The Ohio General Assembly and Governor Kasich have approved legislation that brings reform to limitations placed by insurance providers that restricted patients’ ability to choose where they purchase their prescription lenses. House Bill 156 now gives patients in Ohio with vision insurance more treatment options when it comes to picking providers and eyewear suppliers.
With previous restrictions being lifted that made it difficult for patients to purchase from some lens brands or see certain vision care providers, which includes licensed optometrists (OD) or licensed physicians (MO or DO), vision insurance companies are now required to inform patients in writing about any business stipulations or arrangements between a provider and vision supplier that results in financial gain for either party.
The bill also prohibits “non-covered services” provisions, which are fee limitations placed on services and eyewear not covered in a patient’s benefit plan, such as a second pair of prescription glasses.
“R&D Optical Lab, an independent lab, is excited that legislators enabled vision care providers and their patients to have flexibility and transparency when choosing where to have their prescription lenses crafted,” said R&D President and CEO Ronald Cooke. “Our continued mission is to provide the best possible prescription glasses for the patients’ needs, and we are happy that vision care providers and their patients will be able to work with independent labs like R&D without limitations.”
The bill was first introduced to the House in 2017 by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and supported by the Ohio Optometric Association, which represents approximately 70 percent of practicing optometrists in Ohio. Keith Kerns, OOA Executive Director, stated that the bill was brought before the legislature to address “aggressive tactics within vision insurance [companies] that are splintering the doctor-patient relationship, hindering patients’ choice in health care and harming small business vision care providers.”
According to Kerns, 19 other states had passed similar bills in order to prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of patients and hurting small businesses. Concerns from the Ohio Optometric Association that patients were not receiving full access to the prescription glasses and eyewear they deserved had previously been raised as the bill was being reviewed by the legislature.
“R&D hopes that the bill will bring more awareness to patients’ rights in addition to getting them access to the quality prescription lenses that they need,” Cooke added. “It is very important that vision care providers take a very close look at all new agreements/contracts from vision insurance companies. If you find anything concerning or questionable, you should consult your lawyer and contact the OOA with that information. This will be the best way to ensure compliance with the new law.”
R&D Optical Lab is an independent lens provider that works with vision care providers and patients to meet their needs for custom eyewear products and solutions. Contact us today or call us at 513-273-4034 to learn more, and how the passing of Bill 156 in Ohio gives you more freedom in sight.
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