Benefits Basics for Employers: Vision Benefits

There are many facets to a robust employee benefits plan, and vision care is often in the mix. Some may think that vision care isn’t all that important when supporting employees, but there are several important reasons to ensure it’s part of your benefits plan.

Focus on Coverage

Visions care benefits typically cover visits to an optometrist or ophthalmologist, as well as products prescribed by these providers. The coverage itself often varies widely between plans, but often includes any combination of the following:

  • Vision and eye examinations
  • Corrective lenses, frames and contacts
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Corrective laser eye surgery

Often, vision coverage benefits are valid for a period of 24 months before they reset. This means your employee’s coverage amount is shared over a two-year period. Other employers may choose to provide the coverage for every benefit year – the choice is yours.

A Helpful Lens

Most would agree that sight is one of the most important of all our senses. It’s what we rely on most. Along with hearing, sight is one of the only ways we can sense something from a distance. Throughout evolution it has been closely tied to survival.

As with many other health-related services, without coverage, employees are less likely to access them. Vision care is expensive; eye examinations cost anywhere from $75-$250, and glasses and contact lenses cost much more. Because the decline of sight is often a slow process, it may be difficult for your employee to recognize that it is happening. If the employee doesn’t have coverage and doesn’t realize that their sight is declining, they are less likely to pay out-of-pocket for an eye examination.

Eye examinations aren’t just important for ensuring your employee can see; a close inspection of lens, retina and optic nerve can also help identify other health conditions. This can be a non-invasive way of early detection – sometimes before symptoms occur. Some of the health conditions that can be identified during an eye examination include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Look at the Big Picture

All employee benefits are an investment, vision care benefits are no different. Providing this coverage will cost you, but your investment in vision care (encouraging employees to look after their vision) is sure to yield many positives for your business.

  1. Increased productivity – Employees who can’t see well often miss out on important details on account of their poor vision. Perhaps they can’t read the slideshow in your employee meetings or they miss identifying an imperfection on the manufacturing line; there is significant research around poor eyesight and its impact on productivity.
  2. Fewer workplace accidents – Poor vision can result in more workplace accidents. Misjudging distance, missing a step or failing to see an obstacle can all lead to falls or accidents. This in turn translates into an increase in disability claims. In the end, poor vision can really cost you. Ensuring your employees have good vision is an important element in keeping them safe.
  3. Earlier diagnosis of health conditions – A thorough eye exam checks for much more than poor vision. Regular eye exams can contribute to the early detection of a myriad of health challenges. Identifying a health challenge early on can help contribute to a more positive outcome. Early detection can mean fewer absences, fewer drug claims and fewer disability claims.
  4. Attract and Retain Employees – Likely, one of the goals of your employee health benefits plan is to support your efforts to attract and retain the best employees. Generally, vision benefits are highly valued by employees. In conjunction with a comprehensive benefits plan, vision benefits are likely to contribute to recruitment and retention efforts.

Controlling Costs

As with any employee benefit, budget is always a consideration when designing the plan and selecting benefits. When it comes to vision benefits, first consider the return-on-investment for providing coverage. Do you think it’s valuable to have productive employees? Fewer workplace accidents? Of course you do! Then this is an investment worth considering.

There are also other ways to tackle the costs of providing vision benefits. Cost sharing with your employee is one option. You pay for a portion of the coverage and your employee pays for the remainder. If this is what makes sense for your organization, then it’s a good option.

Finally, one of the keys to controlling costs (for all employee benefits) is to educate employees. Teach them their role in protecting the sustainability of the plan. Encourage them to “shop around” and be mindful of purchasing unnecessary products.

Good Advice is Key

Do you “see” your employee health benefits plan as a valuable resource that supports your employees’ eyesight and health? Are you considering whether or not vision care is right for your organization? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person, or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.

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