Earlier this month, I blogged about a MetLife report that discussed how small and medium size businesses can compete for employees by improving their benefits packages. A new study on the topic of vision benefits indicates that more insurance companies and brokers will be promoting this specialty package to employers of all sizes, as well. The report comes at a time when more employees, especially those over age 45, are reaching for corrective lenses to see what’s on the computer screen.
Though many consumers believe eye care is a critical part of overall good health, they often do not follow through on recommended levels of care. For example, they:
- Do not get an annual eye exam: 50%
- Do not wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun: 42%
However for consumers who have stand-alone vision plans that include both exams and eyewear, the annual exam rate is 33%. This rate compares positively to the 13% who have eye exams covered by their health care plans.
Currently 17% of employers offer vision coverage as a benefit. The average annual cost of this benefit to employers is about $80 per employee. And employers say the following about providing eye exams for their employees:
- Extremely important: 37%
- Very important: 34%
- Important: 23%
Industry experts are encouraging vision carriers to join forces with local providers to make the eye exam experience as easy as possible. Local brokers can then market policies to employers and emphasize the benefits of plans that extend beyond simple vision correction. Vision problems which are caught and treated early can result in lower medical costs and improved quality of life for employees. Diagnosed vision problems include:
- Diabetic retinopathy – especially high for Hispanic-Americans
- Glaucoma – especially high for African-Americans
- Ocular cancer
As the focus on preventive health care increases across the U.S. , more insurance carriers and brokers will be promoting vision plans to employers.[Sources: NAVCP User Survey. Vision Monday. 19 Jul. 2010. Web. 26 Jul. 2010; Communicating the Value of Vision Benefits to Employers. Healthy Sight Working for You. ]