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    ODs’ top 4 gripes about vision care plans: Part 4—Competing with me for retail sales and patients

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    In order to continue this dialogue and in an attempt to help bring some clarity to the landscape around vision plans, I have put together this 5-part blog series.

    In Part 1, I outlined the 4 big topic areas where optometrists seem to have the most complaints with vison plans.

    In Part 2, we covered Does it have to be this difficult?

    In Part 3, we covered reimbursement.

    Previously from Dr. Spear: The benefits of cleaning out your practice

    For review, here are the four big gripes:

    1.Does it have to be this difficult?


    3.Competing with me for retail sales and patients

    4.Misleading and Misinformation

    In Part Four, let’s take a closer look at Gripe Number 3: Competing with me for retail sales.

    Competing for sales

    Optometrists are increasingly feeling pressure on their practices as vision care plans (VCPs) move toward a model that not only cuts reimbursements but also competes with them for patients, goods, and services.

    Recent vertical integrations combined with increasing overt online presence and direct marketing to patients is a common complaint among ODs.

    I posted on two optometry Facebook groups, ODs on Facebook and ODs on Practice Management and Insurance, asking for complaints about VCPs in preparation for a SECO lecture.

    Respondents expressed frustration with VCPs reducing service fees while at the same time potentially diverting their profits from materials.

    Related: ODs’ top 4 gripes about vision plans

    Here are some comments I received:

    • “Their newer ploy to drive patients to purchase their glasses or contact lenses online and use their benefit from the website the insurance owns.”

    • “Two that I know of are actively emailing patients about using their benefits online as soon as the exam authorization is pulled. We have resorted to waiting to pull those until patients are in office.”

    • “Promoting their own online contact lens sales when they are already giving me extremely low reimbursements.”

    • “Vertical integration means they push patients to their physical entities vs. private practice doctors.”

    Carl H. Spear, OD, MBA, FAAO
    Dr. Spear owns a multi-location group practice with his wife Dr. Katie Gilbert Spear in Pensacola, FL. Dr. Spear is commander of the ...


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