When it comes to vision benefits, giving members easy access to eye care experiences aligned with their lifestyles, schedules and budgets are keys to increasing enrollment, driving utilization and improving member satisfaction. And, when you get right down to it, if your employer clients are not enrolling more people, increasing utilization and making members happy, are they getting the most that a vision plan has to offer?

Make sure your client's vision RFP zeroes in on what distinguishes a great product from a commodity by addressing certain topics that are unique to vision:

1.       Determine if the networks offer something for everyone across a range of price points

Everyone asks about the size of the network across the nation and in key regions. Every employer wants members to have access to in-network providers near where they live. Most benefit buyers understand that it’s key to have a mix of independents and retail. Only the stand-out vision networks offer a range of customer experiences across a range of budgets when it comes to shopping for eyewear.

Havens & Company, a brokerage and consulting firm based in Cincinnati that handles multiple vision RFPs each year, concurs that too many vision RFPs neglect to include questions they use to pinpoint the best fit of networks for their Fortune 1,000 clients.

“Independent providers operate high-end boutiques, long-standing neighborhood practices and everything in between,” said Terry Havens. “National and regional retail chains have built their reputations on catering to specific parts of the market, including the fashion conscious, the member seeking the latest in vision technology and innovation, the head of household looking for a family-friendly experience and the economy shopper. A best-in-class vision network has something for everyone.”

Suggested RFP question:

The company’s potential vision membership covers a range of needs and preferences. Describe the network access for members who value the following experiences: the latest technology; a wide selection of designer frames; a family-friendly experience spending less for what they need. Indicate the number of providers who clearly target members seeking these experiences.

2.       Understand how plans make vision benefits easier to use

The leaders in vision offer online locators that invite members to search for a network doctor and eyewear shopping experience, quickly filtering by what matters most to that member, whether its location, office hours or product selection.

Members also appreciate a call center open seven days a week from morning to evening. Over the summer, EyeMed introduced a mobile App for members. It puts the member’s benefit eligibility information, ID card and other most-referenced details at their fingertips whenever they want it.

Suggested RFP question:

Describe the tools and resources available to vision members to ensure their benefits are easy to understand, that it’s easy to locate the network provider who offers what members value most, and that they can access information by phone or through other convenient mediums.

3.       Make sure vision plans are designed to be member-friendly

Some vision benefits are designed to sell, but discourage member utilization by limiting choice in doctors, operating hours or frames. Large, diverse networks are keys to driving in-network use of benefits. Some vision benefits are just complicated, making it hard for members to understand how their out-of-pocket expenses are calculated. Quality vision benefits encourage member utilization with vision health education, no co-pay eye exams, a robust network and the freedom to select frames and lenses that fit a member’s vision needs, budget and sense of style.

“Utilization is not only important to member satisfaction and re-enrollment in the vision plan, it is critical to employer value too,” according to Havens. “If even one person in the client’s workforce, thanks to an eye exam, is diagnosed early with a serious eye health issue, like macular degeneration, or a serious health condition like diabetes, the long-term medical savings may be greater than the total cost of the group’s vision premium for one year.”

Suggested RFP questions:

  • What is your current in-network utilization rate?
  • Over the last three years, what percentage of members received an annual eye exam?
  • What features or activities does your company offer to encourage utilization?

On your next vision RFP, make sure you’re asking questions like these upfront on enrollment, ease of use and plan utilization. The end result you get will depend on it.
Kevin Hilst is senior vice president of sales for EyeMed Vision Care. He can be contacted at eyemedmarketing@eyemed.com.

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