When to upgrade

Learn about when you may be eligible to upgrade to a new sound processor.

Young girl wearing Cochlear implant

What you will find on this page

  • Identify when it’s time to upgrade your sound processor

  • How insurance companies view replacement sound processors

  • How to start the upgrade process

Better hearing for life

One of the most exciting things about Cochlear technology is that it continues to evolve. Next-generation sound processors are designed to deliver clearer sound, new connections and capabilities, and work with most existing cochlear implant or bone-anchored auditory implant.

When is it time to upgrade your sound processor?

Deciding when to replace your sound processor is a personal decision that can be supported by facts.

Reasons to replace your sound processor include:

End of useful life: Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, may authorize the replacement of a sound processor when it has reached or passed a stated period of "useful life," usually five years. 

Loss or irreparable damage: Should you or a loved one lose or irreparably damage your sound processor, your insurance company may permit an upgrade to the latest generation sound processor as a viable replacement.

Better performance: A demonstrated improvement in technology and hearing performance may offer sufficient medical reason for a new sound processor. A replacement sound processor is considered medically necessary to achieve functional improvement in auditory performance, minimize safety risk concerns, and improve quality of life.

Watch Bella P.'s family describe their Baha® 5 upgrade experience.

Bella P.'s Baha 5 upgrade experience


Watch Kenneth G. describe his Nucleus® 7 upgrade experience.

Kenneth G.’s Nucleus 7 upgrade story

Navigating insurance coverage for replacements and upgrades

A cochlear implant is a lifelong hearing solution for sensorineural hearing loss that relies on advanced microphone and sound processing technology for treating severe to profound sensorineural deafness. Unlike hearing aids, this technology is considered a medical necessity and has been covered by Medicaid, Medicare, the Veteran’s Administration, and many private insurance companies since 2004.

Cochlear now uses Baha® as a brand name, and “bone-anchored auditory device” or “bone-anchored auditory implant” to describe the Baha hearing solution. This terminology was instrumental in persuading insurance companies that this technology is different from a hearing aid and gaining coverage from Medicare, some Medicaid programs and many major insurance plans for the Baha hearing solution. Use “bone-anchored auditory implant” and “bone-anchored auditory device” when speaking to your insurance company representative.

"The Nucleus upgrade changed my life. I spend less effort trying to understand people. I just hear better.”

- Jack B. - Nucleus 7 upgrade recipient

Learn more about upgrading your device

As a part of our lifetime commitment you can gain access to new Baha®, Osia® and Nucleus® technology when it becomes available without the need for additional surgery. If you are ready to upgrade, or just beginning to explore next-generation technology, choose your device type below to learn more.


Views expressed by Cochlear recipients are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology. Outcomes and results may vary.

Information provided by Cochlear Americas regarding insurance coverage or reimbursement is provided as guidance only and is not intended as reimbursement or legal advice. Cochlear Americas makes no representation or warranty regarding such information or its completeness, accuracy, fitness for a particular purpose, or that following such guidance will result in any form of coverage or reimbursement from any insurer. Information presented is subject to change at any time. To be sure that you have the most current and applicable information available for your unique circumstances, please consult your own experts and seek your own legal advice regarding your reimbursement needs. In all cases, products or services billed must be medically necessary, actually performed and appropriately documented in the medical record. Coverage determinations and out-of-pocket costs may vary for individuals with private insurance.