Vision Benefits and their Place in an Employee Health Benefits Plan
Vision benefits as part of an employee health benefits plan can vary widely from plan to plan. Some Plan Sponsors include them as part of the plan, and others do not. Unfortunately, many Plan Sponsors do not have a good understanding of the role that vision care benefits can play in mitigating plan costs.
Some companies choose not to cover vision care benefits in their employee health benefits plan. Others choose to provide very limited coverage. When coverage is provided, it can include any combination of the following:
- Eye examinations by an optometrist or ophthalmologist
- Prescription eyeglasses (lenses and frames)
- Prescription contact lenses
- Prescription sunglasses (lenses and frames)
- Corrective laser surgery
- Visual training aids (eye patches or similar devices)
There is a wide spectrum of vision care coverage, so the details of coverage are usually very plan-specific. Often, vision care benefits are a “two-year” benefit, meaning the coverage is capped at a certain amount for a two-year period.
A Window into the Body
An eye examination plays an important role in assessing a person’s overall health. In addition to determining how well a person is able to see, an eye examination can help identify many other health conditions.
For most health conditions, early detection is an important factor in a positive outcome. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, 75% of all vision loss and blindness is preventable with early detection.
An optometrist or ophthalmologist can identify early signs of chronic eye disease when completing an eye examination. They can also identify warning signs for other health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. These are conditions that if left untreated can have a significant impact on a person’s health.
Repercussions of No Vision Care Benefits
There are a number of direct and indirect costs associated with not providing vision benefits (or not providing comprehensive vision benefits). Because eye examinations are not covered by the public healthcare system, many people who do not have private coverage do not get their eyes examined.
In the workplace, a person who has poor vision is more likely to have a workplace accident. Even something as simple as missing a step while walking down the stairs can lead to an injury. In many cases, a person with poor vision may not realize how poor their vision really is. It’s usually a slow decline in vision which makes it harder to identify that it is happening. A regular eye exam and seeing the world through a corrective lens can really highlight vision that is not as it should be.
If your workforce spends a lot of time on a computer, screen time can also impact vision. Regular eye exams can provide corrective lenses to help stop a further decline in vision.
In addition to preventing injuries and further deterioration of vision, those with poor vision can have performance issues. High absenteeism, lower productivity and an earlier retirement age are just a few.
A regular eye examination is a good touchpoint to the body’s overall health. If a person does not have regular eye examinations, and diabetes or high blood pressure is not identified as a health issue, the person’s overall health may decline. This can lead to more prescription drug claims and other costs for the employee benefits plan.
It’s Why We’ve Partnered With Bailey Nelson
At GroupHEALTH, we believe in the importance of vision. We have partnered with global eyewear company Bailey Nelson to provide exclusive offers to GroupHEALTH Plan Members (regardless of whether they have vision care benefits or not).
This means discounts on prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses, contacts, non-prescription blue light filter glasses and non-prescription polarized sunglasses. It’s a great way for Plan Members to stretch benefit plan dollars and have access to discounts if they do not have vision benefits included in their plan.
Good Advice is Key
Does your employee benefits plan include vision care benefits? If not, have you considered what it could be costing you in productivity, prescription drug costs and absenteeism? Maybe it’s time to focus on providing comprehensive vision benefits. Explore your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, 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 benefits packages that work as hard as you do.
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