BY ANTONIO MORAES
FOR MOST EMPLOYERS, vision benefits have been a “check the box” offering because there has been little innovation in the last 50 years. Employees typically choose between two fairly standard plans, with limited coverage, and may never take advantage of them at all, despite the fact that premiums typically cost between $96-$144 per year (or over $340 for a family plan). As a result, a small fraction of your client’s workforce uses its vision benefits to obtain glasses or contacts each year.
Instead of opting for the status quo and “checking the box” with your benefit plan offerings and failing to see a real return on investment (ROI), here are six reasons why offering better vision benefits will help you boost employee utilization, lower benefits costs for you and your employees, and retain your best people.
1. Employees want better vision beneﬁts
A recent study by Vision Monday magazine showed that 87% of employees surveyed would be more likely to stay at a company that offered high-quality vision benefits, such as coverage of premium lens and frame options. Not only do great vision benefits help with employee retention, but research has repeatedly shown that access to high-quality benefits is a key factor job candidates consider when deciding whether to join a new company. It shouldn’t be understated either that most employees would take a pay cut in exchange for better benefits, too.
2. Vision insurance cost gaps affect most employees
Not only do your employees want robust vision plans for themselves, but they also want to rein in costs to cover their families as well. For a family of four with traditional vision insurance, the average price of doctor-recommended glasses exceeds $306 at what is considered a 3,000% markup, even after applying traditional vision benefits. Add in the premiums and a family of four is typically spending over $1,000 with vision care and vision insurance.
When you consider that 60% of Americans don’t have
$1,000 saved for emergency expenses, it’s no wonder why high out-of-pocket costs in the retail environment lead to many employees opting out of utilizing their vision plans each year.
3. Employees are drastically underutilizing vision beneﬁts
As a result of costs and coverage limits employees have with traditional vision plans, just 14% of the workforce uses its vision benefits to obtain glasses and 10% for contacts each year. Even worse, only 35% of employees take advantage of their eye exam coverage per year, even though exams are proven to help prevent growing and costly epidemics like eye strain.
4. Digital eye strain is a productivity killer
As we just mentioned, research shows that increased screen time and fewer breaks are a detriment to employee productivity because of eye problems that form as a result. A jarring 79% of employees report that time spent on their devices is impacting their job performance due to headaches, fatigue and focus issues. This is accord-ing to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Headaches alone result in $17 billion in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical costs for business per year.
5. The productivity loss with uncorrected vision problems is huge…like billions huge
If you’re just “checking the box” and offering status quo vision benefits, it’s more than likely your people aren’t maximizing your coverage. It’s been estimated that the cost of uncorrected vision problems is $244 billion. Even though you may be offering premium family plans, it’s more than likely your people don’t know how to maximize their benefits, or simply aren’t satisfied with the breadth of these plan offerings since they can only choose one pair of glasses or contact lenses per year.
6. High-quality vision care actually saves your company money
It is estimated that early detection of eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, saves companies $7 for every $1 invested, according to a special report by Workforce.com. This could mean saving $8 billion from lost productivity.
While employee benefit packages traditionally focus on healthcare packages, there is growing employee demand for more comprehensive vision care, as benefitspro.com explored. As digital eye strain and other issues related to increased screen time are on the rise, employers need robust vision benefits plans that all employees can leverage to stay healthy and productive.
ANTONIO MORAES is the CEO and co-founder of XP Health, a benefits technology company in the vision space. As an international author, speaker, investor and serial entrepreneur, Moraes previously co-founded Vox Capital, a healthcare innovation fund that became a Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School case study. Moraes is the co-author of the movie, “A New Capitalism,” available in 190 countries on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and iTunes, and of several articles and publications about healthcare, benefits and innovation.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.