Don't be fooled by these vision benefit myths

image of this article's author, Chad Prittie
Chad Prittie
Regional Vice President

April Fool’s Day is usually reserved for pranks, trickery and hoaxes. Don’t get us wrong, we love to have a little good, clean fun too, but not when it comes to our vision benefits.

Of the estimated 61 million U.S. adults at high risk for vision loss, only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months. [1] That’s not something to mess with, so we’re going for the reverse this April Fool’s Day and dispelling a few vision benefit myths. After all, vision benefits have changed, and outdated beliefs could be standing in the way of employees seeing better, living healthier lives and taking the best possible care of their dependents.

Myth: What works for medical and dental networks also works for vision.

Truth: Nope. These benefits are entirely different. Medical networks are trending toward narrow and restrictive options, but not vision networks. For vision, it works best for members when networks offer a broad mix of independent and retail providers. Also important is whether members can use their benefits to shop for their prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses online, as well as in a physical store.

Myth: You can’t offer out-of-pocket savings AND freedom of choice.

Truth: Sure you can. EyeMed members can select the frames they want, get the lenses recommended by their eye doctor and still save. In fact, our members save an average of 71% off retail[2] without being confined to restrictive lens formularies or a small selection of labs their providers can use, proving that choice and savings isn’t an either/or proposition. Savings with choice is no joke when giving members what they want in their vision benefits.

Myth: Cost is the most important factor when evaluating vision benefit companies.

Truth. Cost is definitely important, but it should only be one factor in the overall value equation and decision. Vision benefit companies can cut benefits or limit choices to lower costs, so it’s vital to look at the whole picture.

One consideration for evaluating a managed vision care plan is to look at the total value for relatively the same cost. Vision is a low cost benefit compared to medical or dental. So consider how you maximize your investment. Look at the total value and evaluate the network, products, extra discounts and end-to-end member experience to get an accurate comparison. And, consider what different demographics of employees may expect from each of the above.

Myth: There’s no reason to change if there isn’t much noise

Truth: Even if you’re not being pushed to think of change, that doesn’t mean all employees are happy with the status quo. Different demographics of employees have different expectations. Whereas baby boomers or Gen X employees may have 1 set of needs, Millennials and Gen Z employees may expect greater choice of retail and online options in-network, as an example.

It’s also a good idea to challenge old assumptions and take a look at how a richer vision benefits package with higher materials allowances and few limitations can do more for employees and employers. We’re seeing numerous clients increasing allowances and/or switching to a richer 12-month frequency (compared to 24-month frequency). As it’s becoming more difficult to enhance other benefits such as healthcare, due to rising costs, vision is one benefit where it is economical to improve the benefit.

Don’t let the joke be on you

In a 2017 SHRM survey, 88% of employers said they’re now offering vision, significantly up from the 82% reported 5 years ago[3]. Not only are vision benefits growing in popularity, but the right vision benefits may be a valuable tool for employers to recruit and retain top talent.

I believe employers and benefit brokers are way too savvy to fall for something less than today’s truth: vision benefits have changed. Do you know what’s offered today to provide the best vision benefits for employees?

We’ve learned a lot from our 50 million members about what works. Plus, more than 3,000 groups moved their vision business to EyeMed last year. Why? Because they weren’t fooled by outdated beliefs and saw the real value in EyeMed.



[1] Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health, 2016

[2] Based on weighted average of sample transactions; EyeMed Insight network/$10 exam co-pay/$10 materials co-pay/$120 frame or contact lens allowance.

[3] Source: 2017 Employee Benefits: Remaining Competitive in a Challenging Talent Marketplace, SHRM, 2017