What is EyeMed?
In today’s blog post, I will talk about EyeMed eye insurance. We all want insurance with the thought that perhaps it will be a great value that we will get something for nothing, but that is not the case. The EyeMed company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Italian corporation Luxottica. EyeMed has just one “Laser/Lasik/PRK“ company on their website listed as providers. Although it appears that the “US laser network” has many providers, all roads lead to the same company: LasikPlus, which owns TLC and LASIK vision Institute.
Who is EyeMed?
The EyeMed website says that they have 36 million members. This number has not changed in a very long time, so one would either assume they’re very stable or don’t update the numbers. The members are from companies around the United States that pay EyeMed a monthly premium. For glasses and contact lenses, you are directed to the companies owned by Luxottica: LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, EyeMed vision care plan, Apex by Sunglass Hut, and glasses.com. In short, they own nearly all retail eye care providers except those owned by Walmart and Costco. They also own the license to produce and market all the top luxury eyewear brands, such as Armani, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Michael Kors, Prada, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Valentino, Vogue, and Versace (they’re doing pretty well just in the letter “V” brands!). If you can name a luxury brand that makes glasses, Luxottica most likely owns it.
EyeMed Providers. What is My EyeMed LASIK Benefit?
This blog post will focus more on the EyeMed LASIK benefit. If you go on the LASIK benefit for EyeMed page, all roads lead to the same phone number, which directs you to the LasikPlus call center. They will refer you to one of their wholly-owned subsidiaries. LasikPlus, a privately held company, bought a failing company called “Vision Group Holdings” a few years ago and now owns all the LasikPlus centers, TLC (which initially stood for The Laser Center) and LVI (Lasik Vision Institute). LasikPlus has less than half of the total market share of the LASIK market, but more than any other individual provider by far, and uses that advantage to be exclusively listed on the EyeMed website.
EyeMed Contact Us
When you contact one of the “providers“ for the “US laser network, “ your call or correspondence goes directly to the LasikPlus call center. This is the only option offered. You cannot directly contact anyone else in the United States. LasikPlus has an exclusive agreement with EyeMed to market 36 million members. My point is that the 36 million EyeMed Insurance members should know that they have other options and that the out-of-pocket cost will be the SAME whether or not they go to LasikPlus through their EyeMed LASIK benefit or not. When you go to LasikPlus, they show you the price for LASIK only after your exam. So there is no way to know if you are truly getting a discount or if they are raising the price to cover the “discount.” Don’t ever pay this higher price, because they will reduce it. At SharpeVision, we don’t play shell games and have our price listed on our website. And we price match!
Buy EyeMed Vision Insurance or VSP Eye Insurance
Most of the time, the premium charged by EyeMed offers very little or nothing, but they make it seem like you’re getting an excellent discount. And your employer may be paying the premium, so who cares, right? As I have stated above, the pricing at LasikPlus and its subsidiaries will be the same whether you have EyeMed or not. The only reason they are listed on the EyeMed website is that it gives them access to many members. The members search for their “LASIK benefit” and see the “US LASER Network” and click there. Many do no further research and go straight to a LasikPlus center. I do not know how much, or if, LasikPlus pays EyeMed for this exclusivity, but it would make sense that LasikPlus does pay EyeMed for this exclusive access to 36 million members. For EyeMed, it looks as though there is a benefit when there is none. In reality, LasikPlus offers a “discount“ that is also actually not a discount-it’s the same price after their “$1000 off.” It’s similar to Kohl’s department store that constantly lists “35 to 45% off“ when no one would pay full price. This tactic does work, however. Remember back to JCPenney when they advertised their low everyday prices, with no claim to “45% Off!”? It pretty much killed them. I just went to check out the JCPenney website- to see if they are still in business- and saw for Valentine’s Day. They are offering “up to 70% off.“ See! Offering discounts seems to work psychologically, but there is no value gained in reality.
EyeMed directs you, of course, to retailers that they own. VSP is EyeMed’s most significant competitor and will lead you to brands they own. Luxottica owns all the high-end glasses brands I listed above. The EyeMed discount makes an $800 pair of glasses just $600 after a bargain. Luxottica wins! They collect the $600 for a higher high markup and manage your premiums of up to several hundred dollars per year on 36 million members. If it were just $100/year, this is $3.6 billion annually for controlling the “Eye Insurance” market and selling you only their products. Pretty nice. This makes it very appealing if you want the most fashionable, trendy, and expensive brands. VSP is generally the discount brand of retailers. Luxottica has been brilliant at protecting its brands and buying up all the famous and fashionable brands. They have been accused of cutthroat tactics, such as when they took over Oakley.
Where can I use EyeMed? You can use plans such as VSP at a Luxottica-controlled brand such as target optical, but you may not get as good of benefits. EyeMed likes to keep its members in its network and exclude others.
Who is in EyeMed Network?
As I listed above, it’s all of the exotic owned brands such as LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sears Optical, and Pearle Vision. They also own Eyeglass Hut, an outlet for all the luxury Luxottica brands. It’s a brilliant business tactic and has been called a monopoly by others.
Who is Not Owned by EyeMed Luxottica?
Luxottica does not own several big chains. Walmart and Costco both have independent eye care providers, are not owned by Luxottica, and therefore considered out-of-network if you have EyeMed insurance. Warby Parker has recently emerged as a stylish and trendy brand currently not owned by Luxottica. They went public in the last year and although their stock has dropped precipitously as of this writing, so has the stock market as a whole. They do not have the buying power breadth to start their eye insurance plan yet.
Why do We Have Insurance?
Insurance was initially designed to protect the consumer from significant financial losses. It has been manipulated over the years and currently is designed to benefit large companies such as hospitals, big Pharma, and other ancillary healthcare companies such as Luxottica, or large pharmacy chains that use their power to create monopolies and access to consumers, while providing enormous profits for them both on the product side and the “insurance“ side. The premiums are just gravy-and much gravy! The products are marked up hundreds, if not thousands, of times the production costs. (Ever wonder why Humira costs $5243 for 80mg?) it’s about 600,000 times more valuable than gold! Really? Yes.
They direct you only to their products, of course. The internet has helped people discover alternative providers of products and services, but large corporations have the money to drown out the competition when they need to. (Don’t forget about PAID search optimization on the web.) And the need to drown out competition has decreased as competition has been snuffed out wholesale. Our individual choices nearly invisibly seem to be declining at an accelerating rate.