Importantly, although focusing on a different age group, the referenced study's recommendations are consistent with AOA's earlier recommendations regarding pediatric vision care. The AOA recommended that pediatric vision services should be an essential health benefit for all children. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) designated pediatric vision services as one of the 10 Essential Health Benefits required to be offered by all Qualified Health Plans that will sell in the Health Insurance Exchanges established under the new law, thus mandating that all children will have vision insurance coverage starting in January 2014.
The AOA further recommended that essential pediatric vision services include annual comprehensive eye examinations and treatment, including materials (eyeglasses and contact lenses). The federal government and all states have agreed.
In addition to ensuring children have access to quality eye health and vision coverage, the AOA has developed policy recommendations which align with the conclusions of the referenced study. The AOA advocates for embedding and fully integrating vision insurance coverage as a defined health benefit for children and adults in all mainstream medical and health plans. The intent of the ACA is clear -- to increase efficiency and improve quality of care while decreasing costs. This is to be accomplished by implementing more "accountable care." The AOA has concluded that vision insurance coverage should be fully integrated and care should be better coordinated to meet the accountability demands now being placed on all health insurers and care providers, instead of continuing to promote services that are segregated and care that is uncoordinated as it is in far too many cases today.
The AOA's Chief Public Health Officer, Michael R. Dueñas, O.D., agrees with the study's findings and conclusions. "Vision problems are leading causes of disability and are most often asymptomatic during their treatable stages. The study highlights significant advantages to the continuous provision of vision care by describing reduced disabilities and costs associated with eye diseases and disorders," stated Dr. Dueñas. "This study links well with other studies that describe vision care as providing an essential conduit to earlier interventions and enhanced care coordination for chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension."
About the AOA:
The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.
American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.
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