Dr Dean Dornic added to Insurers' list

November 14, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Dr. Dean Dornic is one of the Carolinas’ most experienced and qualified refractive surgeons, having performed thousands of successful LASIK surgery procedures at his Cary practice and at area clinics and hospitals! He is a board-certified, fellowship-trained, vision correction specialist dedicated to the highest standards in ophthalmic surgery. Most insurers still view laser eye surgery as a cosmetic procedure, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina believes many of its members are looking to correct their vision with this high-tech surgery.

Blue Cross announced plans earlier this month to begin offering a 40 percent discount off the cost of laser eye surgery for its members. Laser Assisted in Situ Karato-mileusis (LASIK) surgery, which usually costs nearly $2,000 per eye, will be offered for $1,395 per eye beginning August 1.

"With OpticBlue, we are able to make laser vision correction more affordable for our customers without compromising quality or convenience," says Bob Greczyn, Blue Cross president and chief executive officer. "In many cases, these are local doctors who have taken care of Blue Cross customers and their families for years."

True, but right now only two opthalmologists, Dr Dean Dornic of Laser Eye Center of Carolina in Cary and Dr. Frank Lowry of Lowry Opthalmology in north Raleigh, have been selected to receive patients from Blue Cross's 1 million subscribers. OptiCare Director of Credentials Jeremy Meyers, says a few more physicians are expected to be added in Durham and Chapel Hill during the coming weeks.

Health care consultants think funneling Triangle-area LASIK patients through only two doctors is not the best approach.

For one, the discount means doctors will see profits grow only if their client volume increases significantly. It also will force Blue Cross members who want LASIK surgery performed to see an opthalmologist they may have never seen before.

Blue Cross chose the two opthalmologists after contracting with Rocky Mount-based OptiCare Eye Health Networks to perform a search for appropriate eye care providers. Both Dornic and Lowry are members of the OptiCare network and comply with National Committee of Quality Insurance Standards. Neither has ever had a complaint filed against them by one of their patients, according to the North Carolina Medical Board.

Dr Dean Dornic says he already treats about 400 patients annually, and Lowry's practice administrator, Jennette Cox, says Lowry performs the procedure on nearly 1,000 patients each year. But the offices disagree on whether the new agreement will increase their volume of patients.

"I don't think patients are holding out for a bargain," Dr Dean Dornic says. "Right now, patients can get the procedure for cheaper than (the Blue Cross discount) if they want to," says Dornic, referring to offices that ask patients to prepay for the surgery so the provider can purchase a laser, then perform the surgery at a later date. "But I do think it will be profitable," says Dr Dean Dornic.

Cox says Lowry's office has already performed four evaluations since the announcement by Blue Cross, but that it's difficult to say if that signifies a trend.

"We're going to have to take a wait-and-see attitude," Cox says.

LASIK surgery, which has been available in the U.S. since the middle 1990s and has treated half a million patients ­ including golf great Tiger Woods ­ is available at several clinics in the Triangle area, including UNC Hospitals and Duke University Medical Center. Many health insurers will not cover the procedure, although they will cover laser surgery for what they deem to be a medical condition.

OpticBlue will not be offered to people who subscribe to government health plans, such as the Federal Employees Program and the State Health Plan, because of long-term contracts already in place. Blue Cross plans to work with these groups to add OpticBlue.

OpticBlue will not be a covered program through Blue Cross, so patients will be responsible for the entire cost of the surgery. Under the contract, after one year, the procedure will be available at a 20 percent discount from the prevailing rate in the region. Dornic says he expects patients will see a rate increase in 2001.

Dr Dean Dornic
Laser Eye Center of Carolina | Eye Specialists of Carolina, PA | 3701 NW Cary Parkway, Suite 101 | Cary, North Carolina 27513
(919) 439-1174

Eye Specialists of Carolina, PA | 1609 Booker Dairy Road | Smithfield, North Carolina 27577