If I was a Standalone Vision Plan…

As far back as year or more, a well-known standalone vision plan (“WKSAVP”) knew that their political fortunes had slowly turned southwards. First it was their reclassification from a tax-exempt non-profit to a taxable not-for-profit by the Federal Government. Now an equally menacing prospect has arisen. In the new Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) their plight will be complicated because of their likely exclusion as standalone in any of the state health insurance exchanges. If I was that WKSAVP, would or should I have done something different?

I don’t’ have the ear of management nor do I have any more inside information than any other regular doctor. However, like a doctor who sees someone on television struggling, some guesses and recommendations can evolve.

I see “hope” as being an overriding attribute in the public persona of this WKSAVP. First, they hope that they can recapture their tax-exempt status. Second, they seem also to hope that their public awareness program can rouse its member doctors to exert political influence not unlike a grassroots campaign to get themselves into the door despite either disenchantment from the doctors or different strategies from strong optometric organizations.

Either of the two isn’t likely to bear fruit. What might though, is an admission that this WKSAVP hasn’t done a good enough job in dealing with their doctors and that they must pursue alternative strategies to remain a practical alternative for pre-paid vision benefits.

Like an aging consumer goods company with an excellent distribution channel (the panel doctors), this WKSAVP can recapture the hearts of their distributors by either asking them to join in a new direction, a new strategy and a new plan for the future (whatever that might be). They can also seek new services or products other than prepaid vision benefits that might further funnel patients to panel doctors.

The alternatives seem clear to me. It’s just like anyone who might be dealt a raw deal. I could spend all of my time trying to complain about it. Or I can start planning for the future like any good military officer or doctor would do.

To reference this post, use this link,  http://bit.ly/vFPcs1

About Richard Hom OD, MPA

Dr. Hom holds Doctor of Optometry and Masters in Public Administration degrees and practices family eye care and consults on public policy, health information technology and program evaluation.
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2 Responses to If I was a Standalone Vision Plan…

  1. WKSAVP can recapture the hearts of their distributors by either asking them to join in a new direction, a new strategy and a new plan for the future (whatever that might be). They can also seek new services or products other than prepaid vision benefits that might further funnel patients to panel doctors

    Ahh, there’s the rub. In order for drs to get behind WKSAVP a definite action plan must be developed and presented. The developers must include representatives from the vision plan, buyers of their products and panel doctors. The doctors should be persons whose lives are most affected by these plans, i.e., drs. who see patients on a daily basis rather than someone whose last drop was a replacement for an unplayable golf ball.
    And let’s not forget the other 1000lb gorilla in the room with it’s monopolistic vertical integration. Are they within the law, walking a legal slippery slope or being allowed to operate contrary to US fair trade regulations? Most private practice ODs would argue the latter but admittedly ours is a myopic view. Perhaps WKSAVP should use its monetary muscle to commission an independent study of the competition’s modus operandi and, good or bad, make it public. No matter what the intentions of WKSAVP its options will always be limited (dictated?) by that competition’s practices.

  2. While all the attention is on WKSAVP, our collective backs are turned and the profession is slowly being taken over and monopolized by the very organization put in place to protect it. Too much focus and worry about WKSAVP. That’ll be the least of our worries if the AOA can’t ensure any-willing-provider and no discrimination in reimbursement, but forces WKSAVP out of eye care and all “routine” eye care into the medical plans and exchanges, which will/are MD run. Better start being very nice to your local ophthalmologists, because one of them will likely be your boss!

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