Thursday, June 25, 2009

can you see me now?

I went for my regular eye exam on Saturday afternoon. It'd been about two-and-a-half years since my last exam, and in that time my insurance added a new vision plan, which meant I couldn't see my old O.D.

I was thrilled when I found a new O.D. just around the corner from me, open on Saturdays, with half the copay of my old place. I called on Friday for an appointment, and they were able to fit me in the next day! This was perhaps the biggest shock, as at the old place they booked appointments, at minimum, 3 weeks out.

So I go into the appointment, and it's kind-of a cattle call: I was shuffled into one room after another for preliminary stuff with an assistant, before finally waiting to see the O.D. She was very friendly and welcoming, and started asking lots of questions about my daily reading, computer and driving habits. All good things when determining if I need glasses. Which I've never needed before. But with my turning 30 less than two months away, I thought I'd better go for my regular check-up and make sure the dreaded number didn't coincide with failing vision. ;)

So she does all the typical vision-exam stuff, then offers me the option of paying an additional $39 (not covered by insurance) to not have my eyes dilated, and instead try the new OptoMap technology that takes a digital image of your eye. I opted (hehe) in, because really? Who likes to have their eyes dilated? It really was a simple and painless process.

So the O.D. goes into details about my results (no problems) while explaining in lengthy medical jargon why I might need glasses. But when I ask her point blank if I need glasses, she says, "Well, not really. But since you're paying for your insurance, you might as well get your money's worth and at least get prescription sunglasses."

Wait a second. If I don't technically need glasses, then why would I need prescription sunglasses?

The O.D. leads me out into the retail portion of the facility, where a nice young man is waiting to fit me for glasses. I sit down and ask him the same thing -- I don't need glasses, so why am I here? He smiles and says, "Oh, but you at least need sunglasses!"

At this point I look around at the other folks being fitted for eye wear -- literally every person that I saw in the office cattle call and waiting room -- was now getting glasses of one kind or another!

I politely decline to purchase anything from him, and he leads me to a woman that can help me. (Apparently he's not used to hearing "no.") This time it's the shop manager (pulling out the big guns!) who says I'd be best served with a pair of clear glasses, as I'll really notice the difference when driving. No one seems to hear or care that a) I don't need glasses! and b) I'm not interested in purchasing anything.

What a scam! In all my years of getting regular vision exams I've never had one done at a place that also sold frames and lenses, so maybe this is common practice.

But one thing is for sure -- I'm not going back to this place!


  1. B, You have just entered into the realm of the "in- network" provider. They are getting paid peanuts, have to run people thru to make ends meet and then upsell you/ recommend things that are not necessary. Unfortunately, at least with glasses there is no long term issues with getting glasses, but I see people get unneccessary test that may have negative health effects all the time, just so the Dr. can get paid....
    Go to the Dr. you like and pay the extra co-pay because in the end it is a business and you pay for what you get- even in healthcare!

  2. Bill and I use this method to get our sunglasses for cheaper than buying them in the store. It actually is a good deal because you can get a high end brand like you would normally buy but for a HUGE discount. You don't need the lenses to even be prescription lenses you just have to buy a pair where you have the "option" of adding them in later. I think it's a great way to get back at the insurance company who has taken us for more money than they really need anyway.

  3. lol! Nice. I got my recent pair of glasses thru Kaiser (had my eye exam, then walked across the hall to pick out my new glasses) and never really felt like I was getting "up-selled" on anything... I just picked out what I wanted and they were happy with that. Zach was there, too, and he's had glasses forever, so I figured if they tried to sell me anything that wasn't necessary he'd let me know. ; ) So I guess that's one example of the "in network" provider that wasn't too awful.