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Vision Coverage Can Reduce Overall Health Care Costs

May 11, 2021 at 6:58 pm vision Research has found that employers who offered their workers stand-alone vision benefits experienced $5.8 billion in cost savings in the aggregate over four years due to reduced health care costs, avoided productivity losses, and lower turnover rates. That’s because individuals who receive an annual comprehensive eye exam are more likely to enter the health care system earlier for treatment of serious health conditions, thereby significantly reducing their long-term cost of care. Additionally, people are more likely to get an annual comprehensive eye test than a routine physical, according to the study by HCMS Group, a human capital risk management firm that analyzes data to help employers reduce waste in health benefits. While not mandatory under the Affordable Care Act for adults, you may consider vision coverage for your employees as it may help decrease your overall health insurance outlays in the future. The ACA requires that pediatric vision care coverage be embedded in medical benefits for children up to age 19 in group health plans purchased by employers with 100 or fewer employees. The ACA’s vision care requirement for kids has exposed a gap in coverage for adults that is prompting an uptick in interest in voluntary vision benefits. According to the “2020-2021 WorkForces Report” by the life insurer Aflac, 67% of U.S. employers surveyed offered voluntary vision benefits in 2020. And nearly eight out of 10 employees said they would enroll in vision benefits if they were offered by their employer.

Early detection

The main reason vision benefits can help with early detection of illnesses is that comprehensive eye exams provide the only possible non-invasive view of blood vessels and the optic nerve. As a result, eye doctors can detect early signs of chronic diseases before any other health care provider. Eye doctors were the first to identify in patients signs of:
  • Diabetes (34% of the time) — The HCMS study estimates savings of $3,120 per employee due to early identification of diabetes.
  • High blood pressure (39% of the time) — The study estimates savings of $2,223 per employee due to early identification of high blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol (62% of the time) — The study estimates savings of $1,360 per employee due to early identification of high cholesterol.

The case for vision insurance

Vision insurance policies typically cover routine eye tests and other procedures, and provide specified dollar amounts or discounts for the purchase of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some vision insurance policies also offer discounts on refractive surgery, such as LASIK and PRK. Vision insurance only supplements regular health insurance. Regular health insurance plans pay for eye injuries or ocular disease. Vision insurance, on the other hand, is a wellness benefit designed to reduce your costs for routine, preventative eye care such as eye exams, eyewear and other services. With the prospect of reduced health care costs among your employees, which in turn would reflect well in your health insurance premiums, if you have not considered vision benefits before, it may be time to take a second look. Contact us for more information on how a vision plan can be incorporated into your employee benefits offerings.

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