Topic:

Is Vision Insurance Worth It?

December 4, 2023
Is Vision Insurance Worth It?

When employers are deciding how to invest in their company's benefits packages, they inevitably ask "Is vision insurance worth it?" Sure, employees like all types of benefit offerings. But, is the overall benefit worth the cost of vision insurance plans?

This article explores what employers should consider as they assess vision insurance for their employees.

What is vision insurance and how does offering it work for employers?

Vision insurance covers testing and aids that maintain and improve our vision. It contrasts with health insurance, which may cover diagnosis and treatment of eye injuries and diseases.

Employers that want to offer vision coverage to their employees can choose from two main options.

Vision insurance. Functioning like health insurance, vision insurance typically has an employee-paid monthly premium, copay and deductible. Vision insurance plans may also set limits on eyecare product costs like contact lenses and glasses.

A vision discount plan. Not insurance per se, vision discount plans cover a percentage of an employee's eye exams and prescription glasses or lenses.

Once an employer weighs the vision insurance plans and decides which one to offer, they should:

  • Talk with plan providers and compare offerings and costs.
  • Decide how much of the vision insurance cost they will pay and how much their employees will pay.
  • Offer it to employees (the HR department typically handles this step) and get them signed up.

What do vision policies usually cover?

Although coverage can vary based on the insurance company, most vision insurance plans pay for:

  • An annual eye exam.
  • Eyeglass frames.
  • Contact lenses.
  • Tests and care for eye diseases.

Vision insurance covers routine examinations by an eye doctor and discounts for purchasing corrective glasses or contacts. Some policies also contribute dollars towards laser corrective surgery and other procedures.

What are the benefits of offering vision insurance to employees?

Offering some form of health insurance is, more or less, a must these days, especially since the Affordable Care Act mandated that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide it or pay a penalty fee.

The law doesn’t extend to adult vision insurance, so it is up to individual companies whether they offer an employer-sponsored vision care plan. Why would you spend money on a non-essential cost? Simple. A vision insurance plan offers numerous benefits to the company’s reputation and its bottom line.

Reputation-enhancing benefits

For employees, employer-funded vision coverage defrays some of the potentially high costs of routine eye care. Offering employees these benefits sends a message that you care about their health and well-being. This perk differentiates your organization from run-of-the-mill companies that do not invest in eye health, which can boost recruiting efforts.

Impact on the bottom line

Vision problems are among the most costly health issues in the United States. Fortunately, with routine eye exams that take family history into account, many issues can be detected early, making treatment more effective. Accessing a vision plan, instead of paying out-of-pocket costs, makes employees more likely to participate in preventative care and stay on top of vision issues.

Companies that provide vision insurance can enjoy a high return on investment (ROI) from the dollars they spend. Catching vision issues early means fewer doctor visits and, in some cases, not as many required medications. Providing vision insurance helps employees by keeping costs down over the long run.

Potential tax benefits

Depending on the size of your business, employers may be able to deduct 100% of the money paid toward the vision insurance plan from their taxes.

Build a more productive workforce

A comprehensive eye exam detects more than hazy vision. Eye doctors can spot the early signs of systemic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure before the patient even suspects a problem. Early detection means early intervention, which reduces medical costs and absenteeism in the long run.

There’s also plenty of evidence to suggest that even minor vision problems can reduce productivity by up to 20%. This is mainly due to workers with impaired vision needing additional time to complete their work. Correcting these problems with a routine eye exam and prescription eyewear should boost their productivity and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Contribute to employee well-being

Employees who feel (and see) well are happier, more motivated, and generally more productive. As mentioned above, many vision issues, when caught early, can be managed or cured. Companies with a positive company culture can proactively pave the way for employees to address vision issues without financial strain.

What percentage of companies offer vision insurance?

While a health insurance plan is available to 67% of private industry workers, vision coverage is only available to 17% of them. (As a reference, dental insurance is available to 42%).

Employers may not jump on offering vision coverage because vision care is not perceived as essential. Many employers do not see the value in offering ancillary vision insurance and do not link healthy vision and productivity. This lack of awareness means that the majority of employers never even discuss vision benefits with employees.

Helpful links

All About Vision: What is Vision Insurance? – This resource gives an overview of how vision insurance works and how it can help employees.

National Eye Institute

American Optometric Association

Deciding about vision insurance for your employees? Let TriNet help

Adding vision insurance coverage to your benefits package could make a big difference in your employees’ lives. With the help of TriNet, even a small business can gain access to big-league benefits. In addition, our experts can help you weigh the choices for vision insurance and find the best options for your company.

To see if TriNet, a certified professional employer organization, is right for you, take our free online assessment.

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