A reader, who happens to visit many optometrist's offices, sent me a copy of VSP's Promotional Literature for their individual plan. This is the plan where VSP goes directly to consumers and convinces them that they can buy eye care and eyewear at a discount. The premiums for this plan are, of course, paid directly to VSP. Then, VSP shares these premiums with the provider in the form of paltry reimbursements. VSP, of course, says that they're driving new patients to their providers and everyone wins. The consumer gets a discount. The provider gets a new patient. And VSP gets a boatload of money.
Sounds like a logical plan.
But here's the amazing part. This brochure was picked up in a provider's office. Yep, right there in the waiting room. This astute provider was telling his patients "Hey, you don't have to pay me what I usually charge, just join up with VSP and you can get a discount."
There are two seriously big concerns with this. First, VSP is no longer moving patients exclusively to private practice optometry…nope. Today, they own their own retail operation within the Cisco Campus (not likely the one and only); they're sending your patients to COSTCO; and soon, logic says, they'll be sending more to COSTCO and others as VSP and the likes of COSTCO plot to develop a special plan designed exclusively for COSTCO members.
The other problem with this is that this particular provider has already secured the patient. If they simply WOWed the patient, they wouldn't have to worry about the patient going elsewhere for service. Why would you sell against yourself?
According to our research, the difference between gross charges and collected dollars has eroded by eleven percentage points over just the past five years. That means that you have eleven percent fewer dollars to pay your staff; your overhead; yourself. And it's not like you can make it up on volume; since VSP now demands additional discounts for second pair sales.
THROW OUT THOSE BROCHURES! Fill the landfills. It's time to cry "we're sick and tired and aren't going to take it anymore!"