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I wonder how eye doctors are going to stay in business


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I went to the eye doctor today. They have recently sold their practice so they are now part of some huge new stupidly named chain. 


I wear RGP lenses. Last year I paid (I went back to look) $19.25 for a pair (after the $80 insurance allowance for new contacts). So that is less than $20 for two lenses.

This year? If I want to get new lenses, I can order them through the eye doctor at $135/lens. Yep. More than two lenses last year. So, my insurance allowance has increased to $115, but I now have to pay a $15 co-pay. So, two new lenses will be $170. When I told the lady that I paid maybe $16 last year, she said, "Oh, wait, you do get a 15% discount." I'm still looking at $144.50. 

So I come home and look online. I can get one lens for $37 plus shipping but there is a 20% discount. So, I can either pay the Eye place $144.50 after my insurance allowance, or I can order two lenses for $60 + shipping with no shipping. 

What to do? What to do? I know what I'm going to do. 

This makes no sense. Why would anyone purchase their contacts through the eye doctor? We haven't purchased glasses from them for years as it is so much cheaper to buy online. I think they are pricing themselves out of business with their add-on services. 

ETA: Our insurance did just add a few online sites we can purchase glasses and contacts from so we don't have to purchase from the local way overpriced eye doctor and still be able to access our allowance for glasses or contacts. However, none of them sell RGP lenses. 

Edited by Bambam
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It really depends on the insurance coverage and price of lenses.  My contact lenses are twice as expensive from the eye doctor BUT if I order them online myself my insurance won't reimburse them.  I have to order directly from the eye doctor to get the benefit, so getting 75% of my yearly supply covered by my insurance company is better than 0% covered if I order directly.  Same thing with glasses.  If I order online the insurance doesn't reimburse but if I visit the eye doctor and order from them, it covered all but maybe $100 on a fairly expensive pair of glasses.   I figure the eye insurance is probably in cahoots with the "preferred providers" somehow - but since several of us in the family use the eye doctor every year, we come out ahead on exams and glasses/contacts even with the premium factored in.  I'm sure many people opt in for the eye insurance and then never use it or only get a basic exam...which is how the insurance company still makes money .

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We've purchased our lenses and glasses from Costco and elsewhere for at least the last twenty years. AFAIK, most make their money off of providing services rather than providing products.....ie people pay for the convenience of not having to make a second stop or for the familiarity of the provider.  There may be a better quality of glasses lenses provided as well, since it's all in how the optics are done.

Really, though, my ophthalmologist makes his money off of his surgeries and procedures and off of how quickly he can churn through his patient load in a day.  

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Due to my prescription, including astigmatism and prisms in both eyes, I can't order online. Most online places won't take scripts with prisms. I need to go to a good clinic to ensure I'm looking through the right part of the lens. My glasses always run about $500, even with good eye insurance. 

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2 hours ago, wilrunner said:

Due to my prescription, including astigmatism and prisms in both eyes, I can't order online. Most online places won't take scripts with prisms. I need to go to a good clinic to ensure I'm looking through the right part of the lens. My glasses always run about $500, even with good eye insurance. 

I can empathize with this so very much! I have severe myopia, astigmatism and vitreous detachment. I get my eye glasses through a place that my ophthalmologist recommends. It is almost this expensive. Places like Costco, WalMart, Target and the online places simply don't make what I need. I am putting off getting a new pair right now, because I really need to get a pair of sunglasses. My parents both had macular degeneration and I need to protect my eyes from the sun. I think they need to wrap around to the sides for that and I think II will need a pair of sunglasses for outside and a regular  pair for inside. I don't think I can put it off much longer, so I probably need to do this before the year is up.

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1 hour ago, TechWife said:

I can empathize with this so very much! I have severe myopia, astigmatism and vitreous detachment. I get my eye glasses through a place that my ophthalmologist recommends. It is almost this expensive. Places like Costco, WalMart, Target and the online places simply don't make what I need. I am putting off getting a new pair right now, because I really need to get a pair of sunglasses. My parents both had macular degeneration and I need to protect my eyes from the sun. I think they need to wrap around to the sides for that and I think II will need a pair of sunglasses for outside and a regular  pair for inside. I don't think I can put it off much longer, so I probably need to do this before the year is up.

And besides, 2020 is the year of vision, yes? Seems perfect timing to me!

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7 hours ago, wilrunner said:

Due to my prescription, including astigmatism and prisms in both eyes, I can't order online. Most online places won't take scripts with prisms. I need to go to a good clinic to ensure I'm looking through the right part of the lens. My glasses always run about $500, even with good eye insurance. 

 

This is my situation as well. It's so outrageously expensive. I just get new lenses in old frames, with insurance, and it's still close to that. The lenses themselves are the expensive part.

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Commiserating.

Our family has to utilize the doctor's office too--they are the only place that will be sure to get my son's Rx right. He has double lazy eye, significant astigmatism, and is at risk for a host of issues. He often needs a new Rx every six months. He might benefit from bifocals, but there isn't a guarantee, and he's not currently in brick and mortar school, so he's not trying to look at a board and his paper back and forth. If we add no line bifocals to his glasses, we'd be looking at tons of money per year! We'll be asking for IEP accomodations instead of bifocals for now, and we're going to check with our state's vocational rehab office to see if they'll pay for bifocals in the future. I have heard they sometimes pay for special glasses if it's directly a result of a medical condition, and his case, it is. We'll see! 

 

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Well, I'll be honest and say they sell to people like me. I always buy through my eye doctor. We get insurance every other year and we all go for exams. In the past 10 years, I've only had my prescription change twice, minor changes. I have no desire to price glasses online or go to a separate shop. It's just much easier to get my exam and glasses at the same time.  My insurance only pays $150 towards glasses and lenses so I usually a lot out of pocket. I guess since I don't get a new pair every year, it just doesn't faze me.

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Even when ordering online, you are still going to need a prescription from an eye doctor. So we will always need them for exams. I would imagine that the cost of exams will go up  if the profits they are making from the lenses and glasses diminishes. 

I have eye insurance and can get new frames every two years. I usually get a frame at my eye doctor's office that will be 100% covered by my insurance company.  I am going to need bifocals this year, so I know I'm going to be paying out more for the lenses. I don't think I'll go the progressive route because I am prone to dizziness/vertigo already. 

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3 hours ago, Night Elf said:

Well, I'll be honest and say they sell to people like me. I always buy through my eye doctor. We get insurance every other year and we all go for exams. In the past 10 years, I've only had my prescription change twice, minor changes. I have no desire to price glasses online or go to a separate shop. It's just much easier to get my exam and glasses at the same time.  My insurance only pays $150 towards glasses and lenses so I usually a lot out of pocket. I guess since I don't get a new pair every year, it just doesn't faze me.

This is me. I've never found lenses I like online, and though I've sometimes used local inexpensive places (BJ's, Walmart, 20/20 Eyeglass) I always come back to my eye doctor. 

I'm not one who is brand loyal and I'll always reach for generic, knock offs, dupes, etc. However there are some things I'm willing to pay more for and eyeglasses are one of those things. I know that some of what I'm paying for is convenience, but sometimes I'm also getting better quality and more personal service.

3 hours ago, mom31257 said:

 

I have eye insurance and can get new frames every two years. I usually get a frame at my eye doctor's office that will be 100% covered by my insurance company.  I am going to need bifocals this year, so I know I'm going to be paying out more for the lenses. I don't think I'll go the progressive route because I am prone to dizziness/vertigo already. 

Mine covers every two years as well. Sometimes my glasses last longer because my prescription rarely changes. If my prescription didn't change and I still like my frames I just get an exam and keep my current glasses. Insurance covers either eyeglasses or contacts but not both. It usually works out better for me to use insurance on my glasses and pay for my contacts out of pocket. My eye doctor has a nice selection of frames that are within the insurance price range so I rarely have to pay extra for frames. Every once in a while I'll find a pair over the insurance amount that I really like but they're usually only $20 or $30 more. Insurance covers my progressive lenses but they don't cover the extras I get like blue light filter, transition so I don't need a pair of prescription sunglasses (which they don't cover) and scratch resistant material. 

Re the bolded: I don't want to talk you into something but I have benign positional vertigo that comes and goes and don't have a problem with progressive lenses. There's a little bit when I first get a new pair but I usually adjust quickly. It's too bad there isn't a way to try it out, but if you're interested in progressive you might talk to your eye doctor about it.

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3 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

Re the bolded: I don't want to talk you into something but I have benign positional vertigo that comes and goes and don't have a problem with progressive lenses. There's a little bit when I first get a new pair but I usually adjust quickly. It's too bad there isn't a way to try it out, but if you're interested in progressive you might talk to your eye doctor about it.

Thanks. I will talk to the doctor. 

I had a lady at the Walmart vision center tell me that if I have dizziness issues, I shouldn't get progressives. I was just talking to her because I hadn't been there in a while because they aren't on my list of providers anymore. And my sister, who doesn't deal with vertigo, got a pair and could never get past the dizziness and had to get new glasses. 

Both of those things caused me to believe I shouldn't even try. I certainly can't afford to try it and see if I'll end up paying for even more.  

Edited by mom31257
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Dh and I went to get glasses today at a place we'd never been before. I knew I wanted the Chemistrie glasses again because I don't want to use bifocals. They have a system that layers lenses using magnetic clip-ons. So the distance vision is my regular glasses. Then I can add a clip-on for my reading glasses. I also added a sunglasses clip-on for about $75 more. My previous pair of Chemistrie glasses used the Chemistrie frames and this optician said I could choose any pair I wanted and they'll create the clip-ons based on the shape of those glasses. I'm curious about how well the clip-ons will fit with the glasses, specifically how the nose piece will look. The reason I'm posting, though, is that the cost was significantly less than I expected! They were only $375, not the $500+ I'd been expecting! Getting what I want rather than just what I need for less than I usually pay is a big bonus!

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