Insights From Our Editors

How Do I Help Patients Better Utilize Vision Benefits?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Sept. 26, 2018

Many people have vision coverage, but many fewer of those people use that coverage to get an exam and glasses.

Here’s how your practice can make it easier for patients to use their benefits to care for their eyes with an exam, and to improve their quality of life by purchasing needed eyewear in your optical.

At the time the appointment is made, check to see if other family members are eligible for an exam.
Generally, there are other family members that have vision coverage. It’s important to train staff that when the first family member schedules an appointment to check to see if there are other family members who are also eligible for an exam, then schedule those family members as well.

Pre-certify insurance coverage before they get to the office.
One of the worst things that can happen is for a patient to present at reception and be told that they no longer have insurance coverage. Often, that patient will leave without an exam. And they often leave angry. You now have a hole in your schedule that is next-to-impossible to fill immediately and you have an angry patient who is going to go and tell others how terrible your office is. All of this could have been avoided if a staff member had checked on the insurance eligibility at least the day before.

Print out coverage documents.
If you wait until patients are in the office to identify coverage it takes additional time and backs up patient flow. It’s better to have this printed out before the patient arrives so all coverage questions can be answered immediately.

Train staff how to handle the following situations:
a) “I only want what my insurance covers.”
b) “I want new lenses in my old frame (even though there is frame coverage).”
c) “I just want the exam, I’m taking my prescription to get it filled somewhere else.”

You know patients are going to ask these questions, so take some time to work through what the answers should be. Work out scripts with staff. Role-play so staff and doctors are comfortable with the scripts. Track patient responses to the scripts so that you can make adjustments if needed.

Collect all deductibles and co-pays the day of the exam.
One of the last things you want to do is to ask patients for money after they leave your office. This never works well when you try to track patients down for money. Solve this problem by handling the issue while the patient is in front of you. This means you need to know what the deductibles and co-pays are for the insurance plans that you take in your office.

Make it easy for patients to pay.
In today’s world, there are more ways to pay than just cash, check, MasterCard and Visa. Make sure you have systems in your practice that make it easy for patients to do business with you.

Document that the patient picked up their new glasses (and exactly what was delivered).
How would you prove that a patient picked up their new glasses if an older patient with a faulty memory said that they never received their new glasses? You need to have a receipt that the patient signs when they pick up their new eyewear that lists exactly what they received and when they received it. A staff notation or signature is not enough. Absent this, it’s just your word versus their word.

 

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