Managed Vision Care Executives ‘Navigate’ Health Care Reform

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NASHO chair Andrew Alcorn (l) and
NAVCP chair Richard Sanchez.

SAN DIEGO—At the second joint Specialty Health Summit sponsored by the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP) and the National Association of Specialty Health Organizations, Andrew Alcorn, president and CEO of Block Vision, was inducted as chair of NASHO, while Richard Sanchez, president and CEO of Advantica, announced that he would continue as chair of NAVCP for 30 days until a successor could be found.

Hosting a record 161 attendees, 114 vision organizations were represented at the three-day event held April 29 to May 1 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. The event featured presentations focused on “Navigating the Road Ahead” for specialty health and vision care plans as health care reform moves forward with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaching full implementation in 2014.

With an overarching theme of how health care reform will affect specialty health care in general and vision care specifically, presentations during the NASHO/NAVCP Specialty Health Summit covered topics such as public and private health exchanges, market trends, technological innovations and more. Among the highlights were:

In a presentation by Milliman actuary Daniel Henry stated that “most current health insurance plans do not provide coverage of vision exams or hardware” and “most vision coverage is provided by stand-alone vision plans.” After citing that companies providing vision plans grew from 17 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2012, he said, “It’s growing, it doesn’t seem broken, but we’re going to fix it.” He followed that with explaining how pediatric vision care as one of the essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act will likely be implemented. He concluded that it would be subject to “administrative complexity.”

A joint study by Jobson and focalCenter about consumers’ perceptions toward specific managed vision care plans was introduced by Jobson’s Marge Axelrad, who also shared statistics related to eyecare professionals’ business outlook as well as patient/consumer purchasing trends.

Survey results predicting how employers and employees would react to different scenarios related to changes in vision care coverage were presented by product research analyst, Kimberly Landry of LIMRA. Her results determined that vision benefits are among the most valued by employees. Among her findings were that while employers perceive that older employees value vision benefits more, in actuality, the reverse is true. She also determined that if vision benefits became more expensive, 25 percent of employees would make no changes, 40 percent of employees would increase their contribution to keep them, and only 23 percent would opt to pay the same and reduce their benefit. While her survey found that employers are not optimistic about health reform overall, they predict that they would drop other benefits before vision. Among consumers, 65 percent are interested in purchasing vision plans from exchanges.

A roundtable on “New Technology” sponsored by PFO Global and moderated by its EVP, national accounts/vision insurance program, Steve Brewer, looked to answer the question: “Is there too much innovation and technology in health care?” The answer led to another question, “No, but who will pay for it?”

During the roundtable, among the technological advances sited by Key-Whitman Eye Center’s Dan Chambers, much of it for improving patient wait time and outcomes, were TearLab for speeding up dry eye testing, Optos for wide field retina scanning, a corneal implant to improve presbyopia after cataract surgery and traffic control monitoring that his organization has implemented that monitors the location of every doctor, patient and staff member every three seconds that has had a dramatic impact on response time.

During the same roundtable discussion, Lovejoy Eyecare Consultant’s Wallace Lovejoy explored how optical dispensers innovate, and Freedom Meditech’s Craig Misrach introduced his FDA-approved ClearPath for eyecare professionals to detect diabetes seven years prior to complications.

Transition’s Tim Fortner concluded the event with his Transitions-sponsored seminar focusing on trends in the vision arena, including the digital revolution, the new mindful consumer, the importance of education and the new aging. About aging demographics in the U.S., he said, “There’s gold in that silver tsunami,” but he reminded the audience of managed vision care and allied professionals that we must “improve doctor/patient communication and prompt employees to prioritize vision. It is all about them, and we must remember that’s what it’s about.”

Other seminars included a keynote presentation on “The Health Reform Marketplace,” sponsored by VSP Global; a general session about private health insurance exchanges sponsored by Davis Vision; and another keynote address about the impending “Paradigm Shift in Health Care” presented by Dr. Charles Posternack, chief medical officer of Boca Raton Regional Hospital and sponsored by PFO Global.

Immediately preceding the three-day event was an NAVCP medical directors roundtable exploring ways to “Invigorate Interest in the Vision Benefit,” sponsored by Transitions Optical and addressing ways to encourage employers to spend more time educating about the importance of eye health.

Roundtable participants included moderator, Tim Fortner, trade development manager, Transitions; Smith Wyckoff, key account manager, managed vision care/online, Transitions; Marge Axelrad, senior VP/editorial director, Jobson Medical Information; and two representatives from the American Dental Association, Kenneth Ohr, chief communications officer, and Sandra Eitel, director, marketing and brand management, who shared secrets to success with the Mouth Healthy education platform.

“We applaud Transitions Optical for its support of the roundtable and believe this is an excellent example of how allied members and primary members can come together to support each other in working toward common goals,” said NAVCP interim chair Sanchez. A consensus paper based on the roundtable discussion will be posted on the NAVCP and Transitions Healthy Sight Working for You websites over the summer.

In addition to the seminar sponsors, other event supporters included Vistakon, a Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., which sponsored the opening reception; Carl Zeiss Vision, which sponsored the NAVCP Vision Industry Dinner; Essilor of America, which sponsored the NAVCP Luncheon; and Advantica, which sponsored Tuesday’s networking break.

The trade association for the managed vision care industry, NAVCP has 18 primary member companies that manage extensive networks of vision care providers and include vision coverage to tens of millions of Americans, plus 19 allied members that do not fit the profile of primary members. Its current officers are chair, Richard Sanchez, president/CEO, Advantica; secretary/treasurer, Aspasia Shappet, CEO, MESVision, Inc.;  public policy committee chair, Erich Sternberg, president, Always Care Benefits/Starmount Life Insurance; marketing committee chair, Carol Misso, VP, marketing, Superior Vision Services, Inc.; membership committee chair, Jim McGrann, president, VSP Vision Care; and industry relations committee chair, Robert Stein, senior VP, professional and managed care development, National Vision.