Coverage Policies

Use the index below to search for coverage information on specific medical conditions.

Note: For Arkansas State or Public School employees, services subject to pre-authorization are managed by Active Health Management, as noted in their Summary Plan Description.

For coverage information on high tech imaging (MRI, CT, PET) and nuclear medicine, administered by Evicore, click here.

Medical Providers: Payment for care or services is based on eligibility, medical necessity and available benefits at time of service and is subject to all contractual exclusions and limitations, including pre-existing conditions if applicable.

Future eligibility cannot be guaranteed and should be rechecked at time of service. Verify benefits by signing into My Account or calling Customer Service at 800.235.7111 or 501.228.7111.

If not specified in a QualChoice coverage policy (Benefit Interpretation), QualChoice follows care guidelines published by MCG Health.

QualChoice reserves the right to alter, amend, change or supplement medical policies as needed. QualChoice reviews and authorizes services and substances. CPT and HCPCS codes are listed as a convenience and any absent, new or changed codes do not alter the intent of the policy.


Effective Date: 09/18/1995 Title: Cochlear Implants
Revision Date: 01/01/2018 Document: BI185:00
CPT Code(s): 69930; L8614-L8619; L8621-L8625; L8694
Public Statement

Effective Date:

a)    This policy will apply to all services performed on or after the above revision date which will become the new effective date.

b)    For all services referred to in this policy that were performed before the revision date, contact customer service for the rules that would apply.

1)    Cochlear implants require pre-authorization.

2)    A cochlear implant is a single or multi-channel electronic device (coil) which consists of electrode(s), a connector, and a sealed receiver-stimulator module encased in silicone rubber that is implanted in patients with severe sensorineural deafness.

3)    The external components of the implant include a microphone, an external sound processor and an external transmitter; surgically implanted internal components include an internal receiver within the temporal bone and an electrode array extending from the receiver into the cochlea through a surgically created opening in the round window of the middle ear.

4)    Cochlear Implants are subject to the terms and conditions of the members plan coverage document.

Medical Statement

1)    Adults 18 years of age and older:
Having bilateral, post-linguistic, sensorineural, moderate-to-profound hearing impairment who meet both of the following criteria: HAYES B

i)     Member has bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss  (H90.3) determined by a pure tone average of 70 dB or greater at 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz; and

ii)    Member has limited benefit from appropriately fitted binaural hearing aids. Limited benefit from amplification is defined by test scores of 40 % correct or less in best-aided listening condition on open-set sentence cognition (e.g., Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) sentences, Hearing in Noise Test sentences (HINT)).

2)    Children between 12 months of age and 18 years: HAYES A
Uniaural (monaural) or binaural (bilateral) cochlear implantation is considered  medically necessary for bilateral sensorineural hearing impairment when  all of the following criteria are met :

a)    Child has profound, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss determined by a pure tone average of 90 dB or greater at 500, 1000 and 2000 Hz and

b)    Child has had limited benefit from appropriately fitted binaural hearing aids.
For children 4 years of age or younger, limited benefit is defined as failure to reach developmentally appropriate auditory milestones measured using the Infant-Toddler Meaningful Auditory Integration Scale, the Meaningful Auditory Integration Scale, or the Early Speech Perception test, or less than 20% correct on open-set word recognition test (Multisyllabic Lexical Neighborhood Test) in conjunction with appropriate amplification and participation in intensive aural habilitation over a 3 to 6 month period.
For children older than 4 years of age, limited benefit is defined as less than 12% correct on the Phonetically Balanced-Kindergarten Test, or less than 30% correct on the Hearing in Noise Test for children, the open-set Multi-syllabic Lexical Neighborhood Test (MLNT) or Lexical Neighborhood Test (LNT), depending on the child`s cognitive ability and linguistic skills; and

c)    A 3- to 6-month hearing aid trial has been undertaken by a child without previous experience with hearing aids. Note: When there is radiological evidence of cochlear ossification, this requirement will be waived.

3)    General criteria for both adults and children:

a)    The member must have no medical contraindications to cochlear implantation (e.g., cochlear aplasia, active middle ear infection); and

b)    The member must have had an assessment by an audiologist and from an otolaryngologist experienced in this procedure indicating the likelihood of success with this device; and

c)    Candidates must be enrolled in an educational program that supports listening and speaking with aided hearing; and

d)    Arrangements for appropriate follow-up care including the long-term speech therapy required to take full advantage of this device, must be assured.

e)    Member is current on age-appropriate pneumococcal vaccination (at least two weeks prior to surgery) in accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.


Codes Used In This BI:


69930             Implant cochlear device

L8614             Cochlear device, includes all internal and external components

L8615             Headset/headpiece for use with cochlear implant device, replacement

L8616             Microphone for use with cochlear implant device, replacement

L8617             Transmitting coil for use with cochlear implant device, replacement

L8618             Transmitter cable for use with cochlear implant device, replacement

L8619             Cochlear implant, external speech processor and controller, integrated

                        system, replacement

L8621             Zinc air battery for use with cochlear implant device, replacement, each

L8622             Alkaline battery for use with cochlear implant device, any size,

                        Replacement, each

L8623             Lithium ion battery for use with cochlear implant device speech processor,

                        other than ear level, replacement, each

L8624             Lithium ion battery for use with cochlear implant device speech processor,

                        ear level, replacement, each

L8625             External recharging system for cochlear implant, replacement only


L8694           Cochlear implant, transducer/actuator, replacement only (1/1/18)

  1. The cochlear implant is an electronic prosthesis that stimulates cells of the auditory spiral ganglion to provide a sense of sound to persons with hearing impairment.  The patient selection criteria for cochlear implants described above were adapted from the FDA approved indications for cochlear implants.
  2. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2005) has determined that the evidence is adequate to conclude that cochlear implantation is reasonable and necessary for the treatment of bilateral pre- or post-linguistic, sensorineural, moderate-to-profound hearing loss in individuals who demonstrate limited benefit from amplification.  Limited benefit from amplification is defined by test scores of 40% correct or less in the best-aided listening condition on tape recorded tests of open-set sentence cognition.
  3. Audio logic criteria for pediatric patients follow guidelines similar to those for adults.  For adults and children able to respond reliably, standard pure-tone and speech audiometry tests are used to screen likely candidates.  For children, the speech reception threshold (SRT) and/or pure-tone average (PTA) should equal or exceed 90 dB; for adults, the SRT/PTA should equal or exceed 70 dB. If the patient can detect speech with best-fit hearing aids in place, a speech-recognition test in a sound field of 55 dB hearing level (HL) sound pressure level (SPL) is performed.  A number of speech recognition tests are in current use.
  4. Children should be receptive to wearing a hearing aid before cochlear implantation because all current implants require an external processor.  A period of hearing aid use to ascertain development of aided communication ability is the critical criterion for determining candidacy of young children.
  5. To decrease the risk for meningitis in this population, the FDA recommends:
    1. Following the CDC`s vaccination guidelines;
    2. Educating implant recipients and their caregivers about the early signs of meningitis;
    3. Treating middle ear infections early;
    4. Considering prophylactic antibiotics perioperatively.


1)    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Decision memo for cochlear implantation (CAG-00107N). National Coverage Analyses. Baltimore, MD: CMS; April 4, 2005. Available at:

2)    National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Auditory brain stem implants. Interventional Procedure Guidance 108. London, UK: NICE; January 2005.

3)    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Working Group on Cochlear Implants. Cochlear Implants. ASHA Technical Report. Rockville, MD: ASHA; 2004:1-35. Available at:

4)    Kuhn-Inacker H, Shehata-Dieler W, Muller J, Helms J. Bilateral cochlear implants: A way to optimize auditory perception abilities in deaf children? Int J Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 2004;68:1257-1266.

5)    Litovsky RY, Parkinson A, Arcaroli J, Peters R. Bilateral cochlear implants in adults and children. Arch Otolaryngology Head Neck Surg. 2004; 130:648-655.

6)    Ricketts TA, Grantham DW, Ashmead DH, et al. Speech recognition for unilateral and bilateral cochlear implant modes in the presence of uncorrelated noise sources. Ear Hear. 2006;27(6):763-773.

7)    Ching TY, van Wanrooy E, Dillon H. Binaural-bimodal fitting or bilateral implantation for managing severe to profound deafness: A review. Trends Amplif. 2007;11(3):161-192.

8)    National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Cochlear implants for children and adults with severe to profound deafness. Appraisal Consultation Document. London, UK: NICE; December 2007.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA public health notification: Importance of vaccination in cochlear implant recipients. Rockville, MD: FDA; October 10, 2007. Available at:

Application to Products
This policy applies to all health plans administered by QualChoice, both those insured by QualChoice and those that are self-funded by the sponsoring employer, unless there is indication in this policy otherwise or a stated exclusion in your medical plan booklet. Consult the individual plan sponsor Summary Plan Description (SPD) for self-insured plans or the specific Evidence of Coverage (EOC) for those plans insured by QualChoice. In the event of a discrepancy between this policy and a self-insured customer’s SPD or the specific QualChoice EOC, the SPD or EOC, as applicable, will prevail. State and federal mandates will be followed as they apply.
Changes: QualChoice reserves the right to alter, amend, change or supplement benefit interpretations as needed.
This policy has recently been updated. Please use the index above or enter policy title in search bar for the latest version.