The Value of Bundling Vision Plans with Medical or Dental Benefits

Next to wages, a comprehensive benefits package is critical to attract and retain talent. However, many health plans omit ancillary benefits such as dental and vision or offer dental insurance only. This leaves members to seek vision care out of pocket or find their own vision care plan, which can be expensive.

Obtaining comprehensive health benefits is a priority for the average worker, and in many cases, the right benefits package can be more important than base pay. In fact, American workers value extra benefits; the American Institute of CPAs reported that by a ratio of 4:1, Americans would choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered a 30 percent higher salary without benefits. When developing compensation packages, benefits must be robust and competitive, including ancillary benefits such as dental and vision.

According to Health Affairs, most workers employed by large companies that provide health benefits have access to an employer-subsidized dental plan. Yet, vision may be seen as more important by American workers, who rank loss of vision at ten on a scale of 1-10 when compared with a list of things that would negatively impact their life and ability to work.

By bundling vision with dental or medical, comprehensive benefit packages can be designed to support workers’ health. These comprehensive health benefits packages add value in many ways:

Eye Disease Prevention

Routine eye exams can predict future problems by identifying conditions such as eyestrain, diabetes and hypertension. All of these underlying health issues can cause severe and permanent vision impairment. By diagnosing health problems that lead to common eye issues and diseases in their early stages, appropriate treatment can be provided to avoid permanent vision loss.

The longer an eye issue is present, the more it costs to fix, with full recovery for the worker less likely, according to the CDC. According to the World Health Organization, half of all cases of vision impairment or blindness could have been prevented with education and appropriate treatment.

Cost Savings

Top on the list of eye conditions that directly impact U.S. workers, and through them, the economy, are age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the total economic impact of vision problems in the U.S. is approximately $51.4 billion per annum.

By providing employees with the opportunity and motivation to get regular eye exams, costs associated with lost productivity due to eye problems can be minimized. Health care costs based on the treatment of advanced eye disease can also be curtailed with preventive measures, helping to maintain both worker eye health and employee productivity. Early detection and disease management of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease that cost health plans and members millions annually can help to reduce health care costs.  

Increased Productivity

According to the American Optometric Association, dry eye disease can cause reduced workplace productivity that worsens the longer the condition persists. One survey saw an average of 20-25 percent reduction in productivity across the workers studied.

One of the most recent concerns about employee productivity related to vision is the increase in Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Eyestrain and vision issues caused by looking at a computer screen all day can negatively impact both worker health and productivity. 

When corrective lenses are out of date, CVS can become markedly worse, according to EHS Today. Access to vision care that covers annual eye exams and new prescription lenses can help identify issues early and allow for education about screen use and ways to minimize other screen-related vision concerns, such as blue light damage.

Benefits of Offering Vision Coverage

Employers are looking for health plan vendors who offer comprehensive solutions. Bundling vision benefits with medical or dental can make packages more attractive and can reduce health coverage expenses. Options include combining vision with medical as an all-in-one bundle or offer vision and dental as a voluntary bundle to the primary health benefit.

This can be presented to purchasers as a way to enhance recruitment and retention and alleviate complexities at the administrative level, thanks to the simplified bundling function. Whatever the subsidy split is between employer and employee, it can be easily managed through a single interface with payroll to ensure benefits are funded.

By bundling vision with medical or vision with dental, vision care is placed on a par with other health care, sending employees the message that a routine eye exam is as important as an annual physical. The simplicity of having vision care in a readily accessible health benefits package increases the likelihood that it will be used for the betterment of the worker’s health.

Insurance brokers can position bundled services as a way to reduce costs and increase revenues. The benefits can readily be presented as far outweighing the negligible additional cost per worker for employers. 

Regardless of how vision benefit plans are packaged, the fact remains that vision care is crucial to the health of millions of American workers and their ability to remain productive. Adding vision to health and dental plans makes vision care more accessible. When workers have routine eye exams, early detection of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other ailments is more likely, and intervention is more likely to be effective.

Creating a comprehensive health benefits package is easy. Just add vision to your current offerings of medical coverage options or vision with dental for a robust ancillary bundle that delivers extra value to workers and employers.

Click here to learn more about Versant Health’s vision plans offerings  for commercial and ancillary plans.

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