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 now once every 3 years. (Until recently, this was every every two years and this is still recommended for anyone over 45). Over 65-year-olds can claim once a year. Some people have an eye disease that requires ongoing management (such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease). If so, 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 in decades. What has changed a lot is the way some optometrists practice. Many now offer a range of powerful diagnostic tests and treatments that are not bulk-billed. Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of many tests such as retinal photography. Even a bulk-billing practice will usually change an out of pocket fee for this kind of extra test. But most people 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 shown for a long time that some people will always choose the lowest cost provider, regardless of quality. Others will insist on the most expensive service, equating higher cost with higher quality – which is not always the case. (We all know someone like this)! But there is a large part of the population who are happy to pay more and get more. This is especially true 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. They're 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 record your eye health for comparison in the future.
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. Their optometrists will be therapeutically qualified. This means they can not only diagnose your eye condition, but also treat it. The highest level of training involves regular travel overseas for continuing education. This isn’t available in Australia. The Eye Practice provides OCT and peripheral vision (field) testing on all patients. If you have a particular problem such as dry eyes or red eyes, you may need more tests. These will help identify the source of the problem. Questionnaires on your medical history and ocular symptoms will also shed light on what may be causing your eye problem.
What are your eyes worth?
Are you looking for the cheapest way to get a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses and a general ocular health check? If so, then a bulk-billing practice may meet your needs. But perhaps you’re after a complete profile of your ocular health from people who are trained to the highest level. If so, 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.