Two vision insurers cover two-thirds of Americans, suppress competition and prevent lower prices
WASHINGTON – Chronic disease patient advocacy organization Patients Rising Now today announced a new campaign exposing abuses in the vision insurance market, including ongoing vertical integration that has limited patient choice and increased prices.
The campaign comes as members of Congress have reintroduced the DOC Access Act, which would allow optometrists to choose the labs and suppliers they’d like to use. It would also prevent insurance-mandated rates.
The patient group released an animated video that summarizes the vertical integration in the vision insurance market that has prevented competition and restricted options for optometrists and their patients. Currently, two major vision insurers cover two-thirds of Americans. Each insurer owns its own vision benefit manager, frame and lens manufacturer, prescription fulfillment center, and in some cases, even the doctor.
“There are three people in the eye exam room: the patient, the optometrist, and the insurer,” said Terry Wilcox, CEO and co-founder of Patients Rising Now. “Because the insurer owns every single part of the supply chain, they set the prices, select the products, and tell the doctor to take it or leave it. There’s no room for choice or price competition, and that just hurts patients in the end.”
200 million Americans are currently enrolled in a vision insurance plan, and one in ten Americans say they are unable to afford their prescription lenses. To learn more, watch the video below..
“Congress and the Federal Trade Commission have zeroed in on the market consolidation and middlemen-abuses in other parts of the health care chain, like pharmacy benefit managers,” said Wilcox. “As we dig deeper, we see that this issue of vertical integration runs across the entire health insurance industry, including vision insurance plans. That has to change.”