Tips from a vision benefits pro: Picking the right plan design

If you read my previous blog post, you know the value of offering a vision plan to your employees – it helps win the war for talent and can improve the health and productivity of your workforce.

Once you have your vision plan, annual reviews of your plan design will help you maximize its value. Your plan is more valuable to you and to your population if it is meeting their needs.

So here’s my next tip:

Tip 2: Picking the right vision plan

Here’s a quick checklist of considerations for when you’re purchasing or renewing your vison plan.

  • Budget. Determine your budget for the upcoming year. Vision plans offer a lot of flexibility for employers in terms of funding arrangements. Even minor tweaks to your plan’s copays and allowances can save premium dollars and help you stay on budget.
  • Past performance. If you already offer vison, your carrier should be able to provide reporting that shows how your employees used their plan: What percentage got their annual eye exam? How many used their eyeglasses or contacts benefit? What was the average out-of-pocket cost? Which providers are most popular? The past year’s data holds a wealth of information about how to ensure you’re getting the best value from your plan.
  • Network access. You need a network that covers your population wherever they are. If you have a mix of employees in all life stages, this can be accomplished by picking a plan that offers a mix of independent local practitioners, retail chains with evening and weekend hours, and online retailers like 1-800-CONTACTS, ContactsDirect.com, Glasses.com for those who prefer to shop online. And don’t forget international coverage. Whether employees are traveling for work or pleasure, make sure they have coverage outside the U.S.
  • Demographics. Your plan should be tailored to your population. If you have a mix of employees at every life stage, a full-service plan that covers both exams and materials is best. People over 40 are likely to need some sort of vision correction, whether it’s contacts or glasses. And older workers are more likely to need progressive lenses, or bifocals, which can be costly without insurance. Your industry is an important consideration as well. If you’re in manufacturing and subject to OSHA eyewear requirements, make sure your vision plan includes coverage for safety glasses.

Finally, of course, do your due diligence. Make sure your vision insurance partner has the portfolio, network and service capabilities to meet your population’s expectations.

For more information, reach out to your broker, benefits consultant or insurance plan carrier.

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.