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
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
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.