Controlling Costs: Vision Health

David Rodeck

Controlling Costs: Vision Health

Regular visits to the eye doctor are important for your employees, especially those who use glasses or contact lenses. But the cost of vision care can add up, even with insurance. With a little planning, though, your employees can receive low-cost vision care while still getting the quality treatment they need. Here’s how to advise them.

Avoid Unnecessary Treatments

When your employees visit the eye doctor, they should make sure they only receive treatments that are medically necessary. Eye doctors sometimes add extra tests, and these increase the bill. For example, they may perform both a pupil dilation and take retinal photos, when most patients only need pupil dilation.

Your employees should ask exactly what is being included in their checkup and, if the doctor suggests any additional tests, confirm that they’re actually needed. Encourage them to verify coverage with their insurance company before giving the go-ahead for any tests or procedures.

Ask for Discounts

Before employees book an eye exam, they should ask the doctor if any discounts are available. Discounts are sometimes available for members of organizations like AAA or AARP. Just like with other medical bills, employees may have room to haggle. Optometry offices could be willing to negotiate if they know that cost is an issue. Your employees have nothing to lose by asking.

Shop Online

When your employees need to buy new glasses or contacts, encourage them to consider shop around. Eye doctors typically charge more than online retailers for prescriptions. Your employees can take their prescription and fill the order themselves through their retailer of choice. However, employees should only consider this option if they are confident about their prescription.

Use Contact Prescriptions Twice

The prescription for contact lenses typically lasts for a full year. If your employee holds on to their prescription, they can fill an order for two years of lenses: once right after they had the eye exam and again right before the prescription expires. If their vision hasn’t changed, after all, they would end up with the same prescription anyway. This way, employees can avoid a costly visit to the eye doctor. Make sure employees know to monitor for changes in their vision, as eyesight conditions do change over time and wearing the wrong prescription can cause problems.

Reuse Frames

If an employee wears glasses and needs to change their prescription, recommend that they consider reusing the old frames. The vendor can simply replace the old lenses with the new prescription. This can lower the price of the glasses by half.

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Take Advantage of an HSA or FSA

If you offer a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) as a workplace benefit, remind employees that they can use these accounts to fund vision care. They can make pre-tax contributions to the HSA or FSA directly from their paychecks, and can spend their contributions on qualified medical expenses, such as eye doctor fees and filling prescriptions.

When it comes to vision benefits and spending on vision care, don’t let your employees go on autopilot. With a little research on low-cost vision care, your employees may save hundreds throughout the year.

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