Last week, I talked about having written policies for patients and I listed some broad topics that are well served by this concept. Today, I’ll present some office policies from my practice, which can serve as samples for you to build yours. My policies will help you with the wording and give you some ideas for consideration. You may want to preprint some of your policies on the back of your receipt slip.
The policies described below lay out some important rules that we want to follow with our patients, but I want to share a little secret about that: we don’t always follow our own rules! I’ll dig deeper into this in the next Tip article, but we make exceptions to our policies fairly often! I built my practice on fantastic customer service and we simply let patients win when there is a disagreement.
This approach is fairly brilliant really. We have written policies that are somewhat tough and they work on about 95% of our patients, but if a patient ever thinks a policy is not fair, we usually make an exception and let him have his way. I realize that making exceptions to office policies may seem like it opens a big can of worms. Is it fair to the people who play by the rules? How will staff know what to do? Does giving in breed more bad behavior? All good questions, but you’ll have to tune in next week for my answers.
Read on for the sample policies.
About Your Insurance
There are two types of health insurance that will help pay for your eye care services and optical products. You may have both types and Gailmard Eye Center accepts most insurance plans in both categories: 1) Vision plans (such as VSP, EyeMed and others) and 2) Medical insurance (such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare and others).
• Vision plans only cover routine vision wellness exams, along with eyeglasses and contact lenses. Vision plans do not cover medical eye care (the diagnosis, management or treatment of eye health problems).
• Medical insurance must be used for medical eye care.
• If you have both types of insurance plans it may be necessary for us to bill some services to one plan and some services to the other. We will follow a procedure called coordination of benefits to do this properly and to minimize your out-of-pocket expense.
• If some fees are not paid by your insurance, we will bill you for them, such as deductibles, co-pays or non-covered services as allowed by the insurance contract.
Please provide your insurance cards to our staff member so we can make a copy. We need to have your medical insurance or Medicare card on file for future billings to your insurance. We will always notify you and get your approval before we bill any insurance plan.
Eyeglass and Contact Lens Return Policy
Professional fees, such as exam fees or contact lens fitting fees, represent payments for services that were rendered (even if not successful) and are not refundable.
Eyeglass lenses are custom made devices and are not refundable, but we will be happy to correct any problems you may experience. See the section below on Doctor’s Rx changes for more information. Frames may be returned for exchange within 30 days if in perfect condition, but if new lenses are required for the new frame, a lab service charge will apply equal to 20% of the lens cost.
Prepackaged contact lenses may only be returned if the original packaging is not opened or written upon. Returned low vision aids must have the original packaging and will be assessed a 20% restocking fee.
Eyeglass Rx Changes
• For prescriptions written by other doctors: Eyeglass lenses will be remade one time at no charge if the prescribing doctor provides a new prescription in writing within 30 days of dispensing. Rx changes after one free remake or after 30 days will be charged the usual lens price.
• For prescriptions by doctors at Gailmard Eye Center: An office visit to recheck the prescription will be provided and new lenses will be made at no charge within 30 days of dispensing. Recheck visits after 30 days will be charged the usual fee for a brief exam.
• If a Gailmard Eye Center prescription is filled elsewhere, and an Rx change is needed, we will not be responsible for any charges incurred. Most reputable optical dispensaries allow doctor Rx changes at no charge, but it is up to the patient to inquire about such policies in advance of purchase.
Progressive Addition Lens Non-adapt Policy
All progressive addition lenses (also called invisible or no-line multifocals) have a slight optical distortion in the outer portions of the lens, which can make some objects appear bowed or curved, or can cause a feeling of motion when the head is turned. The reading zone of progressive lenses is wide enough for most purposes, but it may be narrower than other bifocal styles. While most people are not bothered by these characteristics, some will find it unacceptable even after a one to two week adaptation period. If you cannot adapt to progressive addition lenses, we will make new lenses in any other design that you wish, within 30 days of dispensing, at no charge. Since the original lenses were a custom prescription item, there are no refunds of the difference in cost if the remade pair is of lesser value.
Policy for Making New Lenses for a Patient's Old Frame
• We cannot be responsible for breakage when we reuse a patient's old frame to manufacture and insert new lenses.
• We will use the utmost care if we accept a patient's frame, but in a small percentage of cases the frame parts or material will be worn or brittle to the point that it will not support a new lens.
• Older frames are usually discontinued by the manufacturer and replacement parts are generally not available. Putting new lenses into an old frame may create a pair of glasses that cannot be repaired later.
• If a patient's frame breaks during our handling, the purchase of a new frame is the patient's expense. We may have to discard the first pair of lenses made for the original frame, but no additional charge will be assessed for lenses.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.