By Roxanne Achong-Coan, OD, FAAO, FIAOMC, FSLS
Starting a myopia management regimen is often stressful for children and their parents because there is a lot to understand for the treatment to be effective. Part of that stress is that many families start out having to learn everything about myopia management, including what it is. The second part of the stress is managing the expenses that accompany myopia control plans.
With the benefits of myopia management so significant, including not just potential freedom from reliance on glasses or contact lenses, but a lowered risk of developing conditions like retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, glaucoma and the early development of cataracts, it’s an essential treatment for those who need it.
The challenge is that most patient insurance does not cover myopia treatments. That means that patients who may stand to benefit greatly from myopia control measures could miss out with consequences experienced later in life. For that reason, we try to do everything we can in my practice to help patients receive this treatment.
Bridging the Care Gap
Our practice accepts the CareCredit credit card for those who want to start myopia care yet spread the cost over monthly payments. Our patients often use CareCredit, and many already know about it because they use it for other healthcare services such as orthodontia.
We individualize our approach to myopia management because one size does not fit all. Which myopia control option is best varies from patient to patient depending on risk factors, the patient’s prescription, eye measurements such as eccentricities and keratometry readings, current axial length of the eye and patient/parent preferences based on the patient’s lifestyle and activities.
I also use the myopia calculator created by the Brien Holden Vision Institute to show the child and the parent where their myopia is currently, and to show to what level it may be headed, we use the myopia simulator from CooperVision. I explain the external factors beyond genetics, such as outdoor time and how much time is spent with near tasks. Patients also have access to evidence-based studies if they would like to have more detailed research on myopia management treatments.
We have offered CareCredit at our practice for approximately 15 years, and have been in practice for about 20 years. We decided to make CareCredit a part of our practice because we wanted to offer the patient more flexibility in their payment for their services and retail products.
Enable Greater Access to Specialized Services, Build a Stronger Cash Flow
Most importantly, patient financing via the CareCredit credit card allows many of our families to access myopia management services that might otherwise be beyond reach.
From a practice profitability standpoint, having a way to expand access to specialized services helps to strengthen our cash flow.
CareCredit has made a positive impact on our practice’s ability to maintain an optimal cash flow because the patient’s payments are credited to our accounts within a few days.
The financial pressure of the pandemic made me realize that we are constantly planning and ensuring that we always have a strong cash flow. There is the saying, “Always save for a rainy day,” and fortunately we have also saved for a few rainy months.
My cash flow is good, but there is always room for improvement. My cash flow would not be as good as it is if patients did not have an option to finance. The ability to finance makes it more likely that the patient buys multiple pairs of glasses, an annual supply of contact lenses, or pays for specialty services–like myopia management. Being able to make these payments over time often makes the difference between a patient being able to receive the services and having to forgoing a treatment plan like myopia control that can yield benefits over a lifetime.