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Essential Health Benefits for Children

The Affordable Care Act went into effect as of January 1, 2014. Vision care for children through 18 years of age are among the many benefits that are now accessible under the new health care law.

Finally! I have been an advocate for children’s vision since 1996. I worked in New York City for over ten years giving eye exams to children on site in their schools. The public health agency that I worked for figured if the parents would not bring the kids to the eye doctor then they would arrange for the eye doctor to go to the kids! Every child in the school could get an exam, whether they had insurance or not. Eyeglasses were provided free of charge as well

It was quite an experience. Everyday we went to a different school. We dragged the examination equipment around in a van, then set it up in a spare classroom or all-purpose room. The teachers would bring the kids down from the classroom and line them up to wait their turn for an exam. Initially, the funding was only for middle school aged children. Hey, it was a start….but I felt the biggest impact could be made if preschool aged children were examined. So like a dog with a bone, I never let go of that idea and lobbied for it within the agency. One day about four years into the program, I got an email asking did I wish to go into the new program for vision exams for preschoolers. it was a rhetorical question, of course I participated and loved it.

So now we have come a long way, it is an essential health benefit which means that this service must be provided for children by the insurance carriers all across the country. Exam and glasses are covered. Check out www.healthcare.gov for more information.

I could not be happier. One in four children have an uncorrected vision problem which could interfere with development or learning. With so many other challenges that kids and parents have, I am glad that the obstacle of poor vison is now easier to overcome.