As an optometrist I have been dealing with both VSP and EyeMed for decades. VSP (originally California Vision Service or CVS [not the drugstore]) is a non-profit vision insurance provider started in Oakland, California in 1955 by a group of independent optometrists which has always had a mission to offer affordable, accessible, high-quality eye care insurance to the world that promoted visual wellness and improved members' quality of life. Its headquarters was moved to Sacramento, California in 1968, and its dedication to customer service for its members and its network of eye doctors has remained tops in the industry. VSP has the largest network of independent optometrists and ophthalmologists in America, with many different plans for business, government, and individuals. When patients phone an optometrist's office, such as mine, and ask us if we accept VSP, we gladly say "Yes."
On the other hand EyeMed, which is the insurance subsidiary of Italian corporate giant Luxottica Group S.P.A (the world's largest eyewear company, controlling over 80% of the world's major eyewear brands including Rayban, Prada, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Versace, et al) is a for profit corporation whose main mission is to make money for its stock holders. Luxottica owns retail outlets Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical and others.
Although EyeMed has allowed a few token independent optometrists to be part of its provider network its main mission is to steer patient/customers into its own retail outlets to buy the Luxottica eyewear brands. The process that the independent optometrists have to go through to get authorization from Eyemed is much more tedious than VSP. EyeMed will not take telephone calls from the few independent optometrists in its network panel concerning patient eligibility for services, but instead the doctor's office is directed to the EyeMed provider website, which is not user friendly. If glasses are made they must be sent to one of the EyeMed approved laboratories, which we find inferior to the VSP labs.
Having dealt with EyeMed for such a long time, we see many of their methods as deceptive. Many EyeMed vision plans are really not vision insurance plans at all--they pay no money for services and are just "discount" plans. Despite this Eyemed often lists local optometrists like myself on plans we do not accept. When patients phone us to ask if we accept EyeMed we would like to give them a definite answer. Unlike VSP, where we always answer "Yes," (because we accept all the dozens of VSP plans), our answer to an inquiry about EyeMed might bring an answer of "Maybe" or "No." EyeMed has several different provider "networks." We don't know if we are on a patient's EyeMed network until we get information from the member, (their ID or SSN and name and birthdate), and try to decipher EyeMed's website, which will tell us if we are on the patient's network. Starting in 2015, if the patient has SCAN Health Plan we know the answer is "No," because they have limited the number of independent optometrists on the EyeMed SCAN network, even though we have all the credentials to be a participating provider, accept one. That one credential we are lacking is that we do not have our office in a Lenscrafters or Target store. The only optometrists that are on all the EyeMed networks are the ones in the Luxottica owned retail stores like Target and Lenscrafters.
SCAN Health Plan is a non-profit Medicare Advantage Plan HMO that was started in 1977 by a group of senior activists in Long Beach, California to provide better health services for senior citizens. It services only parts of California and Arizona. It traditionally has been one of the most highly rated Medicare Advantage plans in California, one where customer service is paramount. SCAN Health Plan's mission and values seem to be more closely aligned to VSP than EyeMed. So that brings us to the question: Why has SCAN Health Plan gone against its primary mission and core values and dropped VSP to provide vision service in favor of EyeMed?
When patients we have seen for years are told that we no longer take their insurance because SCAN Healthcare has changed from VSP to EyeMed they are understandably upset by this change. If they had known that SCAN was going to make this change they would have changed insurance instead, but now the enrollment period to change insurance has passed.
If you are a SCAN Healthcare member and want to lodge a complaint about this decision by the SCAN Healthcare Plan board of directors you can either fill out the the grievance form on the SCAN Healthcare Plan webside:
or e-mail SCAN Healthcare CEO Chris Wing: Cwing@scanhealthplan.com