During the height of the pandemic in 2020, much to my disappointment, our family eye doctor retired. This came as a shock since I thought she looked younger than I am. This year, my daughter increasingly felt that she needed a new glasses prescription, so I sought a new optometrist for her.
She’d been seeing the same eye doctor for several years, and some of the things we encountered at this new two-doctor practice caught me off guard. The practice certainly didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling, either.
After a very long wait for our appointment, during the first stage of her exam, the optometrist assistant tried to pressure me into paying an additional $45 for an “extra eye wellness exam” that isn’t covered by insurance. Um, no. Were they telling me that their standard eye exam that insurance does cover is, well, sub-standard? This is a teenager we’re talking about.
Pressure to Buy Glasses There
We used to get the eye exam at the optometry office attached to the Walmart Vision Center, then go straight to picking out glasses after our exam.
During our extended wait at this new eye doctor’s office, I glanced around at the frames, not finding any that cost less than $300. I expected that, as I’m familiar with why eyeglasses cost so much in most optometry offices.
The eye doctor seemed surprised when I insisted we’d take his prescription and buy eyeglasses at Walmart. Even without using insurance, Walmart is cheaper than the eye doctor’s office for glasses. Every eye insurance coverage I’ve ever had covered no more than about $150 for frames and lenses. When the cheapest frames in the office cost more than $300, not including lenses, and I can get an entire pair of glasses at Walmart for about $115, the math doesn’t work out in their favor.
The front desk person also seemed stunned that we didn’t want to look at glasses. Does nobody else realize they’re wasting money buying glasses there?
More Sneaky Charges
When I whipped out my health savings account card to pay the $10 copay, the clerk told me that they charge 3.5% additional for using plastic. I put the card away and pulled out a Hamilton to pay the bill instead.
Why All the Changes?
Maybe eye doctor practices actually do feel the pressure from Walmart as well as online eyeglasses vendors, where you can save a ton of money on your family’s eye wear.
Perhaps their insurance reimbursements aren’t what they consider adequate to keep the practice going.
Over to You!
A relative of mine also had to find a new eye doctor recently, and discovered yet another sneaky fee – charging $15 for a measurement required to order glasses online. This had been included anytime I asked for it from my kid’s previous eye doctor.
Have you seen these or other new fees and high pressure tactics at eye doctor offices?
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