HR ADVISOR


What are the benefits of my company offering vision insurance to employees?

Offering some form of health insurance is, more or less, a must these days, especially since the Affordable Care Act mandated that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide it or pay a penalty fee.

The law doesn't extend to adult vision insurance, so it is up to individual companies whether they offer an employer-sponsored vision care plan. Why would you spend money on a non-essential cost? Simple. Vision insurance offers numerous benefits to the company's reputation and its bottom line.

Reputation-enhancing benefits

Vision insurance policies typically cover routine eye examinations and discounts for the purchase of corrective eyewear. Some policies also contribute dollars towards laser corrective surgery and other procedures.

For employees, an employer-funded plan defrays some of the (potentially) high costs of routine eye care. Offering employees these benefits--especially if they are at risk of digital eye strain through long hours in front of a computer screen--sends a message that you care about their health and well-being. Offering this extra perk differentiates your organization from run-of-the-mill companies that do not invest in health, and it boosts staff recruitment and retention.

Impact on the bottom line

A recent study conducted by the HCMS Group found that employers offering stand-alone vision benefits saved $5.8 billion over four years. These cost savings were due entirely to the preventative nature of vision work. The study found that by carrying out regular, non-invasive eye exams, optometrists identified early signs of chronic diseases that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The bottom line is astonishing:

  • 34 percent of new diabetes cases were first identified through a routine eye exam, saving $28,111 per 1,000 employees over four years.
  • 39 percent of new high blood cases were first identified through a routine eye exam, saving $34,617 per 1,000 employees over four years.
  • 63 percent of new high cholesterol cases were identified through a routine eye exam, saving $33,728 per 1,000 employees over four years.

In total, the study found that for every dollar a company invests in vision benefits, it receives $1.45 through lower healthcare costs, improved productivity and lower turnover rates.

The idea is that the eyes are the windows to good health. The annual eye exam is a touch point for medical staff to assess the worker's overall health and pick up on conditions that, left unattended, may become (significantly) more expensive to control. Early detection keeps employees at their desks. It also keeps your health care premiums low--by any other name, that's a sound investment.

Drew Bowker
HR Advisor
Posted on Jan. 9, 2017, 12:30 p.m.
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