Tips from a Vision Benefits Pro: 2020 Vision Benefits Outlook

With 90% of employers offering vision coverage1, it is increasingly considered a “must have” benefit2 — even if it’s employee-paid. In fact, vision enrollment has increased across all population groups as digital eyestrain has become more common. One in four millennials say they have accepted a new job for more competitive benefits, where vision was the most appealing element of the package3. Among the over 40 population, more than 69% wear prescription glasses4, more than 24 million have cataracts and 2.2 million have glaucoma5. This group also tends to have disposable income to pay for the coverage.

Integration of vision benefits

With eye doctors being a critical first line of defense in the early detection of chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, it is not surprising that vision benefits are highly integrated. Nearly 70% of employers actively integrate vision coverages and another 30% are considering it6. Among these employers, 89% agree that collaboration between doctors and vision providers is vital6 in order to impact high cost medical conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes as well as to boost productivity and reduce absenteeism and health care costs overall.

Innovation to improve eye care

The continued innovation in the market, however, is not just about cost. It’s about improving eye care overall. Strategies range from adjusting co-pays to incentivize exams, increasing covered allowances, offering discounts on lenses or corrective surgery, expanding payment for lens coatings, and covering safety eyewear. Employers are also embracing evidence-based eye care such as retinal imaging for diabetics. And progressive wellness programs include education about eye care and vision benefits, and even offer monetary rewards for employees who have regular vision exams.

Tech: Better access to information

Technology is also coming into play for vision, and in a variety of ways. Online enrollment, portals and mobile apps that include comprehensive access to vision plan information are vital to employee education and engagement.

Download the Pharmacy and Ancillary Benefits Outlook Report for guidance on navigating the changing benefits landscape as we head into the next decade of employee benefits. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out at specialtybenefits.info/talk.

1 The Evolution of Benefits, Society for Human Resources (SHRM), 2018.
2 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study, 2019.
3 Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits Survey, Transitions Optical, Inc. 2016.
4 Vision Insurance in the US, IBISWorld Industry Report, 2017.
5 “Your Sight Matters”, Comprehensive Eye Exams Can Help Identify Chronic Conditions, 2018.
6 Integrated Health Care Report: Edition 3, Anthem, 2018.

John Thorp is Staff Vice President of Vision Services at Anthem, Inc., and is a past board member of the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP). He is committed to improving the lives of the people Anthem serves through the integration of Blue View Vision with Anthem Whole Health Connections.