Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Addressing another medical need

 Early this morning, I had my annual eye exam with my ophthamologist, who I have gone to since moving to CT in '86. Eyes are healthy, need to tweak my prescription for my glasses. My current pair, I have owned for over 6 years, and they are starting to wear off along the top, where they rest on a table surface. I have replaced the lenses twice during this time frame, with RX changes. Time for a new pair, especially since I've had to wear glasses exclusively since my mid 40's as my contacts just weren't cutting it. I've been back twice (2 different years) to see the contact MD in the practice to try to get back into contacts. With the last round, we finally got the RX right, but I had an almost immediate, allergic reaction to the plastic used in the lens. Sigh. My ophthamologist agrees with me that I should be able to go back into contacts, just return to using a different plastic lens. Sounds like a plan.

Issue is, however, that neither of the contacts MD's in this 12 MD practice participate with my insurance. The receptionist asked me if I couldn't just make an appointment and submit the bill to my insurance for partial reimbursement. I politely replied that I have maxed my deductible on our HSA, so why would I want to incur a debt that wouldn't exist if I could find an in plan, contact MD? She understood, gave me "transfer of records" paperwork to fill out, once I know which contact MD outside of their practice, does participate in my insurance so I won't be charged. With upcoming surgery, I'll have little immediate need to be wearing contacts; being on RX pain meds makes me sleepy, so getting refitted for contacts is something I can push off, but will deal with prior to the start of my new insurance plan "year." Meanwhile, I've ordered some new glasses, which should be in by the end of next week. They happen to be a designer label, not that I ever aim for that. I tried on about 15 pairs of glasses, narrowed them down to 3, finally picking out this black pair:
Price? $685 BUT, since this optician is affiliated with the ophthamologist, I got a $50 coupon, and with my new insurance plan, we actually have a vision benefit of $80 towards glasses or contacts. I can use this additional benefit towards my glasses in 2013, and again in the Spring of 2014 for contacts, assuming that I can ever get this sorted out. So, I saved $130 off these glasses, bringing them down to $555. If I wear these for 5-6 years, it's money well spent.

My current, aka "old" glasses? I plan on having them coverted into prescription sunglasses for driving. I priced it out at the opticians: just under $200.


missy said...

My DD recently had to get a new pair of glasses and after falling "in love" with a designer brand she shopped around online and found her glasses for well over 100.00 less at
http://www.framesdirect.com/ . I also helped my mother find the exact framed she wanted which saved her 75.00. Luckily both DD and mother have doctors that allow one to bring in own frames. I have a pair of antique cat eye glasses , bought at a garage sale, that I hope to have glass transferred for magnification.

KittyinVa said...

Go to Zenni Optical. I have ordered several pairs of glasses from them. Their service is fantastic. A regular pair (with non-bifocals) cost $25-40 and it takes 2 weeks to get the glasses in the mail. I have ordered about 6 pairs from them and am in glasses heaven!


mikemax said...

You are paying a lot for your glasses. My frames, no-line bifocals with high-index lenses, were a little over $300 at Costco. The frames are top quality. For Christmas, DH took my old frames and had new bifocal high index Transitions lenses made, also at Costco, for $226. This gives me a pair of backup glasses that also will act as Rx sunglasses. In the past, I have had my old lenses tinted for $10 and used them for sunglasses. (The lenses were already polarized).

Your current order seems to be a done deal, but I think you will save a lot on Rx sunglasses by dealing with one of the online sources mentioned by others. Or,
Consumer Reports periodically rates optical companies. Opticians associated with medical practices typically charge the highest fees. ShopKo (if you have one), Costco and Wal-Mart are typically among the top-rated chains. There is a HUGE markup on optical products.

D said...

You may want to use an online optical for converting your old glasses into sunglasses. They should be able to determine the center of your lenses from the existing ones. I don't know anything about pricing but imagine it is much less.

As a point of comparison, I have never paid more than $400 for glasses and mine are usually designer frames (current ones are Anne Klein), progressive lenses with extras. I usually use For Eyes and use a AAA discount.

CTMOM said...

I had never heard of Frames Direct, and did find the exact pair I have ordered:


My optician was charging $300, got a $50 coupon so call it $250, I'll get another $80 back, so $170 for frames, I'm ok with that. FD quotes $212.50 so yes, a good price.

I'd worry about not being able to try glasses first. How did they fit? How do they look? Is that a good shape/color/size etc? My glasses are currently worn daily, so I really have to LOVE them.

I suppose one could go to any optical dept, select some frames, get the info and then order them directly, only to return to have the lenses made. Kind of a gray area for me, ethically speaking. Not sure that my optician would even fill the lens RX. They did on my current glasses (replaced original RX twice since owning the glasses)The always look on line to see that the glasses were purchased through them.

We've used this optician for years, they are great about free repairs, tighenings, refittings etc. Me and all of my kids were glasses (DD is lucky-only PT use) so this is an important issue for me.

My lenses are also tricky due to my RX. Not sure I feel comfortable doing that mail order. Additionally, the glasses "lab" is local. Gotta keep CT workers employed.

CTMOM said...

My friend uses Costco. I'll see if she'll take me to get a quote on coverting my current glasses to sunglasses, if not transitions-I hadn't considered doing that, may be a more practical option.

CTMOM said...

For eyes is located in NJ, PA and Boston area of Ma-so not a local option for me.

mikemax said...

Hey, Carol, mikemax is me, your old buddy Max. I don't order online for the same reason you don't--somebody needs to decide where to place the bifocal, and it isn't me! Lucky the person who wears a single Rx. If you don't wear bifocals, those Transitions lenses will be a lot cheaper than my $226 at Costco. Ditto high index lenses. Besides the sunglass angle, I just love the idea of backup glasses that are the same Rx, vs. using my old glasses.

CTMOM said...

HI Max
Yes, I wear progressive Bi-focals, and probably in a few years, will be moved into trifocals. So, I'll stick with what I have been doing for now. Add in myopia, astigmatism . . it's complicated. I also get Cryzal or Hoya anti glare-really helps in driving at night. I live in a town without street lights, so car headlights can be blinding. No more halos, which is great. Anti scratch coating as well.

laura sampson said...

well I hate to say it but we use the Vision Center--it's in walmart but up here in Alaska where EVERYTHING costs more I pay 150 for an eye exam and just under 150 for a WHOLE pair of glasses you might want to shop around for a better price--I haven't heard of anyone paying 700 dollars for a pair of glasses in 20 years--on the other hand we can't get new lenses put in or we pay cash for those our ins. does not cover that we have to get all new or nothing which is CRAZY

CTMOM said...

I just searched "vision center" and there are none within an hour of here. We do have WM's but they are tiny, especially compared to the super WM centers from the South. Since I timed this after meeting our deductible, my eye exam should be covered at 100%, zero out of pocket. Yes, glasses are expensive. Quite common around here to pay $450 and up, depending, of course on frames and what type of lenses are needed. Even if $600/6 years that is only $100/year for something I use everyday. I'm OK with that. Thanks for the tip on vision center, it may help someone else.