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ACO extends bulk billed eye exams to all children under 18

ACO bulk billed eye examinations children

The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) is extending bulk billed eye examinations to all children under the age of 18. The public health eyecare provider hopes that the extension will remove any financial barrier to paediatric eyecare.

The billing change – with immediate effect from 30 October 2023 – includes all paediatric services including its Children’s Clinic and advanced Myopia and Binocular Vision clinics in Carlton, as well as services provided at the ACO’s seven satellite clinics throughout Melbourne.

Previously, bulk billing was limited to patients with a concession card, those who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or were a refugee or asylum seeker.

Established in response to the increasing rate of myopia, the ACO said its Myopia Clinic is the only public health clinic of its kind in Victoria.

Led by optometrists with expert training in their field, the ACO’s Children’s Clinic also employs state-of-the-art equipment and techniques. Treatment plans are tailored to individuals based on the best evidence practice to achieve the optimal health outcome, the ACO stated.

The not-for-profit organisation said that cost should not deter families accessing the eyecare a child requires, including access to advanced care such as axial measurement available through the ACO’s Myopia Clinic. Many of the ACO’s services are heavily subsidised and provided at a lower cost, including myopia control options.

Ms Zeinab Fakih, ACO manager of paediatric and rehabilitation services, played a significant role in securing the extension of bulk billing for all children aged under 18 years.

“We are thrilled to be extending bulk billing to include all paediatric examinations at the ACO. We are very aware that risks to children’s eye health are increasing, particularly with the rising prevalence of myopia,” she said.

“Early intervention is essential to offer the best outcome for a child’s long-term eye health. Cost simply should not be a factor in whether a child can access eyecare.”

Ms Kylie Harris, ACO director of operations, added: “The decision to take this next step in removing financial concerns reflects the ethos of the ACO. We are committed to ensuring high quality, equitable eyecare for everyone who needs it and as an organisation, we’ll always explore how to improve accessibility to our services.”

In addition to removing financial barriers, the ACO’s Children’s Clinic welcomes children with complex needs who may otherwise struggle to access care in other optometry settings.

*For Medicare eligible consultations only*

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