Insights From Our Editors

How Many Children Are In Need of an Eye Exam?

July 1, 2015

Research cited by Vision Source’s Navigation Guide to Health Care Reform has shown that only 7 percent of children entering first grade had received an eye exam and that undiagnosed vision problems among youth can lead to reduced academic performance. Analysis also indicated that simple screenings were insufficient to detect many vision issues.

For the first time in our lives, vision care is no longer optional. The government, in the Affordable Care Act, calls pediatric vision essential! The Essential Pediatric Vision Benefit is a tremendous step forward in helping us communicate to parents the essential nature of an annual vision examination. Every child from birth through age 18 (it stops on their 19th birthday) can have an annual eye exam and either a pair of glasses or contact lenses.

The numbers are not good when looking at how well people with insurance coverage seek care. Utilization rates for voluntary plans is about 35 percent. Union plan utilization drops down to 25 percent. Health plans with an embedded eye exam in a routine health visit has utilization bottoming out at 15 percent.

It is important to realize that just because third party coverage exists, it does not mean people will take advantage of it. As you can see from the utilization numbers, the majority of people, even with coverage, do not seek care. The numbers clearly show us the need for educating people about the value of routine vision care.

The second message that we can take from these utilization numbers is how much potential exists in the marketplace. We have only scratched the surface. We definitely need to dig deeper. Imagine what would happen to your practice if you could only double the utilization rates for people in your area.

To get more people to utilize their vision care coverage you need an effective marketing plan. An effective marketing plan should include the following three messages:

1) Here’s how your life will be improved as a result of having an eye exam.

2) If you have vision care benefits in your plan, if you do not use them, you are leaving money on the table. The money for the vision care exam has already been taken out of your paycheck. Here’s a nice tag line: You lose it, if you don’t use it.

3) You need an immediate call to action. If you are in the digital world, it’s “click here.” If you are in the print world, it’s “call now.”

Let’s take this week to make sure our internal and external marketing is effectively promoting the message of the essential nature of vision examinations.

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