By Gregory Usdan, OD
Oct. 30, 2019
The end of the year means preparing for the holidays and–if you’re a savvy practice leader–preparing to capture patients’ flex-spending account dollars.
Patients with FSA accounts need to spend that money before the year ends. Here’s how to show them that they could use it to purchase eyewear in your optical.
The Value of FSA Spending in Our Practice
Revenue for flex spending can be as much as $250,000 a year in our practice. Many of these patients have a use-it-or-lose-it spending account (FSA), and someone who might usually spend just whatever their insurance covers, is likely to use thousands of dollars that will disappear if they do not use it. Most of these patients will know exactly how much they have to spend to the penny, and they will use it all.
About 80 percent of FSA dollar spending in our practice comes in the last two weeks of December
What Can I Suggest FSA Dollars Be Spent On?
As a doctor, if my staff has already indicated on the record the patient has FSA dollars they need to spend, I will discuss products that might be useful to them based on the patient’s prescription.
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People might opt for prescription sport sunglasses for fishing or goggles for skiing, maybe treating themselves to something they would not typically buy on an annual visit. The patient might buy a two-year supply of daily contact lenses, or this may be an opportunity to switch the monthly contact-lens patient to a daily disposable contact lens. It is also a great time to introduce your patient to a specialty spectacle lens product, better progressive designs, new Transitions products, blue-light protection or another spectacle-lens upgrade.
Opportunity in Big Local Employers Who Offer FSA Benefits
Our practice is in close proximity to large companies that have FSA benefits that must be used by the end of April, when the companies’ fiscal year ends. I can recall when there was a buyout of a major hotel company about five years ago. The headquarter was located a few blocks from our office and had close to 1,200 employees. They were informed of the buyout, and had 90 days to use their FSA dollars that had just been funded fully a month prior.
So, less than a few blocks from our office we had 1,200 employees with thousands of dollars to spend. We were able to get in touch with the company’s human resources executive, and we were able to pass our name to the company’s employees, along with all of the products that we could offer for them to spend their FSA dollars on.
It was our largest production month ever to date, we were in the right place at the right time and used our patient connections to let those employees know what we could offer. Not only was this an opportunity for us to help these employees use their FSA dollars, but we were able to see hundreds of new patients just by communicating with the right people.
Remind Patients When They Check In About FSA Dollars
On our sign-in sheet and patient questionnaire we ask the patient if they will be using FSA dollars toward their visit, and if so, the staff will mention to them in pre-testing the key products we offer. In addition to eyewear, we sell cosmetic/health products and other items the patient may not be aware would be covered by their FSA dollars.
It is important to never speculate on what your patient is willing to spend in your office. Some patients might have a high salary, but only have $300 FSA dollars to spend, and other patients may be on an hourly wage, but have thousands of dollars to spend.
Offer every patient who walks in your door the best and most useful products, and in the end the office and the patient will both be rewarded.