Q: What is Managed Vision Care?
A: Managed Vision Care is a system of providing you and your family members (the beneficiaries) with a prefunded health care benefit that is designed to meet your eye care needs. Just like managed medical care, this system provides preventive care, in order to help detect any eye health problems at the earliest stage, while at the same time controlling the cost of this benefit and assuring its quality, both for the plan beneficiaries and the payor (typically, the employer or group).
Q: What are the benefits of offering a managed vision care plan?
A: There are many benefits of having a managed vision care plan, including meeting the needs of employees (50% of the entire population currently require corrective lenses, as do 80% of those over the age of 45) and helping to assure their general health with convenient access to services, generally through a network of credentialed providers. The benefits also include:
- In many cases a readily accessible, pre-established network of providers equipped to serve members and their families.
- Provision of routine vision care provides for the immediate vision needs of members, which may pro-actively detect disease processes that affect an individual’s sight or other systems, possibly even before symptoms become evident.
- Vision care is a benefit almost everyone wants to have, that everyone needs, and is easy to enjoy: as a well-care benefit, you can use it without first having to be sick!
- Vision care plans maintain policies for standards of quality for both their own operations and their providers, and constantly strive to improve services.
- Those in the workplace (for example, at a computer workstation or on a construction worksite) can benefit from specialty services such as Visual Display Terminal (VDT) eyewear or safety eyewear, both of which are covered by many vision plans.
- Children often only receive vision evaluations in school. If their parents have vision benefits, children can receive the regular comprehensive eye examinations that they require.
Q: What should a company look for when selecting a vision plan for its employees?
A: Important characteristics of a vision plan include:
- Participating providers are credentialed according to the highest standards
- Maintaining high-quality standards for all operations
- Having a well-established, widely distributed and diverse provider network
Q: Won’t offering a vision plan cost the company and/or its employees a lot of money?
A: A managed vision care plan will save money for the employer and its employees (or the union or association and its members) compared to what vision care would cost without a plan. The cost of eyewear alone (frames and lenses) averages nearly $263 nationally. Factor in a comprehensive eye examination costing $50 to $100, and the average complete eye care benefit can easily reach $350 to $400 and more. For a typical family of four, this can be a very expensive necessity. As employers work to manage health care benefits for optimal outcomes, they continuously seek plans to further enhance the value of the benefits package. Healthcare purchasers realize that a vision care program can be provided for a minimal expenditure (.5% to 1.5% of the typical healthcare dollar). Furthermore, employees who utilize their vision care benefits will have the proper eye care, and eyewear if necessary, thereby eliminating eye strain and its related discomforts, creating medical cost savings for the individual and savings of lost time and productivity for the employer.
Q: How can a managed vision care program help an employer meet OSHA Compliance standards?
A: Thousands of eye accidents happen each day, but 90% of these are preventable with the use of appropriate safety eyewear. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) mandates eye protection in work environments with a significant probability of eye injury. Suitable eye protection can reduce tragic and expensive eye injuries. Providing adequate eye protection while correcting vision problems through a properly managed vision program maximizes member safety and productivity in the workplace, while ensuring legal compliance with OSHA requirements.
Q: How would a managed vision care program benefit workers who spend most of their day using a computer?
A: Computers are the most common underlying source of vision complaints in the workplace, which is not surprising since roughly half of all jobs in the U.S. require extended hours of visually intense work at a computer screen. This produces eye fatigue and strain, blurred vision and discomfort, as well as other symptoms, which are collectively known as “Computer Vision Syndrome.” Ninety percent of all workers using computers experience this condition to some extent, and corrective eyewear designed specifically for computer work often relieves many, if not all, of the workers’ symptoms. Special coverage for computer eyeglasses helps sustain and/or increase employee productivity by decreasing employee ailments.
Q: Children receive an eye examination at school – isn’t that good enough?
A: Vision evaluations are offered in schools to detect problems with visual acuity; however, these are only screenings and cannot replace a comprehensive eye examination. These school screenings can detect vision problems in only 20% to 30% of children, and do not expose problems such as eye muscle coordination, eye disease, peripheral vision or shortcomings in near/distance vision. Considering that in the first 12 years of a child’s life 80% of all learning takes place visually, a visual impairment can significantly handicap a child’s intellectual and emotional growth and thwart social development.
Q: Why has America’s aging population caused a growing need for a managed vision care program?
A: Over 76 million Americans make up our nation’s “Baby Boom” generation, now becoming known as “Elder Boomers.” The Boomers, who are now in their 40s, 50s and early 60s, are experiencing the natural age-related progressive loss of accommodative focusing ability, which is called presbyopia. The overall need for corrective eyewear is therefore quite high, and the average retail prices of the lenses most commonly used to compensate for presbyopia range from $150 to $300; therefore, the cost-effective pricing of a managed vision care program is particularly beneficial for this population.
Q: Do people have a choice of eyewear under such a plan?
A: Eyewear today is a popular fashion item that allows the wearer to make an individual fashion statement, while enjoying the functionality of clearer vision. Eyeglass frames, many with "designer" names, are manufactured using a wide array of materials including plastics, metals and composites. Eyewear lenses are available that feature exciting and healthful options, including transitioning from clear to dark, depending on the lighting conditions; filtering out ultraviolet rays; and/or providing enhanced eye safety with highly impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses. The ever-progressing contact lens market also offers a wide variety of new contacts with many comfort features and even more colors.