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Tips from a vision benefits pro: The value of packaging non-medical lines

Recently, I wrote about the importance of packaging medical and non-medical plans, and how integrating plans can positively impact your highest medical cost drivers. This month, I’ll focus on the benefits of packaging non-medical lines like pharmacy, dental, vision, life, disability and supplemental health plans.

Did you know that all 25 of the top 25 most-prescribed drugs have an oral or vision impact? 1 Every last one. So connecting pharmacy, dental and vision plans is critical. Having these plans integrated means that all care providers – pharmacists, dentists, eye doctors and medical doctors – can securely view a patient’s health history in a HIPAA compliant manner for prescriptions relevant to their scope of care. For example, an eye doctor could view the patient’s pharmacy records to find out whether an eye issue is being caused by one or more prescribed medications. Having access to all of a patient’s health data – not just what the patient remembers to share, or what they deem relevant or important – gives valuable insights providers can use to better inform their care decisions. More information means better care, and better care means better health.

Non-medical lines are important for maintaining overall health. In the case of vision benefits, a simple vision exam can detect diabetes in its earliest stages, and can detect cardiovascular issues before they cause more noticeable symptoms. And 90% of diseases first show signs and symptoms in the mouth, which can be identified during a simple dental checkup.2 Routine vision and dental care lead to earlier detection and treatment of disease, which drives down overall health care costs.

The convenience of having these benefits bundled drives up enrollment. A 2018 Transitions Optical survey found that 9 out of 10 employees who were not already enrolled in a vision benefits plan said they’d be more likely to enroll if the benefits were provided by their medical carriers.3 Bundling all benefits also simplifies enrollment and billing for the employer and has a measurable effect on overall employee job satisfaction – in addition to improving coordination of care.

Speaking of job satisfaction, each added specialty benefit increases employee job satisfaction by 5 percent.4 And a happier and healthier workforce is a more productive and more cost-effective workforce.5

An integrated health care model gives physicians, dentists, optometrists, and care managers access to real-time patient information. If you have questions about how integrating your specialty benefits could affect your overall costs, don’t hesitate to reach out at specialtybenefits.info/talk.

1 Anthem analysis of top utilized drugs and the side effects as described in Lippincott Drug Guide for Nurses, 2018.
2 Academy of General Dentistry Know Your Teeth website: Warning Signs in the Mouth Can Save Lives. (Rev. January 2012)
3 2018 Transitions Optical Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits
4 Employee Perceptions on Pharmacy & Specialty Benefits, Anthem, September 2018.
5 Happiness and Productivity. Social Market Foundation, 2015.

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.