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Better deal for glasses will save millions

Better deal for glasses will save millions

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says people using hardship assistance are in line to pay less for glasses and other optical services as a result of a new preferred supplier arrangement with opticians.

“We’re trying to keep people’s debt as low as possible, while at the same time ensuring they are still receiving cost effective optical goods and services that meet their clinical needs.

Mrs Bennett says the deal is also good news for the taxpayer.

“This initiative will see collectively less debt of around $21 million over five years for beneficiaries, pensioners and low income people as a result of this new preferred supplier arrangement.

“At the moment, the Ministry of Social Development lends about $8.7 million each year to people to buy glasses and other optical services through hardship grants that have to be repaid. The average amount lent is more than $500.00.

“The preferred supplier arrangement offers a discounted price for people eligible for this help, which in turn will see the bill to the taxpayer shrink, along with the debt the beneficiary has to repay,” she says.

The goods and services that come under the preferred supplier arrangement include fixed-cost eye examinations and the fitting of glasses frames and lenses. All new eye wear will be covered by a two year warranty.

The range of preferred suppliers will provide coverage across the country.

People can continue to use their current supplier for their ongoing eye care needs if they choose to use their own resources.

The rollout of the preferred supplier arrangement for optical goods and services will begin in May, with the whole country covered by the end of June 2014.
The preferred supplier agreements include the following suppliers:
Barrington Eye Care (independent)
Eye Pro Marketing (consortium bid covering 46 locations)
John O’Connor Optometrists (independent with three locations in Auckland)
The University of Auckland (independent with two locations in Auckland)
Visique (91 locations)
Specsavers (53 locations)

“The preferred supplier agreement on optical services is part of a wider programme to secure competitively priced goods and services for beneficiaries and achieve value for money in the welfare area,” says Mrs Bennett.

A preferred supplier arrangement for whiteware has already been rolled out successfully throughout New Zealand.

Ends

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