Advisers shouldn’t lose sight of vision benefits

Too often, vision benefits are an afterthought for advisers and their clients.

These benefits aren’t given proper consideration because the value is not thoroughly understood by plan sponsors. Meanwhile, brokers are pressed for time, and may not have the bandwidth to educate clients on the importance of these offerings.

But brokers who realize how essential vision benefits are can offer additional value to their clients. Advisers should view these benefits as an opportunity to help with business-critical issues their clients are facing.

In a tight labor market hovering at around 3.8%, employers are struggling to increase hiring, employee satisfaction and retention, which recent studies say are directly correlated with employee benefits. By offering a vision benefit that includes a comprehensive annual eye exam, plan sponsors can entice and keep talented staff while simultaneously preventing and detecting eye and other systemic diseases.

Plus, employees value vision benefits. After salary, benefits (medical, dental, vision and life insurance coverage) are the top factor for job candidates, according to a study by the staffing firm Robert Half.

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A customer tries on glasses at a Warby Parker store. Photographer: Michael Buckner/Getty Images 

Ocular health is a key indicator in detecting early stages of eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma, along with non-eye-related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Eye exams can also uncover additional health risks that include thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, brain and neck tumors, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

For example, National Vision Administrators analyzed 1 million ICD-10 diagnosis codes and discovered that a large number represented non-ocular systemic diagnoses. The primary culprits were hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Early detection of chronic disease means early intervention, resulting in better quality of life and lower healthcare costs for members and plan sponsors over time.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Optometric Association, employers gain as much as seven dollars for every dollar they spend on vision coverage. This research also indicates that minor vision problems can reduce employee productivity by up to 20%.

Understanding a client’s business model and industry can fortify the broker-client relationship. Realizing the true value of a vision benefit, and effectively communicating that to a plan sponsor, achieves the same outcome. It’s a strategic recommendation that can fortify the relationship between a broker and their clients.

We cannot afford to under value vision benefits. They are affordable, employees value them greatly and the diagnostic significance is unquestionable.

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