Optical Retailers Predict a Strong Year for 2013

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How will the economy affect business in 2013, and what impact will health care reform have? The following optical retailers told dba their expectations for the economic climate in 2013 and the effect it might have on their business for the coming year: Judd Sky, President/CEO, Partners in Vision Inc.; Jeff Press, Vice President, Merchandise and Design, Luxury Optical Holdings; Mark Johnson, Director of Optical Services, Virginia Eye Institute; and David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler, Alexandria, Va.

 


Judd Sky, President/CEO, Partners in Vision Inc., Linden, N.J.

What economic conditions are currently having an impact on your business plans for 2013, and what kind of impact are they having? Continued underemployment erodes consumer confidence, but we believe that as employment improves in 2013, consumer spending will increase.

How is the impending full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affecting your plans for 2013? As more people gain coverage, the number of examinations by eyecare providers will increase. We believe this will result in more prescriptions being written and more eyeglasses sold. This may also increase vision care coverage, which is a two-edged sword for optical retailers.

What other factors are affecting your plans for 2013? We anticipate a strong year in the optical industry due to an improving economy and pent up demand from patients who have put off purchasing new eyewear during the recession. We want to be among the first retailers to prepare for this growth by adjusting our frame inventory and product offerings.

 


Jeff Press, Vice President, Merchandise and Design, Luxury Optical Holdings (LOH), Las Vegas.

What economic conditions are currently having an impact on your business plans for 2013, and what kind of impact are they having? With the presidential election behind us and consumer confidence on the rise, we are very excited for 2013 and feel it will be a particularly strong year in the luxury sector.

How is the impending full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affecting your plans for 2013? The alterations to flexible spending may have an effect on how clients spend at the end of the year, but I think people have planned accordingly with these funds, so we expect the change to be fairly minimal in terms of any effect on the business.

What other factors are affecting your plans for 2013? With the economy on firmer ground, we feel confident that we can be more aggressive and assertive in our positioning as the luxury leader in the retail section of the industry, focusing on differentiating product like Morgenthal Frederics and superior service to continue to elevate and separate LOH stores from the remainder of the industry.

 


Mark Johnson, Director of Optical Services, Virginia Eye Institute, Richmond, Va.

What economic conditions are currently having an impact on your business plans for 2013, and what kind of impact are they having? The biggest impact will come from patients changing their health insurance plans to insurance plans we do not participate in. In the past we chose not to participate in these plans because of low reimbursement with low number of lives covered. Now we have to decide to accept these lower reimbursements to see the same patients or not to allow the patient to leave our practice with hopes of new patients taking their place. Negotiating with insurances can be complex, and this just adds to it.

How is the impending full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affecting your plans for 2013? One of the things this will do is increase the number of lives covered by Medicaid. Medicaid reimbursements are okay, but the downside of more Medicaid patients is the appointment no show rate is higher. This high no show rate affects scheduling and revenue.

What other factors are affecting your plans for 2013? The unknown of different decisions that Washington still has to make can hold us back some. All in all, our industry does have an advantage, and if we all work together within our communities, we all can help keep each other busy. If you take almost any area in the United States, you can find a large number of lives that do not get regular routine eye examinations. For example, Central Virginia has upwards of 700,000 lives that do not get regular routine eye examinations. Using that number, if all the eyecare professionals within the community work together to educate patients about the importance of routine eyecare, then there will be more than enough business for everyone. Along with that, it would also make a positive contribution to the education of our children, help increase grade scores as well as improve our work force. It is a win for everyone.

 

David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler, Alexandria, Va.

What economic conditions are currently having an impact on your business plans for 2013, and what kind of impact are they having? The first quarter of 2013 has started off strong for us. Perhaps patients are not hesitating to use whatever benefits they have now prior to the uncertainties of coming mandated changes.

How is the impending full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affecting your plans for 2013? We've made no change in this area this year, and we have a wait-and-see approach toward what's mandated prior to making changes.

What other factors are affecting your plans for 2013? We continue to streamline our efficiency in filing and collecting third party insurance. The ability to handle third party is critical to remaining competitive in the future.

 

If you would like to suggest subjects and/or questions for a future dba q&a, or if you are a mid-size regional optical chain and would like to participate in our next survey, please email jsailer@jobson.com.

 

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