a hand holds a pen, ready to sign a contract

The ACAO is committed to providing health service to those in need…

There are different rules for billing and claiming health services for different people in Canada. The ACAO has contracts with several health service programs to make it easier for some groups to claim their eye care costs. You will find information about the different programs, and links to further information in the sections below. If you have questions about the contracts please email


Alberta Blue Cross

a blue cross, the logo for Alberta Blue Cross

Our Partners in providing care…

The ACAO has contracts with Alberta Blue Cross to provide health services to various groups of people. The Alberta Blue Cross website has a list of groups that receive health benefits. It also has instructions on the billing time-frame. Many of the groups that receive health benefits from the Government of Canada partner with Medavie Blue Cross to provide a direct billing option.




Opting Out

a hammer laying next to a broken piggy bank

When you have to balance financial obligations with financial relief…

As much as we would love for every optician to be in a position to offer these services at every location, the reality is that sometimes it’s not possible. We know that it can be especially hard for smaller businesses and independent stores to make ends meet when the contract doesn’t cover the extra expense on some jobs.

While we encourage you to participate in these programs, if you find that you need to opt out, you should inform the contractor in writing that you will be unable to participate in ANY part of the contract; this is in the interest of fairness. You can’t agree to do the simpler jobs and refuse the harder, more expensive ones, because it is inequitable to those patients who require extra care.

You may also discuss these issues with the negotiations committee chair. The negotiations committee chair works with the contracts and points out any issue of disparity to the payers.

We hope that future contracts will be able to cover the full cost of everything their patients need. In the meantime, we encourage you to participate, if possible, for the sake of those who rely on these programs to receive proper care.




Alberta Human Services

 a smiling child

The name will change, but the service will continue…

The Alberta Human Services Contract has been extended to July 1st, 2017. This contract covers “Independence, AISH, Children’s Services and Child Health Benefits.” Alberta Human Services recently split into two ministries, “Community and Social Services” and “Children’s Services.” We will update this section as we receive more information.




Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB)

Non-Insured Health Benefits logo

Health services for our nation’s first peoples…

For First Nations and Inuit peoples who qualify, NIHB covers eye services. The ACAO honours optometry’s enrollment with the NIHB, so opticians in Alberta can usually bill the program directly. Patients who qualify should have client identification. For more information about the Non-Insured Health Benefits program, visit the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch page on the Health Canada website.

Click here for the NIHB Eye and Vision Products and Services Prior Approval and Claims form.

**Click here for a PDF of the  Memo from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch regarding the NIHB Vision Benefits &  the Verification of Services form .**





Veterans Affairs

 entwined poppies and canadian leaf -- the veterans affairs logo

For those who served our country…

Veterans Affairs Canada partners with Medavie Blue Cross to give health benefits to Veterans, and the ACAO has a contract to bill them directly for eye care services. The Veterans affairs website says: “For most benefits, your provider will need your signature to confirm that you received their services. It is important that you only sign after you have received the service.” Veterans should have their VAC health card with them.




Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

RCMP logo

For those who continue to serve…

The RCMP has a national health benefits plan that may supplement their provincial plans. Our contract allows you to bill qualifying members’ eye care services through Medavie Blue Cross. The national health benefits plan covers public service pensioners, too. So, some retired RCMP officers and their families may also qualify.




Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)

a citizenship and immigration form

For those new to our country…

The ACAO has a contract with Medavie Blue Cross for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). Some recent immigrants and refugees qualify for IFHP relief, including eye care services. The IFHP website recommends that before providing services, you verify that your patient is covered every time you see them. The IFHP is a temporary program, and a patient may no longer be eligible since their last visit. You will not be able to bill for any services provided for those no longer covered under the IFHP.