With a legislative agreement now in place that puts an end to the fiscal standoff in the nation's capital and reopens the federal government, the AOA reminds members and the public that vision and eye health coverage provisions of the new health care law remain on track for implementation starting Jan. 1, 2014.
For America's children, all health plans, including those inside and outside of state-based insurance exchanges, offering small group or individual coverage will be required to cover the Children's Optometric Eye Health Essential Benefit (member log-in required), allowing millions of children to gain comprehensive eye health and vision care coverage that is embedded within their health plan, based on an annual eye exam, treatment, and materials from infancy through age 18, and ensures direct access to a doctor of optometry.
For more information about the Children's Optometric Eye Health Essential Benefit, AOA members are encouraged to read and share with patients and the public Four Things Every Parent Should Know about the New Optometric Care Essential Health Benefit (member log-in required).
Although vision care for adults has not also been singled out as essential under the law, the millions of Americans age 19 and over who will be gaining coverage, along with all of those with coverage in place already, will have the opportunity to add adult vision as a supplemental benefit. Moreover, medical eye care services will continue to be covered by all health plans, allowing millions more adults to directly access a doctor of optometry for their eye health needs.
As the federal government reopens and the official launch of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) proceeds, the AOA will continue working to keep expanded patient access to ODs in the Washington, D.C. spotlight and pressing Congress and federal agency officials on the profession's highest priorities. For more information on the AOA's advocacy efforts, contact Jon Hymes, AOA Washington Office Director, at 800/365-2219.