September 2016
Volume 57, Issue 12
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Disparities in eyeglass insurance coverage in Canada
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gordon Ngo
    Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Graham Eric Trope
    Cell Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Yvonne M Buys
    Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Yaping Jin
    Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Gordon Ngo, None; Graham Trope, None; Yvonne Buys, None; Yaping Jin, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  CIHR HRA 126901; CIHR SEC 117120
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science September 2016, Vol.57, 3971. doi:
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      Gordon Ngo, Graham Eric Trope, Yvonne M Buys, Yaping Jin; Disparities in eyeglass insurance coverage in Canada. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):3971.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Purpose : Over half of Canadians report vision problems requiring corrective lenses, but the cost of eyeglasses is not covered by government and requires out-of-pocket payment or insurance coverage. We report on patterns of eyeglass insurance with regard to socio-demographic status and place of residence.

Methods : Using self-reported data from the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey (n=134,072), we compared eyeglass insurance coverage between Canadians from different socio-demographic groups. The insurance coverage surveyed included private, government or employer-paid plans. The prevalence, prevalence ratio (PR) and their 95% confidence intervals were used to assess the differences.

Results : Overall, 55.0% of Canadians aged 12+ have insurance covering all or part of the costs of corrective lenses. This coverage is lower than insurance for prescription medications (78.8%), dental care (61.0%) and hospital fees for a private or semi-private room (61.8%). School age children (63.3%) and the working age groups 20-39 (55.9%) and 40-64 (59.5%) have higher insurance coverage than seniors (33.8%, p<0.05). Canadians residing in the three territories have the highest coverage (76.9%) while those in Quebec have the lowest (39.1%, p<0.05). Compared to immigrants (47.3%), non-immigrants (57.4%, p<0.05) have 10.1 more individuals with insurance per 100 people. Compared to non-whites (49.2%), white Canadians (56.4%, p<0.05) have 7.2 additional individuals with insurance per 100 people. There is no significant difference in insurance coverage between men (55.7%) and women (54.3%, p>0.05). Among Canadians in the 20-64 age group, individuals with middle or high income are 55% (adjusted PR 1.55, p<0.05) more likely to have insurance than those with low income after adjusting for ethnicity and immigrant status. Compared to those with less than secondary school education, individuals with secondary school education are 11% (adjusted PR 1.11, p<0.05) more likely and individuals with university or college education are 21% (adjusted PR 1.21, p<0.05) more likely to have insurance coverage.

Conclusions : Significant disparities exist in eyeglass insurance coverage in Canada. Individuals with low levels of income, low levels of education, seniors, immigrants, non-whites and residents of Quebec have less coverage. Studies are needed to understand if these disparities contribute to the visual impairment burden in Canada.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.

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