Though cochlear implants may be the best course of treatment for hearing loss suffered by some veterans, many of them live hours away from a VA facility that offers implant services, according to an article in Reuters.
The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, looked at 19.9 million veterans; 50% of them lived at least 80 miles from a facility offering cochlear implants, and 4 million lived 160 or more miles from one.

“There are a large number of veterans who likely find it impossible to get to the specialized clinics able to fit them with cochlear implants,” said Dr Tim Hullar, senior author of the study and director of the cochlear implant program at Oregon Health and Science University and the Portland VA Medical Center, as quoted in the Reuters article.

Dr Neil Bhattacharyya, a professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was quoted in the article, said, “While full coverage for cochlear implantation may be provided by the Veterans Health Administration, thus eliminating the potential `insurance issue’ of coverage for cochlear implantation, large distances to travel, each requiring repeated visits, are yet another barrier to accessing care.”

To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

Original Paper: Shayman CS, Ha Y-M, Raz Y, Hullar TE. Geographic disparities in US veterans’ access to cochlear implant care within the veterans health administration system. JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. 2019: doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.1918.

Source: Reuters, JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery