Optometric Management Tip # 363   -   Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Seeing the Good in Vision Plans

While we are often accustomed to hearing complaints from eye care providers about vision plans, I thought it was time to acknowledge some of the good things.

  1. In tough economic times, vision plans keep patients coming in the door for routine eye care. Many private pay patients will simply postpone routine care if they feel a financial pinch.
  2. Vision plans can provide significant patient volume and most practices need it. Many ECPs look at the discounts they provide to vision plans as a marketing cost. From a business standpoint, I look at the lower fee schedule as a volume discount. If a vision plan does not provide much patient volume, I would question the benefit of participating.
  3. Many vision plan patients have other eye care needs. All we have to do is identify those needs and fulfill them. After all, these people are already in your office! Examples of unmet wants and needs may include medical eye care, additional visual or optical products beyond the covered elements, contact lenses, vision therapy and low vision. That is a lot of opportunity!

Evaluating profitability

It's a good idea to conduct your own profitability analysis on the vision plan segment of your practice. As you do this, you'll see that it's not as easy as you might think. Here are some important nuances that are frequently overlooked.

Increasing profitability

We would all like to see higher fees paid by vision plans, but since we can't directly control that, all you can do is decide if plan participation is in your best interest or not. Once you decide to opt in, here are three basic strategies that will increase your gross and net revenues with vision plan patients.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management