For most employers, vision benefits have been a “check the box,” offering for more than 50 years because there has been little to no innovation in that area. Employees typically choose between two fairly standard plans, with limited coverage, and might never take advantage of them at all, despite that you’re paying between $5-$25 per month to offer the coverage.
As a result, a small fraction of the workforce uses its vision benefits to obtain glasses or contacts each year. What’s worse, employees looking to leverage benefits for preventive but elective eyewear can’t even use their benefits at all since those elective eyewear choices aren’t covered by traditional plans.
Instead of opting for the status quo and “checking the box” with benefit plan offerings and failing to see a real return on investment, here are seven reasons why offering better vision benefits will help boost employee usage, lower benefits costs for employers and workers, and retain the best employees.
1. Employees want better vision benefits.
A recent study 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 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 for one pair of glasses each per year exceeds $400 at what is considered a 3,000% markup, even after using traditional vision benefits.
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 using their vision plans each year.
3. Employees are drastically underusing their vision benefits.
As a result of costs and coverage limits employees have with traditional vision plans, only 14% of the workforce uses its vision benefits to obtain glasses and 10% uses its benefits for contact lenses each year. Even worse, only 25% of employees take advantage of free yearly eye exams, which are proven to help prevent conditions such as eye strain.
4. Most employees can’t take advantage of their workplace vision plan.
As Americans have recently shifted to working at home and spending more time in front of their screens, blue light's health implications are growing; studies have negatively linked it to everything from headaches to sleep trouble. Most employees who don't need glasses but want to mitigate eye strain and the effects of blue light must pay out-of-pocket for elective anti-glare glasses since traditional vision insurance plans don't cover these.
5. Digital eye strain is a productivity killer.
As we just mentioned, research shows that enhanced 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. Headaches alone result in $17 billion in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical costs for business per year.
6. The cost of underused vision benefits to employers is huge.
If employers are simply “checking the box” and offering status quo vision benefits, it’s more than likely their workers aren’t maximizing their coverage. It is estimated that the cost of underused vision benefits to U.S. employers is more than $15 billion. Even though an employer may offer premium family plans, it is likely their workers 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.
7. Boosting a vision plan actually saves an employer money.
By supplementing a traditional vision benefit with a low-cost booster that increases employee access to frames, contact lenses, virtual preventive exams, elective glasses and other benefits, an employer can gain $7 for every $1 invested and save more than $2,700 annually per employee.
Although employee benefit packages traditionally focus on health care packages, there is growing employee demand for more comprehensive vision care. As digital eye strain and other issues related to increased screen time are on the rise, employers need robust vision benefits plans that all workers can leverage to stay healthy and productive.
Antonio Moraes is CEO and cofounder of XP Health. He may be contacted at [email protected].
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