Looking for the lowest cost eye test? Wondering why Medicare covers the cost in some optometry practices and not others? Read on for a full explanation.
When are you covered for a free eye test?
Anyone with a current Medicare card can claim a rebate on a regular eye examination. If you are under 65 years of age, this is once every 3 years. Over 65-year-olds can claim once a year. If you have an eye disease that requires ongoing management (such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy), you can be tested and claim a rebate more often, as required for your condition.
No time to read the whole article? Download the Quick Guide to Understanding Eye Test Results here.
Why don’t all optometrists bulk bill?
Some optometrists will bulk-bill the cost of your eye examination. This means that Medicare pays them directly for the test and you are not out of pocket. The amount of the claim varies from $35 to approximately $70 and has not really changed significantly in decades. What has changed very significantly is the way some optometrists practice. Many will now offer a range of powerful diagnostic tests and treatments that are not covered by bulk-billing.
Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of many tests such as retinal photography, and even a practice that bulk bills you for your sight test will usually change an out of pocket fee for this kind of additional test. Most people, however, are happy to pay the fee for the extra information the test provides about their eye health. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Who wants a cheap eye test anyway?
Marketing data has proven for decades that there is a proportion of the population who will always choose the lowest cost provider, regardless of quality. Another group insists on the most expensive service, automatically equating higher cost with higher quality – which is not always the case. (We all know someone like this)! But there is a substantial portion of the population who are happy to pay more and get more, especially when it comes to safeguarding their health and the health of their families. This is where you get to control the quality of your eye care.
Are all eye tests the same?
No. Certainly not. Busy chains often book their patients every 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, you will be measured for your new spectacle prescription and your eyes examined for disease. You may even have some retinal images taken (but not always), which will baseline your ocular health for future reference.
Taking eye care to a higher level
Some optometry practices go the extra mile and take a proactive approach to eye care. These practices will have invested in the latest imaging and diagnostic technology and their optometrists will be therapeutically endorsed, which means they can not only diagnose your eye condition, but also treat it. The highest level of training involves regularly travelling overseas for continuing education which isn’t available in Australia.
The Eye Practice routinely provides OCT , peripheral vision (ocular field) testing and macular pigment screening on all patients. If you have a particular problem such as dry eyes or red eyes, a further swag of diagnostic tests are routinely performed to help identify the source of the problem. In-depth questionnaires on your medical history and ocular symptoms will also shed light on what may be underlying your eye condition.
What are your eyes worth?
If you’re looking for the most cost-effective way to get a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses and a general ocular health check, then a bulk-billing practice may meet your needs. But if you’re after an in-depth and complete profile of your ocular health from practitioners trained to the highest level, look no further.
Come and see the experts. There is no substitute for peace of mind. Call The Eye Practice on (02) 9290 1899 or make an appointment online today.