Cochlear implant funding in aotearoa nz

Accessed ManatÅ« Hauora Ministry of Health

24th August 2022


Who can receive a cochlear implant in New Zealand?

The Ministry of Health funds cochlear implant services for people who meet all of the following criteria:

  • You have severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.
  • Your hearing isn't helped by standard (acoustic) hearing aids.
  • You've been assessed as likely to benefit from a cochlear implant.
  • You're eligible for publicly funded health and disability services.
  • You live permanently in New Zealand.
  • You do not qualify for cochlear implant funding through ACC.

If you can say yes to all of those statements, then you may be eligible for Ministry-funded cochlear implant services. Your health provider can help determine whether you're eligible for this service.

Baseline Audiometric Criteria 

To be a suitable candidate for a cochlear implant, adults must have had a level of hearing that enabled them to develop speech and have been hearing aid users but are no longer benefitting from their hearing aids. The level of hearing loss is determined to be severe to profound with a speech audiometry that is ≤ 60% in the better hearing ear.  

Find out more about eligibility for publicly funded health services.

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
  • maintenance and support
  • associated ongoing support services
  • rehabilitation for adults or habilitation for children
  • device replacement.

The funded service also includes follow-up services such as replacement sound processors. These follow-up services ensure your cochlear implant works well throughout your life.

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

Only one implant is funded for adults.

The evidence suggests that a single implant can give adults useful hearing to communicate more easily.

A limited amount of funding is available for cochlear implants. By only funding one implant per adult, we ensure we can help as many people as possible.

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

Meningitis can cause cochlear ossification – where the cartilage in the ear hardens into bone. If this happens, a person might not be able to get another electrode (implant) inserted if needed (e.g. if the first electrode failed). So adults who have had meningitis can be funded to get two implants if their specialist recommends it.

Annual funding for cochlear implants.

More than $15 million is currently funded for implants and associated support each year. This enables approximately 160 people to have cochlear implants annually.

Who provides cochlear implant services and where?

The Ministry contracts two providers to offer implant services.

The Northern Cochlear Implant Programme (NCIP) covers Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupo.
The Southern Cochlear Implant Programme (SCIP) covers the rest of New Zealand.

These providers select the hospitals where surgery for cochlear implants takes place. The hospitals may be public or private hospitals.

If you live outside the main centre, 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.

Understanding the service

The Service Specification describes the services that the Ministry is buying and the agreement that the Ministry has with a service provider about delivering the service. It includes information about who can access the service and other service requirements.

Find out more

For more information, contact your local audiologist or Advisor on Deaf Children.

For more information on the programme and on cochlear implants, visit the following:

Northern Cochlear Implant Programme
Southern Cochlear Implant Programme.