a large vision plan came out with a new incarnation of one of its myriad plans.
We received many questions from our clients asking us if it made sense for them
to participate in this plan. As we usually do with these questions, we make our
recommendations based on two main considerations.
What to do?
The first thing to consider is how the plan will
fit with the practices' position in the market place. If the plan is heavily discounted
and the practice is well established and traditionally presents itself as a high-touch,
high-service, high-fee enterprise, we would advise against joining. For a younger
practice in a retail setting, the plan might be a perfect fit.
second consideration is purely economic. It's our belief that for most plans and
practices, if you can't cover operating expenses, then you probably shouldn't sign
up. There are, of course, exceptions.
It's this second consideration
I'd like to discuss and specifically, the frustration clients feel in trying to
determine if the new plan makes economic sense for them.
The blame game
Several different bright, capable doctors contacted
the vision plan and reported back to us with many different sets of data and interpretations.
Instead of a straightforward, "The plan will force us to take an X percent hit in
fees," we were besieged with complex spread sheets with no clear-cut conclusions.
What should have been a simple exercise turned into something analogous to interpreting
IRS tax code. And this led to all clients winding up in the same place frustrated.
How they dealt with it was interesting.
One took it out on the vision care plan phone attendant. Another blamed his partner
for even thinking of signing-up. Another blamed herself for poor business management
skills. Regardless of where the blame was placed, the frustration was real and palpable.
This example of an O.D. dealing with a monolithic
insurance conglomerate brings up just one of many issues business owner O.D.s need
to deal with. Staff scheduling, brutally ruthless competition and clinically challenging
patients only add fuel to the fire of frustration. These issues are not likely to
abate soon, so learning how to deal with frustration is critical to your practice
success and personal psyche.
Start (and usually end) by trying to
find the real source of the problem. In our example, given these doctors were not
numerically challenged, blame can probably be fairly placed on the poor quality
information they received. Blaming themselves or someone else doesn't appear to
be reasonable here.
The next step is to non-emotionally
examine how the core issue fits into the big picture of your practice. In our first
practice above (highly customer-service driven), it would have been smart to hang-up
on the plan's customer service representative after repeated unsuccessful attempts
to get a straight answer. For the other practice, while it's frustrating to deal
with a bureaucracy, the doctor should recognize that it's not his fault he can't
get a straight answer, not their insurance biller's fault or anyone else's. From
there, he should use the frustration energy to start a potential plan to allow him
a future in which he won't have to deal with the next confusing plan that comes
his way. That planning may very well include drawing a line in the sand and rejecting
this current plan.
DR. GERBER IS THE
PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING
IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN
MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER
AT (800) 867-9303.