CHICAGO—The American Cochlear Implant (ACI) Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to cochlear implantation through research, advocacy and awareness. So, it was delighted to send out a media alert about an 18-year-old whose cochlear implant was paid for through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace after her parents’ employee medical plan turned her down.
Alexandra Falkiewicz, a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago, was implanted on April 21, by Nancy Young, MD, medical director of audiology and cochlear implant programs at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. On May 16, the implant was successfully activated, leading to tears of joy from Alexandra and her parents.
Alexandra had experienced a decline in her hearing during high school, and had hoped to get a cochlear implant before entering college. However, when her parents asked their insurer to cover the surgery, it refused, saying that under their plan treatment for hearing loss was optional.
That decision delayed but did not stop Alexandra from getting the needed surgery. She is especially determined to improve her hearing so she can pursue her dream of going to medical school.
MAKING IMPLANTS ACCESSIBLE
The ACI Alliance views cochlear implants as providing “life-changing opportunities for appropriate children and adults who do not benefit sufficiently from hearing aids.” That’s why it is working hard to ensure that insurance fully covers “this cost-effective treatment,” which many people cannot afford without third-party coverage.
Donna Sorkin, executive director of the ACI Alliance (and a cochlear implant recipient), told Hearing News Watch, “We have a State Champion network with approximately 30 states currently represented. We are tracking coverage of cochlear implantation and related services and helping train our Champions on insurance issues and on how to negotiate the rather complicated ACA process.”