Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kids' vision screening is an essential benefit under ACA

August is National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which is a good reminder for parents and caregivers to schedule a vision screening before or near the start of the school year.

“Vision screening is vitally important for children,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who is a doctor of optometry and practiced in Olympia for 20 years. “Undiagnosed vision problems can disrupt a child’s learning for years and set them back academically and socially.” 

Very young children and children with special needs often have difficulty participating in an eye exam, and often those involved in a child’s care are the first to notice warning signs of an eye problem. 

Insurance plans may require a referral from your child’s primary care provider or pediatrician prior to scheduling a visit with an eye care provider. However, pediatric vision services are among the essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act, which are the services that all individual and small employer health plans must include.

If your child does not have insurance for eye exams or for prescription eyeglasses, assistance programs such as EyeCare America, InfantSEE and Prevent Blindness may be able to help.

Washington consumers who don’t have health insurance for their children should contact Washington Healthplanfinder to find out if they qualify for Apple Health, our state’s Medicaid program.

If you are the parent of a special needs child ages birth to age 3, contact Early Support for Infants and Toddlers through the state Department of Early Learning.

Read more about how health insurance has changed for individuals and families. If you have questions about insurance in Washington state, contact our consumer advocates online or by phone at 1-800-562-6900.