WellPoint Names Advisory Board, Implements 1-800 CONTACTS In-Network Program


WellPoint’s Richard C. Hom (l) and
Jeff Spahr.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) has announced the names of the members of its new WellPoint Vision Advisory Board created to help facilitate dialogue with its network of providers. In addition, on July 25, 2013, the managed care company launched a program to include 1-800 CONTACTS as an in-network provider of contact lenses on its vision plans. Both developments were originally announced in April by Jeff Spahr, president, vision services, in an exclusive interview with VMail, as reported April 30, 2013. These initiatives are intended to enhance WellPoint’s vision care offerings by “improving the provider/patient relationship,” Spahr told VMail.

The WellPoint Advisory Board members are:

• Harry Boparai, OD, medical director at New York Vision Group, chief of eyecare at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and Buena Vida Continuing Care and Rehabilitation Center
• Heath Gilbert, OD, past president of the Ohio Optometric Association and private practice at Dayton Optometric Center
• Douglas Kiefer, OD, LensCrafters in Colorado
• Karin E. Meng, MS, OD, chair, Healthcare Delivery Systems Committee for the California Optometric Association and private practice
• Steven Richlin, OD, optometry clinic chief, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and private practice
• Robert E. Smith, OD, staff optometrist, Eye Associates and private practice

“WellPoint is committed to meeting the needs of both our providers and patients,” said Spahr. “The advisory board will provide us with a forum to exchange ideas with providers and explore new ways to meet the needs of patients.”

“With all of the changes affecting health care and the vision care industry now and in the future, we believe the advisory board will give providers a voice on important decisions WellPoint is making that will impact the industry,” said Richard Hom, OD, MPA, FAAO, WellPoint’s national optometric director and chair of the advisory board. “The board will act as an early warning system for issues that might affect providers and the managed vision care industry, and it can serve as a resource and focus group for developing and implementing new programs, products and services to providers and our members,” he added.

While WellPoint envisions the advisory board as a tool for communicating with providers, it sees the 1-800 CONTACTS in-network program as both a benefit for members as well as a referral network for its providers. “Our members have requested we add an option that would allow them to purchase contact lenses online,” Spahr told VMail. “By adding 1-800 CONTACTS as an option, WellPoint is meeting the needs of a fast growing segment of our member base.” The largest direct-to-consumer retailer of contact lenses in the U.S., with over 15 million contact lenses in stock and delivering more than 200,000 contact lenses every day to customers, 1-800 CONTACTS was acquired by WellPoint in June of 2012, as reported by VMail June 4, 2012.

Both Spahr and Hom will be guests on the Aug. 21 edition of “The Power Hour,” the weekly radio talk show hosted by Gary Gerber, OD, founder of practice management company, The Power Practice (see below).