We now operate in an industry where one company can dictate what you get paid for an exam, sell your practice a frame, require you to fulfill any lenses using their lab, and can dictate the reimbursement of said frame and lenses when sold to a patient. They influence or completely control the purchase from beginning to end.
Many independent optometrists tolerate this cycle because they don’t realize there are options to minimize your dependence on VCPs without risking any damage to your business.
A clear pattern emerged as large corporations formed strong partnerships with, or flat-out acquired, VCPs:
- Independent ODs’ costs have increased.
- Independent ODs’ choice has decreased.
- Independent ODs’ VCP reimbursements have decreased.
To make matters worse, many leading VCPs are now prioritizing their corporate-affiliated locations over their in-network members within patient-facing “Locate a Provider” tools.
They’ve slowly closed the walls around independent optometrists. These VCPs are stealing more of your profit margin with each passing year until they ultimately become clear competitors who are working to put you out of business.
The majority of independent ECPs do nothing to minimize their reliance on VCPs, fueling this vicious cycle further.
How did this become okay? How does this not infuriate every independent optometrist to the point they’re willing to do everything possible to fight back?
You are not at the mercy of VCPs.
There are multiple states within the U.S. that specifically grant optometrists the ability to “opt out” and revoke the death-grip VCPs have on ODs’ profit margins (we discuss this at length later in this guide). The number of states providing this option directly to optometrists increases every year.
Even if your state hasn’t implemented these protections, there are several sourcing and optical selling strategies you can leverage to limit your use of VCPs while still doing what’s best for your patients (we discuss these later in this guide as well).
For now, just take a step back and evaluate exactly how upside-down this industry has become. YOU went to school for several years to adequately serve your patients, YOU burdened significant risk opening your own eye clinic/ optical, and YOU are the single-most critical component of the supply chain for patients.
Despite all of this, your business is forced to live off of the crumbs that near-monopolistic corporations dictate as adequate. They use the profits they’ve taken from you and your colleagues to open practices down the street and directly compete for the same business.
We believe that’s not much of a “partnership” and hope you’ll agree. The remainder of this guide is meant to help you fight against this machine.