April 2, 2019
If you think of your vision plan as being just like your medical insurance, you may need to think again.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, vision plans are actually better described as a “discount program” provided by companies that own and sell eyewear.
Some of these programs encourage plan participants to purchase products directly from their own retailers and discourage them from supporting the independent vision clinics they visit for their eyecare.
These discount plans solicit their own products rather than promote the best quality products on the market. In doing so, they are limiting members’ choices to those which they own. In fact, at least one of these vision discount plans has opened its own optical retail locations to sell its own brands of eyewear.
That’s right. An “insurance” company owns retail locations and sells its own brands of prescription glasses directly to consumers.
This conflict of interest has gotten the attention of at least one consumer, who also happens to write for the Los Angeles Times.
“All health insurers have their own networks of doctors. But they generally don't also run the hospital you're visiting or manufacture the medical equipment used.” [LA Times article]
Last July, East Main Vision Clinic took the final step to declare independence from these discount vision plans.
Now, as a truly independent vision clinic, we are under no obligation to sell our patients inferior, bulk products. In fact, a large percentage of our frame inventory is supplied by independent frame lines, which supports small businesses in communities like ours. Our independently owned lab supplies our patients with the highest quality lens options on the market.
How much does it cost to operate an independent optometry practice? Rent, utilities, staff pay, cost of glasses, contacts, and other products, office supplies, building maintenance, environmental fees, ongoing education, technology and instrumentation… The list goes on and on and these costs add up to hundreds of dollars an hour.
How much do you think an eye doctor should be compensated for his or her expertise, examination, recommendations, prescriptions, and patient counselling? These discount plans reimburse in-network doctors as little as $50 per patient.
The math says it all. A doctor who participates in vision discount plans would have to see as many as 5 patients every hour just to stay in business.
By declaring our independence from these plans, we are now able to see fewer patients per hour and devote more time and attention to each patient who comes through our doors. We are able to offer the highest quality products and materials regardless of which discount vision plan our patients have.
There’s more good news.
No matter which vision plan you have, you and your plan are still welcome at East Main Vision Clinic.
We have chosen to be an out-of-network provider because many of these vision plans do not allow us to offer the level of care, high quality products, and services that we insist on offering to all of our patients. In many cases, these plans include stipulations that we only use their labs and products, most of which are lower quality and often take much longer.
We utilize a unique system that allows us to access and process your out-of-network benefits without being contracted with these vision plans.
In some cases, using your out-of-network benefit may cost you more. However, most vision plans have begun to charge consumers higher premiums, and offer much less coverage for products and services. This means that wherever you use your benefits, you may still have to pay more than you did in previous years, especially if you value quality.
The level of care we insist on providing is not an option while in network with discount vision plans. If this resonates with you and you want a different, better experience, call us. We absolutely know you will have an amazing experience.
No one should own the market on your vision.