On April 16, President Donald Trump unveiled his Opening Up America Again guidelines. Following this, CMS issued guidance on April 19 concerning reactivation of non-COVID-19 care that included recommending a gradual transition that encourages providers to coordinate with local and state public health officials. 

Over the past two weeks, numerous governors have unveiled their state-specific, phased plans to reopen regional economies, including healthcare. And we anticipate each state will have different recommendations and expectations for optometry practices. Our EyeMed team will:

  • Continue paying close attention to all the state-specific guidelines and phased plans, and stay connected to leading optical organizations such as the American Optometric Association and the National Association of Vision Care Plans,
  • Maintain close, continuous contact with both our retail and independent provider communities to understand how they are preparing to equip their offices and change protocols to begin providing both routine and essential services.

Of course, as we continue to learn and expand on our EyeMed plans, we will continue to share information with you. We’re already receiving questions from many of our strategic partners such as yourself, so we’ve summarized some key updates: 

REOPENING THE EYEMED HOME OFFICE:

Governor Mike DeWine released Ohio’s phased plans to reopen businesses. In response, EyeMed is currently building our plan, in coordination with Luxottica, to slowly reopen our home office. While our plans are in development, we anticipate it’ll be a phased approach over numerous weeks where specific teams with the greatest need gradually return to the office first. Of course, we are planning to incorporate a variety of new safety precautions and testing. We also anticipate many employees will continue to work safely from home as it’s proven to work very successfully.

OPERTIONAL READINESS:

We are very confident our teams will maintain the exceptional service you expect from EyeMed as we transition. Perhaps more important, as eye doctors begin reoffering routine services, we are confident we are staffed and have protocols in place to manage any unusual fluctuations in call volumes or claims.

EXCEEDING MEMBER EXPECTATIONS:

A few weeks ago, when social distancing mandates were established and non-essential care restricted, one of our primary concerns was helping members navigate through the uncertainty. We encouraged our partners and clients to make our Customer Care Center a key resource and direct members to our team so we could help them understand how to use their benefits and identify open offices.

With the rollout of new state-by-state, phased plans—all in different stages—we continue to encourage utilizing our Customer Care Center at 1.866.939.3633 (or the number on your group-specific ID card) as a resource to provide guidance. Our team will be equipped with the most up-to-date network information, as well as data on which states are in different stages of phased rollouts. We’re also developing numerous member articles that we’ll be sharing soon.

PROJECTED UTILIZATION SURGES: 

As we shared a few weeks back, and although the timing is unclear, we do expect utilization increases across exams and material benefits to take place during the latter half of 2020. A few key points that drive our expectation:

  • Vision benefits directly address the vision correction needs that are critical for our members to carry on with their day-to-day lives.  Age and other factors cause vision correction needs to change frequently; resulting in an ongoing demand for updated glasses and contact lenses.  COVID-19 related mandates have made it more difficult to address vision-correction needs; however, we do not believe it has dampened consumer demand, rather, it is just forcing a deferral.
  • Furthermore, vision benefits are often used in coordination with Flexible Spending Accounts that include expiration dates. We know from prior experience that glasses and contacts benefits are one area where members typically use their benefits prior to the end of the year. 
PROVIDER READINESS:

EyeMed expects that all in-network providers will adopt necessary healthcare precautions related to patient care. A few precautions we expect providers will take include: reducing patients in the waiting rooms and dispensaries at the same time and increasing cleaning protocols in both the pre-test and exam areas. EyeMed is working on quality control mechanisms to collect information from providers (that are willing to share) to identify the special precautions and safety protocols they are taking to serve higher-risk patients. For more information on the AOA’s recommendations to optometry offices, the AOA released it’s AOA Optometry Practice Reactivation Preparedness Guide.

NETWORK READINESS (CAPACITY):

With America’s largest network and mix of retail, independent and online providers we are confident EyeMed members will have adequate network access. Further, in-network provider groups such as LensCrafters, Target Optical, Pearle Vision and Vision Source (as well as others) shared that prior to COVID-19, they reserved appointment times for “walk-in” customers. These times were not always utilized. As part of their new protocols to assure social distancing guidelines are met, all appointments will need to be scheduled in advance. This change will free up appointment times to meet demand. In addition, many providers are considering expanding (and potentially reserving) office hours for EyeMed members.

Overall, we anticipate there will be plenty of healthcare and insurance confusion resulting from the state-by-state, phased plans, but know our team is here to help provide the vision expertise you need, and the service you expect. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

USE THESE LINKS TO STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH OUR LATEST COVID-19 UPDATES: