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EVER WONDER WHY YOU’VE BEEN CHARGING THE SAME AMOUNT ALL THESE YEARS?

SOME FOLKS STILL REMEMBER 29-cent gasoline and five-cent candy bars. It hasn’t been very long since 3 lbs of hamburgers sold for a dollar. The same house that changed hands for $30,000 in 1970 could sell for over $150,000 today. This theme of rising prices applies to the world of healthcare as well. Since 1980, annual dental fees have increased more than 130%. Similarly, average patient out-of-pocket spending has increased 10x. Yet, for some reason, eye exam fees have remained stagnant at $50-$100. Did dental exams become more critical than eye exams? We don’t think so! The true culprit in this scenario is inflation, which has silently weakened eye exam fees over the years.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. The key is “EXAM” optometry’s growth and sustainability is linked not to examination but TREATMENT. The numbers related to treatment of refractive error I would estimate stand up to inflation much better (example: glasses and contact lenses). If Optometric offices are to survive the next couple decades they will need to find a way to expand treatment services or win the materials battle for refreactive error.

  2. Too many of our colleagues rely on sales of materials and effectively “throw in a free exam.” I have been preaching about this for 25 years. It is a travesty and will cause the demise of many practices which leave themselves completely vulnerable to online eyeglass and contact sales. Add to that the fact that these practices continue to enslave themselves to unethical and greedy third party plans, and you have a recipe for failure. My exam fees have kept pace with other medical professionals every year of my practice. I look to other providers of preventative care to set my fees and my practice has flourished. I cannot stress enough just how important this article is. Pay attention folks, you’re falling asleep at the wheel.

  3. Will, I appreciate your analysis but its all for naught. The truth is that in our insurance dominated healthcare system, the last thing the insurers are looking to do is to increase your reimbursements. If i were an insurer, I wouldnt even talk to a doc who’s touting higher fees.

    The reality is that your fees will drop. Our challenge is to see they that don’t “drop” us out of existence. (I use out “out of existence” as a figure of speech)

    AF

  4. In my opinion this problem is made worse by the increase in the number of optometry schools. An over-supply of OD’s, especially when a hefty number of them have astronomical student loans. results in fewer optometrists going into private practice. The salary of a doctor employed by a mega chain is little influenced by the cost of an exam and their employer’s objective is to capture sales of materials. If there were no chains then pricing exams to keep up with inflation would be a lot more feasible and optometrists would indeed have more leverage with third party payors.
    The reality is those cows are not only out of the barn but they’ve left the pasture. The future of optometry, indeed it’s natural evolution, is to become a more medically oriented profession. The number of ophthalmologists is decreasing. Technology is making it easier for optometrists to fill the void in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease.
    I’m not suggesting that every optometrist has to adopt this model just as many ophthalmologists do not perform surgery. There is room for both modes of practice but I fear the chances of increasing the fees for “routine” exams to a level commensurate with the education, skill, and costs associated with running a practice – in this vision plan dominated environment – are slim.

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