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Are you interested in offering vision insurance to your employees but don’t know how to get started? Read on for vision insurance benefits basics and tips for selecting a good plan for your company.

What Are Vision Insurance Benefits?

Vision insurance benefits are resources to help employees manage the cost of eye care.

Should Companies Offer Vision Insurance Benefits?

Vision insurance can be a cost-effective way to support the needs of your employees. There are varying options for vision insurance; employers may choose not to contribute to the cost of the plans, making it a voluntary, affordable benefit for your employees. There are also discount plans that may be a great alternative to insurance if you are unsure that insurance is the right option for your company.

Pros of Offering Vision Insurance Benefits

  • Preventative care. Most vision insurance plans cover preventative care costs, so individuals don’t have to pay the cost of preventative care for themselves or others on the plan.
  • Reduced costs. Other eye-care costs are significantly reduced, which can help make other vision care needs more manageable for individuals and their families.
  • Promotes wellness. Having insurance to help support the cost of vision care encourages individuals to make their healthcare a priority. It relieves a portion of the burden and makes it easier to give themselves the care they need.
  • Employee benefits package. It’s a contribution to the overall benefits package that you offer to your workforce, and it’s a relatively low-cost option. Employees derive work satisfaction from the benefits that are offered to them. Medical, dental, and vision insurance are significantly tied to employee satisfaction. The more a company can pump up their benefits package, the higher employee satisfaction becomes, which in turn leads to higher productivity and retention.

Cons of Offering Vision Insurance Benefits

  • Recurring costs. Every benefit creates a cost. While there’s no requirement for the employer to contribute to the premium for vision insurance, you may choose to do so, which creates a monthly cost. Should the employer choose not to cover the premium, the employee becomes responsible for it if they choose to enroll.
  • Administrative burden. Someone needs to be responsible for choosing plans, managing employee enrollments, informing and training employees on the plan offerings, coordinating with the carrier and/or broker, collecting premiums from the employees or company, and ensuring that the bill is paid to the carrier each month.
  • Budget trade-offs. Offering vision insurance means you may be spending part of your benefits budget that is now not available for other benefits. In addition to surveying employees to understand what is important to them, it’s important to understand the total cost of vision insurance for your company. Then you choose whether to contribute to the monthly premium. There will be indirect costs as well as direct costs, depending on how you set up the plans, so work with the carriers or brokers (more information below). You can learn more through networking with others that you may know, or through groups like the Society for Human Resource Management. Many large insurance groups like Aetna, Cigna, or United Healthcare also publish market trends and data.

What Does Vision Insurance Cover?

Vision insurance coverage varies based on the plan you choose. Here are a few typical benefits.

Preventative Care

Most insurance companies cover preventative care at 100%, which means there is no direct cost to individuals for things like eye exams or screenings.

Eyeglass Coverage

There are many different options when it comes to eyeglasses or frames. Typically, insurance contributes a certain amount toward eyeglasses or frames, and may or may not cover additions like anti-reflective coating or transition lenses.

Procedures

Some plans provide discounted rates, access to surgeons, or other eye care benefits like LASIK.

How to Find the Right Vision Insurance Benefit For Your Company

If you are interested in offering vision insurance for the first time, there are a few things that you should consider.

Tip 1: Identify Company Needs

Take into account the needs and desires of the organization. What are you hoping to accomplish by offering vision insurance? Do you want a richer benefits package, to encourage employee wellness, etc.?

Tip 2: Consider Workforce Demographics

Consider the needs and makeup of your workforce. You may choose to do a survey to understand their needs, or you may be able to make decisions with data from your HR software. Look at items like age, percentage of employees with families, etc. These items can help you determine what the plan should include.

Tip 3: Do a Company Search

Look for vision plan carriers or find a broker to help you find plans. A couple examples of carriers for vision insurance include VSP or Superior, but there are several others. If you choose to find your own, don’t hesitate to ask around in your network to learn what others use and how they feel about their providers. An internet search can also help you find popular carriers, ratings, and reviews.

Tip 4: Research Different Plans

Research the different plans offered by these carriers and decide how many you are interested in offering. It’s most common to give employees a choice between one or two plans; this keeps the administrative burden relatively low while still offering the benefit. Two plans enable the company to offer a basic and an enhanced plan, so employees can choose which best fits their needs.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Vision Insurance Benefits

This is up to the employer, but it’s typical to offer vision insurance benefits to all employees who are offered medical insurance or other health insurance benefits: typically, employees who are full time or working more than 30 hours per week.
Working with a broker has some advantages over shopping plans yourself. A broker in insurance, just like a broker in any other sense, represents the buyer (you). They may be able to provide you with data or research, shop different carriers and plan types on your behalf, and share market trends and best practices with you. Brokers are paid in a couple different ways, so make sure you understand the structure prior to working with one. To find a broker, an internet search for brokers in your area will usually prove fruitful; ask other companies for referrals; ask at networking events; or, if you are a client of a payroll company or similar service, they may have contacts they can refer you to.
Discount programs are not insurance; think about it more like a coupon you use repetitively. They are usually very low cost to purchase and are more useful for day-to-day costs like lenses or frames and exams.
No. Medical insurance is the only type of healthcare insurance that companies are legally required to offer if they meet the right criteria.

Colleen manages a team of HR consultants that work with a variety of industries, specializing in the fields of human resources, strategic planning, and human capital management. Colleen applies expert knowledge, industry experience, and relentless energy to solving companies’ issues. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management as well as women in leadership groups. She is PHR, SPHR, and SHRM-SCP certified. She has an awesome pet cat, Attila and, when she’s not working she loves to travel, enjoy the great outdoors, and volunteer with different local charities.

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