is likely to be larger as the Child Disability Allowance is increased with inflation).

This proposal could provide up to almost 846 children (47 per year) with binaural hearing over that time.

This would be a first step. It does not address those who have already received a single implant or anything to do with the adult programmes. However we do not believe any reasonable person will begrudge a 6 month old getting the opportunity to hear with two ears. The sooner this issue is sorted out, the fewer single implanted children will need to be addressed in the future.

Model – bilateral-ci-funding-model-3 (Updated 2/3/14)