As a parent, your first and strongest instinct is to protect your children. you work hard to put them in the best schools, make sure they hang out with the right people, and avoid unnecessary risks.
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when you think about the future you are building for your children, you probably imagine them happy and healthy. but sometimes the best way to do it is not clear.
When it comes to eye health, some parents wonder, “do babies need vision insurance?” While the answer may sound like an obvious “yes,” like most things in life, the answer is a bit more complicated.
private medical insurance
Let’s start when your baby is born (or after you adopt your baby). During this time period, you generally have thirty to sixty days to add your bundle of joy to your health insurance if you have a current policy (if you don’t, we’ll talk about your options later in a bit!).
If you and your spouse have separate insurance policies, you’ll need to decide which policy will cover your baby. Making changes to your insurance plan usually requires waiting for a certain window of opportunity, but having or adopting a baby is considered a “qualifying life event.” this means you can change your health plan right away.
medical insurance paid by the employer
If you have insurance through your workplace, your new baby can easily be covered, but you’ll need to notify your employer within thirty days of the birth or adoption that you want to add your child to your plan.
Coverage will extend through your baby’s due date, so any procedures or tests performed before you officially add them to your insurance should be covered retroactively.
Some companies offer more than thirty days for parents to enroll, so you’ll need to check with your employer about the time limits that apply to your coverage.
when you don’t have vision insurance
If you are uninsured, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Depending on the state you live in, Medicaid may cover most or even all of your medical costs. For your new baby, you can get coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers vision care, as well as dental, emergency care, immunizations, and pediatric visits.
If you have care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), your children will automatically be covered. Through the ACA, children up to age 19 can receive free eye exams every year.
Coverage through Medicaid, Chip, and ACA is intended for low-income people, so you may not be eligible if your salary is too high.
If you recently lost your job, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to purchase health insurance from your employer for 18 months after your termination. it’s comparatively expensive, but it can help you survive until you find work again.
Another option is intantsee, a publicly funded vision care program designed specifically for children 6-12 months of age. It is administered by Optometry Cares and the AOA Foundation. Participating optometrists provide free eye exams to families at any income level.
visits to your pediatrician
Unless you have a family history of vision problems or a specific reason for testing your baby’s vision, most pediatricians start testing within 12 months of age.
If any concerns arise during these appointments, your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist. the benefit is that an ophthalmologist uses standard medical insurance instead of vision insurance.
To assess your baby’s vision, your pediatrician will most likely use an ocular photoscreen. this checks for issues like:
deviation or asymmetry of gaze
Since your pediatrician can perform this test, it will be covered by major private health insurance plans, as well as Medicaid.
observation at home
When children are born, they cannot focus on objects that are more than eight or ten inches from their faces. At around eight weeks of age, they should be able to focus on a parent’s face.
During this season, you may notice that your child’s eyes seem to cross and move from one object to another, wandering. this is normal!
However, if one of your eyes tends to roll in or out while the other is stationary, it could indicate an eye problem.
By the fifth month, depth perception and color vision develop. in five to eight months, hand-eye coordination will strengthen as he begins to crawl.
At twelve months of age, your child will begin to walk and be able to judge distances well. as a year passes, object recognition will become stronger. Observing your baby’s vision milestones can help you determine if there are any problems that should be discussed with a doctor.
what’s the verdict?
So, does your baby need vision insurance? Depending on what insurance she has, they may already be covered.
Should I get separate or supplemental vision insurance? that depends on your visual health. If there is a concern about pre-existing conditions or your pediatrician discovers an abnormality that requires attention, then you should probably talk to your insurer about your options.
There are many ways to test your child’s vision, so no matter what you decide about coverage, it’s up to you to take care of your children and give them a healthy start for the future.