There’s nothing like having vision care insurance and thinking you’re ‘covered’ — only to pay hundreds of dollars every time you need a new pair of prescription eyeglasses.
The truth is, the $100-billion prescription eyeglass industry is one of the biggest near-monopolies.
And the industry gets richer and richer by ripping off consumers and charging 10 to 20 times the cost of a pair of frames and lenses.
Shocking, and appalling, right?
In the US alone, approximately 126 million people need prescription eyewear.
The average cost of a pair of frames for the consumer is $231 (for the consumer). The actual cost to manufacture the frames? As low as $10.
Why, why, why?
“Everything is worth what people are ready to pay,” said Andrea Guerra, CEO of Luxottica.
Based in Italy, Luxottica (a company most people have never heard of), owns just about everything.
Its owned and licensed brands include the likes of Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue, and Versace. It also runs EyeMed Vision Care, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut, and Target Optical.
What does that mean for you?
Columnist David Lazarus of the LA Times puts it this way: “Just pause to appreciate the lengthy shadow this one company casts over the vision care market. You go into a LensCrafters retail outlet, where the salesperson shows you Luxottica frames under various names, and then the company pays itself when you use your EyeMed insurance.”