Physicians push back against new Aetna cataract surgery policy

Two professional organizations issued a joint statement voicing their opposition to Aetna's new policy that requires preapproval for all cataract surgeries.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery critiqued the policy change, which makes Aetna the first major health insurer to make such a move. The policy was made effective July 1.

According to the statement, Aetna would deem less than 5 percent of cataract surgeries unnecessary. 

The organizations said that delaying care through sweeping preapproval could mean the visual impairment associated with cataracts could decrease quality of life and increase risk of injury for patients. 

In the statement, the organizations said the policy rollout is "causing chaos at the doctor's office" and "threatening to erode trust between patients and physicians."

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