Four things you may be overlooking in a vision plan

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Vision coverage is a valuable benefit in today's workforce and can be an effective tool in employee recruitment, retention and productivity. Yet, while policies may seem uniform on the surface, benefits, co-pays and allowances don’t always tell the whole story.

Employers need a customized eye care solution that fully meets the needs of their organization and employees with benefits that offer long-term value. Those who simply look at premiums and co-pays may be missing out on some of the most important things that a vision plan can offer.

Here are four factors commonly overlooked when shopping for vision coverage.

1. Customization to meet the needs of the organization and their employees

More organizations are offering vision and medical benefits to improve eye health and overall care among their workforce. But employees have individual needs, and their vision plans need to be tailored to reflect those goals. For example, if you have a contingent of older workers, they may need access to more specialized care, such progressive lenses, or cataracts surgery. Millennials, however might be more concerned about designer frames or blue light exposure.

A vision plan should also meet the needs of the industry in which it operates. Approximately 2,000 American workers experience eye-related injuries on the job every day from flying objects, tools, particles and chemicals. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, eye injuries lead to 37,000 missed days of work and more than $300 million in lost income.

In industrial fields, such as manufacturing and construction, a plan should offer access to protective prescription eyewear that is in compliance with OSHA and in accordance with the latest ANSI standards.

In an office environment, workers may benefit from a plan that covers anti-reflective lens coatings to reduce exposure to blue light, which can lead to digital eye strain and fatigue-related productivity loss.

2. Coverage and out-of-pocket costs

Another important factor for employers to consider when comparing vision plans is out-of-pocket costs. Insurance premiums only account for about 30 percent of the total costs of a vision plan. Employees pay for the remaining 70 percent out-of-pocket.

Out-of-pocket costs can vary widely from carrier to carrier, even on popular lenses like progressives or enhancements like anti-reflective coatings. Employers should carefully consider which plan would give their employees the best value at the best price.

3. The ability to boost engagement and productivity

A strong vision plan can go a long way in fostering engagement and retaining talent. A Wakefield Research study found that nearly all surveyed employees felt that offering vision coverage demonstrated that employers cared about their well-being. More than half also said they would be more likely to enroll if it could help improve their vision or if they learned eye exams could provide better insight into their overall health.

As many employees don't even realize they have a vision problem, plans should actively educate workers and encourage participation in annual eye exams. A study at the University of Alabama School of Optometry found that unrealized vision problems can result in a 20 percent loss of productivity.

The Vision Council reports that for every $1 invested in a vision plan, the company can experience a $7 return in increased productivity, fewer absences and greater employee satisfaction.

4. Long-term value

While many vision plans offer low premiums, employers should conduct a comprehensive cost analysis that factors in the long-term value for both the company and its workers. Plans that offset low premiums with high out-of-pocket costs can stir discontent with employees and reduce access to the quality care they need.

Employers should also consider that access to eye care can also reduce long-term healthcare costs. Optometrists can identity signs of many health problems ranging from cardiovascular disease and hypertension to diabetes, leukemia and brain tumors. Identifying these health issues earlier can reduce the costs and insurance implications of treating such illnesses.

A study by Human Capital Management Services found employees who sought care after earlier detection of diabetes by a VSP network doctor were 27 percent less likely to go to the ER, and also used fewer medications.

Consider VSP vision insurance for your company

Employees can use VSP® Vision Care at more than 84,000 access points nationwide. Typical VSP members see an annual savings of more than $360 in after plan costs. VSP also offers year-round enrollment with big savings on eye exams, designer frames, top-quality lenses and optimal lens enhancements.

Every employee is different. With VSP® EasyOptions, employers can give their employees and families the broad coverage to meet their specific needs at a fixed and manageable cost. Employees simply visit their eye doctor and after their exam they choose the upgrade that works best for them. The VSP ProTec Safety® Plan also meets the needs of industrial workers with safety frames and impact-resistant prescription lenses.

Visit getvsp.com/breakthroughs for more information.

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