Seeing Sense: Why Employers Should Integrate Vision Benefits

As an employer, you make hundreds of decisions every day—big and small. What you choose in each of these scenarios affects you, your business and the people who work for you. In this way, you’re a caretaker, and while you must balance making the best choice for the health of your business, you also have to decide how best to ensure the health of your workforce.

Your Health Insurance Premium and Plan Type Are Important Decisions Read article

Choosing the right health benefits plan is one of the most important—if not the most important—decisions you will make for your employees. There are many benefit types to choose from beyond basic medical care and coverage. With this in mind, and with more than ten years of experience in the health benefits field, I urge you: don’t neglect vision benefits.

Offering vision is mutually beneficial to you and your employees. They receive access to quality vision care and you have healthier, happier employees. In fact, according to a recent survey by Transitions Optical, 98 percent of employees believe that offering vision coverage as part of an overall health package shows their employer cares for their wellbeing.

The best way to offer vision benefits is through an integrated health care plan. Integrated health care is relatively simple: it connects an employee’s medical and ancillary benefits—like vision and dental care—through his or her insurance provider. The three most compelling reasons to offer integrated vision benefits are that it 1) improves health outcomes of employees, 2) simplifies administration, and 3) lowers overall medical costs.

Better health through early detection

When an employee has access to integrated vision care, they are usually covered for an annual eye exam. These regular vision checkups are critical to maintaining vision health and overall wellbeing. Even more than that, vision exams are critical in the early detection of eye disease arising and certain common health conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. If detected early, then appropriate management can minimize further damage even while symptoms remain invisible to the naked eye. In fact, in 2016, one health plan identified 26,000 patients with diabetes through vision exams. This is especially important because the early detection of chronic conditions is crucial to care and disease management.

Through an integrated plan, a person’s health care data flows securely between that person’s health care providers. This means if a patient uses their benefits to get an eye exam, and the exam reveals they have signs of a chronic condition, that information will be available to their other health care providers, who can collaborate to form the best care team and treatment plan.

Simplified administration through benefits integration

Integrating secondary benefits like vision care with an employer’s primary health benefit has the added benefit of not only improving health outcomes, as seen above, but also of simplifying the administration of these benefits. When vision and health benefits are administered together – typically through an insurance carrier – the employer saves time with one enrollment process, one bill and one contact. And benefits management for employees is simplified with one ID card, one online services and more.

Lower costs through disease management

The early detection of some diseases through vision exams sets the scene for a third major benefit of offering and integrating vision benefits into your employees’ health plans. Chronic conditions are incredibly costly and early detection is critical to help manage those costs. For example, if a diabetic’s eye disease is caught early, there can be a delay or prevention of further damage and an opportunity for a disease management plan to deter further decline. The progressive forms of many chronic diseases drive huge health care costs, so if conditions can be caught early, quality of life for the patient improves and costs are reduced. Through integrated vision benefits, employees have a chance at maintaining and improving their health, while reducing their exposure to potentially increasing health care costs.

Early detection cuts costs for employers as well. The healthier and better cared for a workforce is, the lower the cost to the business.

It’s clear to see: offering integrated vision benefits to your employees produces a huge return for only a small investment. They have comprehensive, effective health care and you have a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.

For more information on integration of benefits, visit

John Thorp is the president of Anthem, Inc.’s Vision business. Since joining Anthem in 2006, he has served in a number of key roles, including Product Director and Senior Product Director for the company.

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