AOA launches major campaign to prompt health plans to rethink eye careAugust 7, 2013
The campaign to “rethink eyecare” represents a major step to help health care decision-makers recognize the improved patient outcomes and cost-savings that can be achieved by including optometrists as in-network providers. Offering a full range of eye health and vision care services, optometrists benefit plans when added as part of medical eye.
The target audience of the campaign messaging is broad and includes employers, consultants, benefit managers, health plans, integrated health care delivery systems and accountable care organizations, according to Stephen Montaquila, O.D., chair of the AOA Third Party Center Executive Committee.
“In addition to the new health plans offering benefits through health insurance exchanges in each state and other insurance programs created under the federal Affordable Care, we are interested in working with employer-based plans organized under the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which have often been resistant to the inclusion of optometrists on their medical provider panels,” Dr. Montaquila said. “Along with that, we are working to integrate eye health and vision benefits into mainstream health plan benefit packages, secure full scope of practice for optometrists providing care to health plan members, and eliminate barriers to patients receiving essential eye care. We also want to eliminate any health plan requirements that force beneficiaries to join vision plans in order to seek medical eye care (provided by optometrists) and any requirements that force optometrists to join vision plan provider panels in order to provide medical eye care to health plan.”
Through a new “rethink eyecare” website (www.rethinkeyecare.com), health plan decision-makers and administrators will now be able to easily access information on the benefits of including primary eye care services as a standard covered benefit provided by optometrists who are included in the health plan provider networks.
In addition, the website is stocked with resources for AOA-member optometrists and state affiliate organizations to use during meetings with health care benefits managers and provider network development decision-makers from a wide range of stakeholder organizations.
The AOA Third Party Center is working to set up meetings with administrators and benefit managers at major employer-based health plans and commercial insurance carriers as well as with national and regional business coalitions.
A series of focus-group style meetings are also planned with a few leading employers, benefits advisors and plan administrators in order to determine best practices for presenting compelling information around the “rethink eyecare” campaign.
The “rethink eyecare” campaign, originally called the “Patient Access to Optometry” initiative, was developed over the past year by the AOA Third Party Center in conjunction with leading health care policy consultants and research firms as part of the center’s overall patient access advocacy effort.