Pure Magnetism

Source: Clipartkey.com

I just spent a tidy sum of money for new eyeglasses.

Wait, that’s only half right. Let me be rephrase: I just spent a tidy sum for new eyeglasses that I don’t technically need. There. I always feel better with a full disclosure. It’s easier than converting to Catholicism.

I’ll explain the “technically” part in a moment. What I wish to highlight though, in addition to my own apparent weakness for optical bells and whistles, is just how much of the American healthcare system is hideously a profit-making machine. Of course I’ve known that for a long time, but it startlingly comes back to me every couple of years when I step outside the familiar swamp of deductibles, co-pays, and those “reasonable and customary” provisos of primary care coverage. Once I enter that otherworld place called vision care, I lose my footing almost immediately.

Vision care is technically healthcare. But its byzantine pricing structure makes it feel more like an online Amazon shopping experience rather than a visit to a medical office. If colonoscopies had as many fun options, I bet doctors wouldn’t have to browbeat people so often to have them. “Can I offer you the apple pie-flavored sedative agent today, Mr. Carter?

As I mentioned, I didn’t technically need new glasses. The ones that I’ve been using are still fine, and in fact the vision exam I just completed confirmed that my eyesight hasn’t changed much from the one I had two years ago. So I could have skipped the visit to the optical department but for my lovely bride. Yes that’s right, I’m throwing Gorgeous under the bus here. It’s her fault that I now have snazzy new specs.

Until she becomes eligible for Medicare, Gorgeous remains solely covered by the health insurance plan I took into retirement, courtesy of my former employer. To use the terminology of my plan, I am the cardholder and she is the eligible spouse. Each year I am offered the chance to add or drop optional vision and dental coverage, but with a sticky proviso that coverage for me as the cardholder must be included in whatever choice we make. In other words, I can add Gorgeous or not, but she can’t be covered unless I also make that same choice. As a result, we’re both covered for vision coverage this year because she needs new glasses. So yes, all of this is HER fault.

Approximately $13 is deducted from my pension each month for the standard option plan of this insurance. There is a premium high option plan which costs $10 more, but it’s my hope that Gorgeous never learns of its existence.

I could have gotten away with just the eye exam included in our plan. However for an additional $39, I was offered to have retinal imaging taken. This is where they take a digital picture of the back of one’s eye to check for signs of disease or degeneration. If it’s only $39 why doesn’t the vision insurance just cover it? I have no idea, because none of the other tools in optometry offices look like they’ve changed much in the last 30 years. Again, vision care has lots of options, as I bet the snazzy BMW does that I spotted parked in the rear of the clinic also does.

Source: Cliparts Zone

We now get to the “in for a penny, in for a pound” part of my story. After my successful eye exam, I could have happily exited with my eye sight still in reasonably good shape and my wallet only down $39. But I haven’t yet mentioned how much I miss my old eyeglasses from two years ago; the ones with the magnetic clip-ons for driving.

Back in the nineties and early aughts, those babies were available in nearly every optical shop. Each time I got a new pair of glasses, I always replaced them with the same type. Boring yes but oh so convenient. Then… they suddenly disappeared. I kept asking for them at every optical visit. With perspiration gleaming off their money-grubbing palms, with dollar signs illuminating from their stingy eyes, with… — okay, sorry, I’ll get to the point — they instead suggested I buy a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses! Apparently those pesky magnetic clip-ons were ruining the sales of sunglasses.

The place I chose this time around, a locally-owned vision clinic still has them available for nerds like me. This clinic is also in-network with our insurance provider. Oh, and our tax refund coincidentally has recently been direct deposited.

What? Like I’m going to use it on a fabulous trip at the moment? I’m absolutely positive the CDC would approve of this expense instead.

Source: Manufactured Home Pro News

So, did you know that one company controls most of those fancy brand-name eyeglasses that you see in all of those shops? I didn’t either, but according to a 2019 Los Angeles Times article all those fancy brands such as Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace are all licensed by this one company, Luxottica. Furthermore, according to the Times article, Luxottica also runs LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical. Ah-ha. Now we know how the sausage is made.

Truth be told, I have no idea which brand of glasses I ultimately chose. Once I saw that this clinic actually had magnetic clip-ons, I leaped at the opportunity to get them. Monopoly or not, I became a kid in a candy store and was willing to pay for the privilege of having some again. Remember, the CDC wants this for me.

Of course, after you choose a pair you like, then you have decisions to make on all the options which make them fully resistant to the sun, skin cancer, Covid-19, and annual hurricanes. With each option the cost rises exponentially.

High quality progressive lens? Yes! Cha-Ching! $

Glare resistance? Absolutely! Cha-ching! $

Transitions? Of course! Cha-Ching! $

UV treatment? Zero idea what that is, but what the hell. Sure! Cha-Ching! $

The insurance covers $120 towards the lenses, followed by a complicated co-pay matrix on all of the other options for which I’d need Stephen Hawking to help explain it to me. Sadly he’s no longer with us. So I was on my own. Suffice to say I was probably putty in the hands of everyone on down from the eyeglass manufacturer, my insurance provider, and the clinic’s optician. But I nevertheless got my beloved magnetic clip-ons, and they’re still cheaper than that fancy vacation we’re told isn’t yet allowed. So thank you, Uncle Sam.

Until next time…

42 thoughts on “Pure Magnetism

  1. 🤣🤣🤣 Marty, have you ever thought of writing for Stephen Colbert? He could use you some evenings! This is awesome … and, of course, the funniest material is successful because it’s SO TRUE!! (I also loved my magnetic clip-ons, not to mention our mattress before you could only get rapidly-dent-forming pillow-tops.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes. Pillows and mattresses, Jane. A whole other realm, eh? 🙂 I think Stephen is doing pretty well on his own, but you’re awfully kind to even suggest such a thing. All I was thinking as I wrote this was how they probably don’t have this problem in Canada! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, if only. I can get my shoulder replacement surgery, blood tests, doctor visits, even a heart transplant (or COVID test or jab) without a bill in sight, plus a free vision exam every two years. But buying glasses is BUYING glasses. Not QUITE so differentiated, but bloody expensive for anything more than the most rudimentary of lenses. Since I can’t really even get out of bed without my glasses, they are a major but essential item!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to hear from you! Just in time for getting ready for hurricane season…geesh, can it really be a year since all parts of the USA had to hunker down for reasons other than hurricane season?
    Oh if hubby had known about these specs with the magnetic shades…he’d be fighting you for the remaining pairs available in 2021! Truth be told, he didn’t wear glasses until the turn of this century and survived using Walgreens readers until ten years into Y2K!!!!
    Now? He’s stuck trying different sunglasses ‘clip ons’ and you know they are just a crazy pain in the neck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here we go again starting in a couple of months, Laura! The optician ended up ordering even more for me to come back and look at, so the magnetic clips ARE available. Most optical joints just don’t want to sell them because it means they won’t get a sunglasses sale. 🙂 Glad your hubby is no longer wearing drugstore readers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How timely, Marty. Hubby is due for new glasses and knowing these clever magnetic clips/frames are out there is a huge motivation to put that task higher up on the list of ‘gotta do’s’.
        Thanks for the tip!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know they existed! How cool to snap them puppies on! I bought a pair of glasses at a mom and pop store a few years back and the optician told me I don’t need all that stuff. Just transitions and progressives. Way cheaper.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, eyeglasses are something I know a lot about. Remember the name of my blog. Yes, I knew that Luxottica owns just about everything related to any eyeglasses you want to wear. I drive [well used to when I did things outside the house] by the NA headquarters often. I also know that prescription eyeglasses are incredibly expensive, and that our insurance plan doesn’t cover even 1¢ toward them. I think you hit the jackpot with $120.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cha-ching, Ally! I had never heard of Luxottica, but then I’m horribly ignorant about glasses and anything designer-related. Still, there monopoly on the industry is rather insulting from a consumer view of course. Glad I hit the jackpot somewhere in this saga — I purposely didn’t mention how much I spent. Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Those are the coolest things I’ve ever seen! Too bad the ex didn’t know about them.
    I’ve never worn glasses but I’ve started wearing sunglasses.
    I think I’ve been to an optometrist three times in my life. I got hoodwinked into buying a $700. pair of designer sunglasses…with all the accoutrements you described. They really enjoy resting in their matchy-matchy case. They never fit right. 😡
    So it was off to Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. ( I can’t remember which). Found a pair of “designer” sunglasses for less than 10 dollars.
    I just can’t get over how cool those clip-ons are! (Did I say that already?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are sooooooo convenient, Laurel! I was seriously bummed two years ago when I couldn’t find them.

      So sorry your expensive ones never fit well. There’s a lesson there somewhere, but I don’t suggest taking it from me. I merely said “yes” to everything that was offered! 🙂


  6. I feel your pain. And I agree our health care system is very lucrative for some. Have you heard of Zenni – i.e. purchasing prescription glasses online? I don’t wear prescription glasses, but Dan does. We took his prescription from the eye doctor along with one other number (some ratio number we had to ask for). He got glasses (about a year ago) that he was very happy with. The glasses had all kinds of options. Total cost – even with all the fancy options – about $100. Just a thought. Enjoy your new glasses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t heard of that, Betty! It definitely sounds like something worth considering. The underlying issue here that I didn’t want to get into because the post would have ended up being endless, is that vision insurance is probably not worth it. Thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I completely agree. You should totally write for Steven Colbert or Seth Meyers or either Jimmy…they all need you. You had me laughing from the initial ClipartKey image…right to the very end. Enjoy your new clipons…and the extras!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I LOVED those glasses. I had them maybe five years ago and haven’t seen them since. We have ‘minimal’ visual insurance. I have an eye appointment in April and assume I’ll be in the same sinking $$$ boat. I dislike the experience of buying eyeglasses as much as I do shopping for a car. When they add up all the options, I always have the urge to say ‘you’re kidding, right.’ Highway robbery, just like the stupid mattresses than you can’t flip over. Age showing here, and I make no excuses. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Five years seems about right, Judy. I was broken-hearted when I couldn’t get them last time around, but admittedly I also didn’t search for them either. This time around I made several phone calls (and I mean several) until I found a place that had them. Love your comparison to the mattresses that you can’t flip over — perfect. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh I giggled at this, especially the cha-ching part! Being blind (-6.5 in each eye) and with glaucoma as you know we visited the opticians and came out €815 euro lighter not counting my monthly subscription of €40 for contact lenses! Cha-Ching indeed! And I don’t even have magnetic clip-ons! 😂😂 Hope your back better Marty Moisy ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s crazy how it all adds up for something that is still considered “medical” by any definition, Moisy! Back is finally better thanks, but I have miles to go until I can really get it core-strengthened again. That won’t happen until we get back to our gym, post-second shot I hope. I hope you’re doing better also!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your heading photo, Marty. Uncanny resemblance.😎 Colonoscopy versus eye exam…difficult choice…not. Interesting information how one company controls most of the brand names. I will share your info about magnetic clip-ons with a girlfriend who is big on the clip-ons. My glasses story/contribution could fill a book. Let’s just say my husband still looks good to me, so best to not wear glasses. Thanks for the reminder to get my eyes checked, Marty.😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You almost made me spit out my coffee with your comment, Erica! An old spin on the “drink till he/she looks good” line from my youth. The clip-ons are out there, but I learned I had to really call around to find them. Turns out I was ignoring a place that’s only like four miles from where we live. Oops. Tell your friend to keep searching if she can’t get the on the first or second go-round.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I just made an appointment for an eye exam. I think I’ll be repurposing my frames one more time…….with all the add ons you describe, they will still cost a small fortune.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. 😂😂😂😂😂 I get 2 pairs for $200 under my insurance and as long as I only choose the ones that’s covered the insurance pays the $200. I didn’t get any extras! So no out of pocket except I’ve lost my new pair of glasses 😩

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, Vy. Glad now that you didn’t get the extras! Yes, if I’d only gotten a basic pair that the insurance covers I’d pay zero or probably just a nominal amount. But then I’d have nothing to write about. The sacrifices I make for this blog, I tell ya! 😎

      Liked by 1 person

  13. That good-looking chap the smiling Optometrist is pointing a machine at, that’s not you then? I’m truly crestfallen. Unless, of course, you have recently converted to Catholicism and changed your name Art Clip.


  14. Vision insurance is a bit of a joke. It covers almost nothing!! At least in my experience so I haven’t had it for a while. Plus I was limited as to who I could see for eye exams. Lately, I’ve been using my HSA money for it. I tried Warby Parker the last time I needed new glasses. No cheaper and no place to visit when the nose piece needed repair. Think I’m back to LensCrafters. I see an ophthalmologist who I recently discovered is covered by our medical insurance. We’ll see if that means routine eye exams or only something serious is covered. I never wore glasses until my late 40s when I tired of readers. Almost makes me want cataracts after hearing my friends’ stories of no more glasses after surgery!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Careful what you wish for! 🙂

      If one is happy enough to accept a basic pair of glasses with no frills, other than the lenses (for which the insurance coverage is actually pretty decent, then I think getting the insurance might be a good deal. But once you start adding on all the options — and I apparently do like my options — I do wonder if it’s worth it. Already our dentist, who is in-network with the dental coverage, we’ve noticed is asking us to waive some of the agreed-upon charges. Insurance is such a scam.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hubby found some of those old clip on sunglasses (not magnetic, clip on!) at the local flea market a few years ago and was so excited! That flea market is now gone. And I’m bummed because they also had a vendor who sold really nice Polarized sunglasses for $10 and $10 sunglass readers! (yes, I still do cheap reader and sunglasses as I am horrible at not damaging them) Ah well, all good & cheap things seem to be harder and harder to find. Your account of the cha-ching on the glasses made me wonder how hubby is adding benefits to his glasses these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe me, with the exception of the progressive lenses, the insurance coverage for the rest of those options isn’t much to write home about at all. I spent so much that it does make me wonder about the value of the insurance. Gorgeous has gone through more glasses because of being careless. One time she stepped on them while painting. Ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Man, Marty, good timing on this post as I prepare for my first “uninsured” visit to a new eye doctor. I knew before I needed it but since I could barely read the code on my cell phone that would allow me to securely log in it’s a good thing I didn’t put it off any longer.

    Another Medicare related heads up you and Gorgeous might appreciate down the road. If you have a potential medical reason for such a visit, Medicare will at least cover part of it. I’ll find out how big a part next week!

    Re the clipons, I also remember them well and may even have had them on the oldest pair of glasses still in personal use. I’ve collected many more pairs of newer glasses, including a pair of sunglasses (for driving only since they are not bifocals which you can probably guess I now need) along with a slew of other frame shapes, lens treatments and lined and unlined bifocals.

    I’ve been lucky in that my prescription has not appreciably changed over the years. I have a feeling though that I may be near the end of this lucky streak.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the future Medicare tip, Sue. It’s appreciated! My oldest sister swears by the vision coverage in her Advantage plan. She teeters every open enrollment in possibly switching back to Original Medicare, but she always holds off when she sees that the vision coverage in her current plan remains unchanged. I doubt I’ll ever be in a Advantage plan, but I nevertheless take your point here. I am thinking it might be better to go “uninsured” and try to bargain for a better deal.

      Good luck with that appointment!


      1. That’s what’s usually recommended since it offers more flexibility in choice of doctors. My appointment actually turned out to be a series of several appointments since the office I selected was associated with the local hospital and each part of it was handled by different people and equipment. Seems like everything went fine and I was looking to establish a baseline with which to compare in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

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