How the Public in general and EyeMed Members in particular are Being Deceived
Ray-Ban, Giorgio Armani, Coach, Oliver Peoples, Prada, Oakley, Maui Jim, Chanel, Anne Klein, Brooks Brothers, Bulgari, Burberry, Chaps, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Paul Smith, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Persol, and Tiffany & Company. Recognize these names? Well chances are if you’ve shopped for eyewear at Target, Pearle Vision, Sears or many other Optometrist’s offices you’ve seen these brands of eyewear. But did anyone tell you that they are all designed and manufactured by one company? They are all mass produced in the same factories in China and Italy by a very secretive company called Luxottica. Why is this a bad thing? It’s because the consumer doesn’t get to know that the brand Coach has nothing to do with the purses that you love, and when Luxottica puts the name Coach on a frame, the price doubles or even triples! Luxottica not only churns out all of these brands of eyewear at millions of frames a year, they also own the stores that sell them. Lenscrafters, Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, Target and Sears Opticals are also all owned by Luxottica. Luxottica owns a company that fabricates prescription eyeglass lenses as well, including progressive multifocal lenses. Their optical stores only sell Luxottica's own progressive brand, passing them off as "just as good" as the high quality lenses that your Doctor might recommend.
If you have EyeMed "insurance", that is also a Luxottica brand that funnels patients to it’s own optical shops, making them believe that is where they must go to use their benefits, or where they should go get the best "deal". Employers and their Human Resources departments are contracting with EyeMed for vision plans without understanding that they are paying premiums to Luxottica for "vision coverage", just so their employees can use their "benefits" (plus spend more on additional out of pocket copays and options) at Luxottica's optical stores. Luxottica is actually manipulating you into paying them for the privilege of buying their frames and lenses at greatly inflated retail prices from their own stores. Can this really be considered Insurance??
Sure there are private practice Eye Doctors who accept Eyemed, but that may be changing. Eyemed is continually pushing to control Doctors decision-making and cutting reimbursements, and many Doctors are deciding to drop them. Some believe that this is intentional so that Luxottica can further monopolize the industry. Already Luxottica has amassed 35 million members by selling their routine vision insurance to employers and other Medical Health insurance companies like Aetna. As any good monopoly would, Luxottica is doing its best to ensure that Eyemed members use only Luxottica for their eye care needs.
The latest tactic is that EyeMed no longer allows private practice Doctors to choose what optical lab they trust to provide the best quality, most reliable lenses to their patients. Eyemed patients must have their lenses made by a lab that has financial dealings with Luxottica. This lab directly charges the Doctor more for these lenses than a private lab does, and some Doctors are complaining about poor quality coming from this lab. Why should you care? Well, primarily it is because Luxottica's business practices are deceptive in that they appear to provide consumers with many choices for their eye care needs, when really the only choice you have is to give your money to Luxottica, one way or the other.
60 minutes did a segment about this, and it can be viewed here:
60 Minutes - Luxottica. Do you know who makes your glasses?