Humana/EyeMed Deal Puts Chains on Provider Panel

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LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Through an expansion of a existing seven-year partnership with Luxottica’s EyeMed Vision Care managed-vision operation, health-care giant Humana will offer members of its HumanaVision Vision Care Plan (VCP) the option of obtaining eyecare and eyewear at Luxottica Retail stores, beginning next year.

“This will be the first time our VCP vision members will have access to a nationwide retail network in addition to our strong private-practice network,” a Humana spokesman told VM, adding that the company currently does not have other optical retailers in its network.

The expanded alliance—which includes Luxottica’s LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical locations as well as U.S. Vision’s JCPenney optical locations (through EyeMed’s relationship with U.S. Vision, a Refac subsidiary)—will take effect starting in the second quarter of 2011. “The expanded network will give Humana’s members greater choices regarding when and where they can manage their eyecare needs while also maintaining predictable pricing for eyeglasses and contact lenses,” a Humana announcement said.

As part of the two firms’ agreement, HumanaVision and EyeMed, through its wholly owned First American Administrators subsidiary, “are creating a more collaborative relationship to merge Humana’s customer-service model with EyeMed’s award-winning call centers and claims-processing teams,” the announcement noted.

Said Beth Bierbower, chief operating officer of Humana Specialty Benefits, “Combining our predictable frame-cost and fixed lens pricing model with the most recognized retail optical providers will result in a more convenient, cost-effective experience for our members.”

The Humana spokesman told VM his firm and EyeMed have a seven-year relationship including a jointly offered vision product for its medical members, Medicare members and stand-alone vision members; that partnership will continue, he noted.

Cathy Ciccolella