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‘Looking for Harmony In a Discordant Market’

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Harmony” is defined in Webster’s as a combination of different notes producing a pleasing sound.

One doesn’t think of that term, really (!) when discussing today’s health care insurance business, since, virtually every aspect of it is being reshaped, redefined, restructured, relegislated, recosted, renovated and revolutionized with new technologies.

In fact, ‘discordant’ is really the more accurate description of today’s health care realm. Mismatched, harsh and jarring because of a lack of harmony, that is the definition that applies today.

So it was encouraging that “Looking for Harmony in a Discordant Market” was the theme of this year’s Specialty Health Summit, organized by NASHO (National Association of Specialty Health Organizations) and NAVCP (National Association of Vision Care Plans).

Every year, this meeting becomes more and more important to attempting to understand the future of the eyecare and optical business. This year’s program and attendee roster did not disappoint.

The issues facing vision care coverage and the decisions faced by all companies is daunting—yes, including the ones being encountered by some of the largest managed vision care companies out there. They are also grappling with how their clients (large employers, health plans and the government via a soon-to-boom Medicare market) are going to view vision benefits and how the next 10 years are going to impact how these will be structured, priced, systemized and marketed.

Vision care providers, too, of course are finding themselves in similar positions to other medical and health care providers when they decry the demise of traditional fee-for-service models. They/you are feeling the chipping away at product and service fees even as they/you are being asked to do more to cope with systems, software and other requirements of panel participation. And, believe me, these issues are similar, though different in scale, for large retail optical chains/groups of providers as they are for independent local practices.

Watch for our continued coverage of this arena in print Vision Monday as well as online, where you can catch up at VisionMonday.com from some of our recent reports. Search for NAVCP, ACOs, health care reform, managed vision care and Intelligent Office.

We’ll try to cut through the discord and attempt some harmony. Even if there are some distinctly flat notes in the current mix. ■

maxelrad@jobson.com