Webinar answers critical questions about ACA changes

In one of the AOA's most highly attended webinars ever, the AOA Third Party Center informed members of the biggest changes that lie ahead under the Affordable Care Act.

"I want to encourage every AOA doctor and student who hasn't yet seen it to download it today."

"At a time when there's growing confusion across the health care sector about what the future holds, our AOA Third Party Center delivered a very complete and detailed insider analysis of the new health care law and its impact," said AOA President Mitchell T. Munson, O.D.

More than 400 AOA members registered to join the webinar on Dec. 3. TPC representatives discussed coverage expansion opportunities. They also covered the challenges that await optometry practices in 2014.

The webinar is available online for those unable to attend (member log-in required).

Ken White, O.D., a TPC coordinator in Washington state, said the webinar was "extremely informative by presenting current and future trends in the health care marketplace. It not only informed members about these changes, but how they might position themselves within this new market."

ODs need to understand pediatric coverage

"Eye health and vision care delivery is changing," said Stephen Montaquila, O.D., chair of the TPC's Executive Committee.

This is especially true of children's eye care. The ACA soon will require small group and individual health plans—both on and off health insurance marketplaces—to offer the pediatric optometric care essential health benefit. This was a big win for the AOA, which had lobbied to ensure a robust pediatric benefit was integrated into health plan coverage starting in January 2014.

However, it also brings about new rules and new challenges, Dr. Montaquila said.

For example, some plans offer it as a post-deductible benefit; others offer it before the deductible. ODs should get savvy about how these plans work and whether or not patients have met deductibles. The profession is now dealing with a product "that we have to deliver, which obviously has a cost, and we have to understand where the patient falls as far as coverage,"  Dr. Montaquila said.

New territory for health plans, too

Optometrists also should be aware of new alliances between vision and health plans, Dr. Montaquila said. In implementing the ACA's mandates, some health plans that have not traditionally dealt with vision care or interacted with vision plans are now doing so.

"This introduces a new set of issues and challenges for optometrists," he indicated.

To help understand and meet those challenges, Dr. Munson encouraged members to take advantage of resources such as this webinar.

"I want to encourage every AOA doctor and student who hasn't yet seen it to download it today from AOA.org (member log-in required) and to stay in touch with our TPC volunteers and staff going forward," he said.

December 10, 2013

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