Cataract patients will now receive foldable intraocular lenses free of charge beginning June 4, 2012.
After reviewing usage data - and discussing with ophthalmologists, clinical experts and patients - the Province has decided to make foldable monofocal lenses the standard of care for cataract surgeries, rather than rigid lenses.
This decision will save cataract patients a significant amount of money, the majority of whom are seniors. Previously, patients purchased lenses directly from their surgeons at a range of prices from $210 to $500. These lenses will now be provided by health authorities free of charge.
In addition to covering foldable lenses, health authorities will also be offering specialty lenses, such as multifocals, at a standard, reduced price. The price will depend on the specific type of lens. Plus, patients who choose specialty lenses will only have to pay the cost difference between the price of the lenses they choose and the foldable monofocal lens.
In December 2011, the government of B.C. announced standardized pricing for foldable lenses, based on bulk buying power of B.C.'s six health authorities. Health Shared Services BC now manages the supply of lenses in British Columbia to ensure taxpayers pay the lowest rate possible for these products. HSSBC is working on a direct purchasing agreement with existing suppliers to determine the price for any specialty lenses.
Patients scheduled for cataract surgery prior to June 4 may wish to discuss these changes with their surgeons. The ministry will not be reimbursing patients who have surgery before June 4.
Minister of Health Michael de Jong -
"These lenses allow for a less invasive surgery, and will benefit the nearly 52,000 patients, mostly seniors, who have cataract surgery every year. This decision emphasizes our commitment to improving care for seniors, as highlighted in our Action Plan released in February."
CEO of Fraser Health, Dr. Nigel Murray -
"It is important that as the technology of health care improves, that we move to adapt as well. The foldable intraocular lens is the new standard for cataract patients."
- In 2010-11, there were 51,887 cataract surgeries performed in British Columbia. Approximately 95 per cent of patients opted to receive non-standard lenses.
- Health Shared Services BC finds opportunities for health authorities to improve cost effectiveness and enhance service quality. By working collaboratively on common services, Health Shared Services BC ensures health authorities get the most value for every dollar spent.
For more information on coverage of lenses, please visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/msp/infoprac/
Further information on Health Shared Services BC is available at: www.hssbc.ca.
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)