As Eye See It

AsEyeSeeIt Comments Policy

I encourage conversation about the VSP Global companies and the practice of optometry. All blog comments will be reviewed within one business day prior to posting. Some comments may be forwarded to another person within the company for follow up.
Comments that are off-topic, use profanity or offensive language, or violate the Legal Policy will not be posted.

  • Lisa

    “Nothing in the Affordable Care Act limits choices – you are free to choose plans that are best for your family…” Exchanges should reflect what is currently in the market for access & continuity of care. We should encourage competition & choice & free market in the Exchanges! The decision by CA Health Exchange indeed limits a good choice for families – I’m really disappointed!

  • Craig S Steinberg, OD, JD

    It is unfortunate, though not surprising or unpredictable, that VSP now needs the support of the very people — optometrists across the country, and California optometrists in particular — which they have so effectively turned against them. Threatening to leave CA in retaliation is a 4th grade response, but perhaps effectively conveys how far out-of-touch VSP’s Board has become and how far removed the VSP of today is from what made VSP successful.

    VSP was built by optometrists, optometrists that supported VSP, and which, in turn, were supported by VSP. From that symbiotic relationship of mutual support and respect, VSP thrived and grew, as did optometry practices that provided services to their enrollees.

    For the past 10 or so years, however, there has been a rapid and DRAMATIC change in that relationship such that VSP is now WIDELY viewed by optometrists across the country, at best, as an unwanted but necessary evil, and that’s the view of the optometrists that are VSP providers. Others, those not dependent on or afraid of VSP, openly view and describe VSP as the enemy of optometry. Disdain for the “new” VSP has grown so strong that the profession’s national organization, the AOA, now openly opposes them, despite receiving millions in donations from VSP over the years! As any “employer” knows, you cannot treat your “employees” badly and expect your business to thrive. It is ironic, in fact, that VSP is reportedly one of the best places to work because they treat their employees so well! Does VSP not realize that, in the end, they need optometrists more than optometrists need them?

    I personally think it is a bad thing that the CA Health Exchange has voted to lock VSP out. I think it is bad for California’s citizens and bad for California’s eye care providers. And I believe MANY, if not most, optometrists and ophthalmologists in California would agree that it is a bad thing. But most are so disgusted with VSP they may actually feel a sense of satisfaction that VSP is finally “getting theirs.” And they certainly were not going to rise up and support VSP. After a decade of being treated poorly by VSP, VSP simply could not energize the doctors to support them, and the results are clear.

    Unless and until VSP reads its history books and rediscovers that its success, and now quite possibly its very survival, depends on having a strong and supporting partner — the optometrists that give VSP a reason to exist — VSP should expect to see more and more decisions like this, and few optometrists standing up on their side to fight for them.

    So, what do I suggest? If VSP is to survive, I think it starts with revamping at the top. The VSP Board (not VSP Vision Care, but VSP Global) needs to (a) replace its CEO, as he has clearly led VSP down a bad path, and (b) ensure that at least half the controlling Board is made up of optometrists or ophthalmologists. VSP needs to restore its optometric and “doctor” culture and its sensitivity to the concerns of optometrists. VSP needs to relax its VOLUMES of rules and regulations, and let optometrists do what they do — care for patients as best they can, without being told what to do and what not to do in the exam room. VSP needs to study its balance sheet and cut whatever it needs to cut to find the funds to increase what they pay for professional services. And VSP needs to focus on its CORE business – eye examinations, glasses, and contact lenses, and get out of medical eye care. More than anything, VSP needs to put its dictatorial mindset away and realize that optometrists MUST be its partners, not its subjects.

    It is not too late for VSP. But the window of opportunity is closing. In the next 12 months or so VSP’s ultimate fate will be determined. Thirty years from now will today’s graduates be saying, “remember when everyone took that plan, I think it was called VSP,” or will they be saying, “remember how unpopular VSP was when we graduated, what a turnaround?”