How poor preventive care can cost your business

VSP Real World Solution Series

As the cost of healthcare and insurance premiums continues to rise, more employers are moving to high-deductible plans to help reduce their expenses. While these plans offer advantages to both workers and employers, such as lower premiums and access to health savings accounts, they can also encourage patients to forgo routine checkups or preventive care – even if they are free or low-cost.

A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which analyzed a large manufacturer between 2009 and 2014, found that workers who enrolled in high-deductible health plans actually made fewer visits to the doctor overall. That finding presents a challenge to managing long-term costs and shows that employers will need to leverage other tools in conjunction with high-deductible plans to keep costs in check.

One of those tools is a good vision plan, which can help mitigate risks to eyes as well as improve the overall health of employees.

A comprehensive vision plan is a key component of reducing healthcare costs
With employees cutting back on visits to the doctor, vision care can act as stopgap to help identify other health issues. The Vision Council reports that optometrists can spot early signs of many health problems, ranging from cardiovascular disease and hypertension to diabetes, leukemia and brain tumors. Identifying these health issues sooner can reduce the costs and insurance implications of treating and managing them.

Dr. Jim Hale, Corvallis optometric physician, told the Oregon Optometric Physicians Association that even minor blurred vision could be a sign of a serious medical condition. "Having an annual vision exam is one way to see into the status of your health and potentially spot medical issues that should be dealt with right away," Hale said.

Unaddressed vision problems affect worker productivity
According to the Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits survey, nearly 80 percent of employees say they encounter at least one visual disturbance at work, and more than half said they didn't take even one daily break to rest their eyes. Another study by Transitions Optical Inc. found that eye-focusing problems may cause employees to lose up to 15 minutes of work time per day or $2,000 per employee each year. With approximately 125 million full-time employees in the U.S., that equates to $250 billion in annual lost productivity.

According to a report by the American Optometric Association, employers typically recoup $7 in increased productivity for every $1 they spend on vision care.

Why vision care is worth it for employers and employees
Vision insurance can offer such a solid return on investment because it has a relatively low cost and people use it. A study by an independent research firm for the National Association of Vision Care Plans found that consumers who have a full-service, stand-alone vision plan are two times more likely to receive an annual comprehensive eye exam. If you’ve moved to a high-deductible healthcare plan, a stand-alone vision care option is a smart, simple and effective solution to reduce long-term costs.

While good vision is a cornerstone of wellness, research indicates only 18 percent of employers view their vision plan as a significant part of their company's wellness strategy. That discrepancy suggests a missed opportunity for organizations looking for a low-cost, high-engagement option to drive employee wellness.

Choose a great vision plan for your team
Offering a vision plan is an inexpensive benefit that employees want, that they will use, and that will pay for itself many times over in early intervention and productivity. A study conducted by VSP® Vision Care and Vision Critical, found that VSP has 23 percent higher enrollment than other vision plans. It’s also the only national not-for-profit vision company focused on delivering high-quality care at the lowest out-of-pocket costs, making VSP a clear choice for employers.

To learn more about VSP’s comprehensive vision plans, visit

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