The extreme importance of healthy vision for children to their learning and development cannot be understated. Now the federal government is fully supporting this notion as it begins to implement the pediatric essential health benefit, which was hard-fought and lobbied for by optometrists, students and AOA members across the country! To think that previously, the idea that all kids should have a comprehensive eye exam before entering school was merely an afterthought, is disappointing to say the least. Well, this is a huge step in the right direction, and now with the backing of US Department of Health and Human Services, the pediatric essential health benefit is expected to greatly impact health and vision care available to children.
Across the country, children and adolescents through age 18 will gain coverage under their health insurance that will include a comprehensive eye exam, treatment and medical eye care. Those opposed to this benefit were content with having only a screening as sufficient eye care to be covered by health insurance! This will be offered as a distinct benefit, rather than one that simply falls under “well-child care,” which is only a general umbrella of health services offered to children and adolescents. Additionally, optometrists must be recognized as the professionals who provide this care.
Here’s a link to the article: http://newsfromaoa.org/2012/11/20/aoas-patient-access-message-takes-hold-in-federal-plan-for-health-law-implementation/
It’s always good to look back at the accomplishments of those who paved the way before us in order to have a true appreciation of where optometry’s standing is within health care today, and what it takes to continue this forward progression. Ten or 20 years down the road, this will be yet another advancement within the profession that optometrists and students look back on and say, “I can’t believe we had to fight and push for a comprehensive eye exam for kids to be included in health care plans!” I wonder what will come next…