Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices
As noted, three families we met, in different parts of the country, were unable to secure any support from their insurance carrier for the implant. In all three cases, however, another agency or person, or even an entire community, stepped in and offered to pay for part or all of the cost of the surgery and hospitalization. The first family had to pay for the surgery themselves, whereas the local Lionís Club paid for the speech processor. The mother of the second family recounts her experience as follows:
When they did the implant the doctor explained to me that it was a $24,000 surgery [about a decade ago] . . . . I didnít have the $24,000. I said, If you will take my money every month, I will sign whatever it takes, and I will pay you . . . . I didnít have a husband, I didnít have nobody. It was just me and [my daughter] . . . and . . . my son . . . . And I said, If youíre willing to let me sign . . . I will pay you a little bit every month. He said there was no problem with that. So I signed the papers. I was responsible for everything that went on at the hospital. After 2, 3, months, I think I made one payment, and the doctor . . . told me that I didnít have to pay [any] more because someone anonymouslyóI was not allowed to know the nameópaid if off.
the third family, the entire community came together to raise money for the
MOTHER: I called a lady in . . . a small town nearby who had done fund raisers before and she told me how to go about it . . . . I asked some people in the community to be the administrators, to be the fund raising committee, and any money that was brought in, they were to be in charge of it . . . . From that, the church organized fund raisers. The baseball team, the parents of the ball team that [my son] played on, they organized a softball game between a [city] TV station and a local industrial park softball team. And they played, and charged admission into the ballpark . . . . The local pizza place donated pizzas for them to sell by the slice. Hamburger joints here in town donated hamburgers to be sold at the concession stand. Everything that night, the money was for [my son].
INTERVIEWER: How much did they raise, do you remember?
Yes, I do. Forty thousand dollars . . . in 2 weeks.
Post-Implant ExpensesAs far as post-implant habilitation expenses are concerned, it is safe to say that, in general, insurance carriers were much less enthusiastic about paying for postsurgery habilitation costs, especially for ongoing speech or auditory therapy, than they were about paying for the surgery. This reluctance caused considerable consternation among a number of parents we talked with. These parents questioned why their insurance would cover the equipment itself, but not the programming and training that would allow their child to benefit from it.