Consider Preventive Care Insurance for GP Wearers
BY BRAD GIEDD, OD, MS, FAAO
If you're like me, insurance plays a significant role in your life, both personally and professionally. But in many cases, insurance is a losing proposition and rarely one I'm enthusiastic about. In its truest form, insurance should be a ‘win-win’ proposition, although most of us would probably agree this is generally not the case especially in our professional dealings.
A Win-Win Plan
I wanted to remind you of one type of insurance that can still have the win-win effect you desire for both your practice and your patients. Offering insurance to your patients who wear GP lenses and especially to those wearing specialty GP designs can serve as an excellent way to provide an extra level of service, an additional layer of security and an alternative avenue for improving patient retention and practice profitability.
In the past, contact lens insurance, or Preventive Care Plans (PCPs) as we call them in our practice, were much more popular. The advent of disposable lenses and the diminishing costs associated with these products made many such plans obsolete as larger lens supplies created built-in ‘spares’ and access to diagnostic trials negated the cost-effectiveness of these insurance plans.
GP lenses have in some cases seen similar cost decreases, but patients still replace them on a more conventional schedule and the more expensive specialty designs often cause patients some anxiety when they consider the full replacement cost for a lost or damaged lens.
Benefits of PCPs
My practice uses our annual PCP to accomplish several things. First, for patients who really want to consider specialty contact lenses such as GP torics, multifocals and post-surgical designs, the PCP will often be the final piece of the puzzle in helping them make the proactive decision.
While individual practices will obviously establish their own plan benefits, our plan typically includes a substantial discount on lens replacements during the annual period as well as discounts on contact lens solutions and optical eye wear including sunglasses. In addition, we include any ‘red eye’ clinic visits during the plan period. Finally, as a way to promote patient retention and keep our GP patients on annual schedules, we waive contact lens update fees for the following year's exam provided it's completed within an established annual window. Patients can renew their annual insurance plans for a slightly reduced fee from the initial purchase as long as they continue to adhere to the annual exam schedule.
Contact lens insurance plans can be designed to fit the financial needs and practice philosophy of any practice that works with GP lenses. For my practice, these plans have and continue to provide a way of promoting the use of standard and specialty GP lenses, adding value to the services and products we provide and giving patients who might otherwise be hesitant to try these products the peace of mind they seek when making the financial investment that many of these products require.
For those of you who fit these lenses but have not up until now offered any type of insurance, I encourage you to consider adding a PCP of your own to your practice's offerings. You will be amazed by how many patients gladly accept your plan. Such patients are especially grateful for it the first time they lose or break a GP multifocal contact lens and realize the savings they've received by investing in that seemingly most distasteful of products…insurance. CLS
Dr. Giedd entered private practice with the Eye Associates of Winter Park in 2000, where he specializes in fitting specialty contact lenses and also performs contact lens-related clinical research.