Insurance and Low Vision Devices
Historically, insurance companies have been a difficult entity to work with. Most people do not talk about insurance in the same way they talk about a spa day or vacation. Navigating codes, understanding exactly what is covered, and what the cost will be, is difficult, stressful, and, oftentimes, unaffordable. This is especially true for those living with vision disorders. Low vision devices somehow were glossed over when insurance companies were deciding what should be covered and what should be your responsibility to pay. This leaves many individuals and families feeling hopeless and frustrated in their search for a vision aid that is affordable and effective.
Low vision devices are, as technology advances, becoming more prevalent for everyday tasks. The push for independence has been heard by large technology companies, and the race is on to make bigger and better low vision devices. Each new device seems to have more features built into one package, meaning you no longer need equipment for differing tasks. All of the new-found interest in creating low vision devices and tech for the blind has felt like a seismic shift in the way the world sees vision disorders. Unfortunately, a huge factor that inhibits the adoption and use of these devices would be the large ticket prices that generally come in tow. Buzz and excitement surrounding such tech can be overshadowed by prices that can easily reach $10,000.
Something to note is that as these devices become more common, a need for affordable low vision tech is also being heard. A few affordable options are out on the market and they seem to be getting better. Microsoft, with their new AI app, is a huge name in the low vision device world right now. The company is making some of the most advanced technology available to anyone with a smartphone.
But what happens when your needs expand beyond an app? What if the devices you need push beyond what is affordable? Please document the codes we are providing below. Through online research, codes for low vision devices have been identified.
This code is for handheld, low vision aids and other non-spectacle-mounted aids as maintained by CMS falls under Low and Near Vision Aids.
This is a code for single-lens, spectacle-mounted, low vision aids as maintained by CMS falls under Low and Near Vision Aids.
This code is for telescopic and other compound lens systems, including distance vision telescopic, near vision telescopes, and compound microscopic lens system, as maintained by CMS falls under Low and Near Vision Aids.
Another company striving to make low vision devices more available is FreedomTech. Currently, their coverage is limited to California. FreedomTech provides low-interest loans for assistive technology. The criteria to apply are that you have to be 18 or older, a resident of California, identify as an individual with (or represent an individual with) a disability, and demonstrate the capability to repay the loan. If you are a California resident in need of a low vision device, it might be worth your time to look into what FreedomTech is doing.
The road to full insurance coverage of low vision devices has been long and difficult to navigate, but nevertheless it is being paved. The voices of the visually impaired are being heard, and change feels imminent.