UnitedHealthcare has launched a new program that will help improve access to comprehensive eye exams and prescription glasses for children across the country, helping address the unique eye-health challenges young people face.
The UnitedHealthcare Children's Eye Care Program will help expand access to eye exams and glasses, including:
- Enhanced eye care benefit at no additional premium for children with UnitedHealthcare vision coverage, providing plan participants up to age 13 a second covered eye exam and additional pair of glasses if their vision prescription changes 0.5 diopter or greater.* Because children's eyesight can change quickly, this enhancement provides important coverage for UnitedHealthcare vision plan participants, leading the industry in pediatric vision care coverage.
- Free eye screenings, comprehensive eye exams and glasses donations for children in cities across the country during August and September, providing families with access to eye care during back-to-school season (see details below). Any child identified with a vision issue during these events will receive a free pair of prescription glasses if needed. One in four children have an undiagnosed vision problem that, if left untreated, may result in learning issues, and hinder their academic performance and development.
The new benefits will be available to people enrolled in employer-sponsored and individual UnitedHealthcare vision plans across the country before the end of 2018.
"As much as 80 percent of what children learn is through their eyes, so the inability to see can affect their physical, emotional and social development, and academic and athletic performance," said Tom Wiffler, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. "The UnitedHealthcare Eye Care Program can help improve families' eye health, offering an important reminder to all Americans about the importance of regular comprehensive eye exams and the connection between eye health and overall well-being."
A child's first comprehensive eye exam should occur between 6 months and 12 months, again at age 3 and before entering school at age 5 or 6, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Despite these recommendations, 34 percent of Americans incorrectly believe children should receive a first comprehensive eye exam at age five or later, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey.
To help expand access to eye care, UnitedHealthcare has provided grants to nonprofit organizations in cities across the country to coordinate free eye exams and glasses donations:
- Prevent Blindness Texas will host a vision screening event – with vouchers provided for comprehensive eye exams – in Houston Friday, Aug. 24, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the BakerRipley Leonel Castillo Community Center (2101 South St., Houston, 77009).
- Eye Care 4 Kids will host a comprehensive eye exam event in Phoenix Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Alhambra Family Resource Center (6615 N. 39th Ave., Phoenix, 85019).
- Eye Care 4 Kids will host an exam event in Newark, N.J., Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark (1 Avon Ave., Newark, N.J., 07108).
- Eye Care 4 Kids will host a comprehensive eye exam event in Las Vegas Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the EyeCare4Kids clinic (6150 W. Smoke Ranch Rd., Las Vegas, 89108).
- Prevent Blindness Georgia will host a vision screening event – with vouchers provided for comprehensive eye exams – in Atlanta in September at Sheltering Arms Center, Barack and Michelle Obama Academy (195 Tuskegee St., Atlanta, 30315), date/time TBD.
- Prevent Blindness Wisconsin will host a vision screening event – with vouchers provided for comprehensive eye exams – in Milwaukee in September at St. Augustine Preparatory Academy (2607 S. 5th St., Milwaukee, 53207), date/time TBD.
- Prevent Blindness Illinois will host a vision screening event – with vouchers provided for comprehensive eye exams – in Chicago in September, date/location TBD.
UnitedHealthcare has launched community initiatives and participated in numerous public-private collaborations nationwide to address social determinants of health. In Arizona and Wisconsin, UnitedHealthcare recently donated nearly $4 million in grants, some of which will support school-based vision screenings in collaboration with VisionQuest 20/20.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.
*Second covered eye exam and glasses is per plan or calendar year depending on the policy and requires applicable copays; second pair does not include contact lenses