The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 001 : GENERALLY(Cite as: 8 V.S.A. § 4088j)
§ 4088j. Choice of providers for vision care and medical eye care services
(a) To the extent a health insurance plan provides coverage for vision care or medical eye care services, it shall cover those services whether provided by a licensed optometrist or by a licensed ophthalmologist, provided the health care professional is acting within his or her authorized scope of practice and participates in the plan's network.
(b) A health insurance plan shall impose no greater co-payment, coinsurance, or other cost-sharing amount for services when provided by an optometrist than for the same service when provided by an ophthalmologist.
(c) A health insurance plan shall provide to a licensed health care professional acting within his or her scope of practice the same level of reimbursement or other compensation for providing vision care and medical eye care services that are within the lawful scope of practice of the professions of medicine, optometry, and osteopathy, regardless of whether the health care professional is an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
(d)(1) A health insurer shall permit a licensed optometrist to participate in plans or contracts providing for vision care or medical eye care to the same extent as it does an ophthalmologist.
(2) A health insurer shall not require a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist to provide discounted materials benefits or to participate as a provider in another medical or vision care plan or contract as a condition or requirement for the optometrist's or ophthalmologist's participation as a provider in any medical or vision care plan or contract.
(e)(1) An agreement between a health insurer or an entity that writes vision insurance and an optometrist or ophthalmologist for the provision of vision services to plan members or subscribers in connection with coverage under a stand-alone vision care plan or other health insurance plan shall not require that an optometrist or ophthalmologist provide services or materials at a fee limited or set by the plan or insurer unless the services or materials are reimbursed as covered services under the contract.
(2) An optometrist or ophthalmologist shall not charge more for services and materials that are noncovered services under a vision care plan or other health insurance plan than his or her usual and customary rate for those services and materials.
(3) Reimbursement paid by a vision care plan or other health insurance plan for covered services and materials shall be reasonable and shall not provide nominal reimbursement in order to claim that services and materials are covered services.
(4)(A) A vision care plan or other health insurance plan shall not restrict or otherwise limit, directly or indirectly, an optometrist's, ophthalmologist's, or independent optician's choice of or relationship with sources and suppliers of products, services, or materials or use of optical laboratories if the optometrist, ophthalmologist, or optician determines that the source, supplier, or laboratory he or she has selected offers the products, services, or materials in a manner that is more beneficial to the consumer, including with respect to cost, quality, timing, or selection, than the source, supplier, or laboratory selected by the vision care plan or other health insurance plan. The plan shall not impose any penalty or fee on an optometrist, ophthalmologist, or independent optician for using any supplier, optical laboratory, product, service, or material.
(B) The optometrist, ophthalmologist, or optician shall notify the consumer of any additional costs the consumer may incur as the result of procuring the products, services, or materials from the source, supplier, or laboratory selected by the optometrist, ophthalmologist, or optician instead of from the source, supplier, or laboratory selected by the vision care plan or other health insurance plan.
(C) Nothing in this subdivision (4) shall be construed to prevent a vision care plan or other health insurance plan from informing its policyholders of the benefits available under the plan or from conducting an audit of an optometrist's, ophthalmologist's, or optician's use of alternative sources, suppliers, or laboratories.
(D) The provisions of this subdivision (4) shall not apply to Medicaid.
(f) The Department of Financial Regulation shall enforce the provisions of this section as they relate to health insurance plans and vision care plans other than Medicaid.
(g) As used in this section:
(1) "Covered services" means services and materials for which reimbursement from a vision care plan or other health insurance plan is provided by a member's or subscriber's plan contract, or for which a reimbursement would be available but for application of the deductible, co-payment, or coinsurance requirements under the member's or subscriber's health insurance plan.
(2) "Health insurance plan" means any health insurance policy or health benefit plan offered by a health insurer or a subcontractor of a health insurer, as well as Medicaid and any other public health care assistance program offered or administered by the State or by any subdivision or instrumentality of the State. The term includes vision care plans but does not include policies or plans providing coverage for a specified disease or other limited benefit coverage.
(3) "Health insurer" shall have the same meaning as in 18 V.S.A. § 9402.
(4) "Materials" includes lenses, devices containing lenses, prisms, lens treatments and coatings, contact lenses, and prosthetic devices to correct, relieve, or treat defects or abnormal conditions of the human eye or its adnexa.
(5) "Ophthalmologist" means a physician licensed pursuant to 26 V.S.A. chapter 23 or an osteopathic physician licensed pursuant to 26 V.S.A. chapter 33 who has had special training in the field of ophthalmology.
(6) "Optometrist" means a person licensed pursuant to 26 V.S.A. chapter 30.
(7) "Optician" means a person licensed pursuant to 26 V.S.A. chapter 47.
(8) "Vision care plan" means an integrated or stand-alone plan, policy, or contract providing vision benefits to enrollees with respect to covered services or covered materials, or both. (Added 2013, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 2015; amended 2015, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)