Eye Health Schemes (aids and appliances)

Aids and Appliances

Page last updated: 27 September 2011

Aids and Appliances

Medicare Australia does not pay a benefit for the purchase of aids and appliances such as spectacles or contact lenses. The provision of medical aids and appliances for eligible patients is a state or territory government responsibility. See table on Eye Subsidy Schemes and Programs Nationwide below.

While the Australian Government provides Medicare rebates for consultations by optometrists at which optical appliances may be prescribed, it does not provide assistance with the costs incurred in the purchase of optical appliances. The provision of medical aids and appliances is a state or territory government responsibility and each state or territory government assists eligible patients to obtain optical appliances at reduced costs. Decisions regarding eligibility, entitlements and scheme or program content, rest with the states and territories that administer them.

The table below provides contact details for the relevant state and territory administration authorities.

Eye Subsidy Schemes Nationwide

State or Territory

Name of Scheme or Program

Web site

Phone Contact

New South WalesNSW Government Spectacle Program www.visioncarensw.com.au 1800 806 851 or
(02) 9344 4122
VictoriaAustralian College of Optometrywww.aco.org.au(03) 9349 7400
QueenslandSpectacle Supply Scheme (SSS)www.health.qld.gov.au/mass/spectacles.asp (07) 3136 3696 or 13 43 25 84
South AustraliaSpectacle Scheme
www.dfc.sa.gov.au/pub/tabId/209/itemId/350/moduleId/795/Spectacles-scheme.aspx1800 307 758 or
1300 762 577
Western AustraliaSpectacle Subsidy Scheme (SSS)www.health.wa.gov.au/services/detail.cfm?Unit_ID=448(08) 9222 2383
TasmaniaStatewide Spectacle & Intra Ocular Assistance Schemewww.dhhs.tas.gov.au/service_information/services_files/spectacles_assistance_scheme1800 232 148
(free call)
Northern TerritoryNT Pensioner Carer Concession Schemewww.health.nt.gov.au/Aged_and_Disability/Subsidies/NT_Pencon_Scheme/index.aspx1800 777 704
Australian Capital TerritorySpectacles Subsidy Schemehttp://www.dhcs.act.gov.au/wac/concessions/spectacles(02) 6207 7753 or
(02) 6205 0534

Exception

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) provides optical services such as clinical testing of the eyes for defective vision and the supply of suitable spectacles, contact lenses or devices for those with low vision who are holders of gold and white Repatriation Health Cards.

To find out how you can access optical services and supplies through DVA visit http://www.dva.gov.au/benefitsAndServices/health/Pages/optometrists.aspx and view the ‘Optical Services and Supplies’ Fact Sheet.

The Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS)

The Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) aims to improve the access of people living in remote and very remote communities to optometric services. To achieve this, the VOS program addresses some of the financial disincentives incurred by optometrists providing outreach services, with funding provided for costs that include: travel, accommodation and meals; facility fees; administrative and locum support; lease and transport of equipment; and the provision of an absence from practice allowance.

The VOS has two elements: the Core VOS and the VOS Expansion for Indigenous Australians. Under the Core VOS element, optometrists are funded to provide optometric services to remote and very remote locations where there is a genuine need for primary eye care services. Under the VOS Expansion for Indigenous Australians element, optometrists are funded to provide new and increased numbers of optometric services to Indigenous Australians in remote and very remote communities.

To be eligible to participate in the VOS, optometrists must be participating optometrists for the purposes of Medicare and have signed the Common Form of Undertaking.

Further information is available at www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ruralhealth-vos

Participating Optometrist’s prescribing rights

Since 1 January 2008, optometrists authorised to prescribe by the Optometry Board of Australia have been able to apply for approval to prescribe from a limited list of eye medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Optometrists who have established the necessary registration and prescribing qualifications may write PBS prescriptions for medicines on the optometrist PBS list. This means that patients, if eligible, can get subsidised medicines prescribed by endorsed optometrists.

Optometrists are also bound by relevant state/territory requirements and regulations in addition to requirements set down by the Optometry Board of Australia in its Registration Standards.

The medicines on the PBS are approved for prescribing by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee in consultation with a range of eye health authorities.