We saw this report about vision benefits underutilized by the U.S. workforce from a Transitions Optical press release and would like to share highlights from it as we think there is an opportunity and a responsibility for all of us in the eyecare industry to help improve the optical consumers’ utilization of vision benefits. I know from my own anecdotal experience that people in general do not prioritize their eyecare health in the same way as their more general health.
The report pretty much confirms that people do not feel the need to visit an eyecare professional until they start experiencing problems. There is very little awareness from the general public that they should get their eyes examined before they start experiencing problems.
Although there have been many industry based efforts to educate the consumer, e.g. The Vision Council’s “Check Yearly, See Clearly” campaign which was very successful. The Vision Council also supplies consumer eduction materials and endorses “Think About Your Eyes”. Employee education materials about the value of vision care and vision wear through a vision benefit are available free of charge through the Transitions Healthy Sight Working for You program. But these messages have to be continually reinforced by the communications from all sides of the industry, especially optical retailers. With the growth of social media, there is more opportunity to include this aspect on Facebook, Google+, websites etc.
Here are some selected highlights from: The annual Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits survey conducted by Transitions Optical, Inc.
The survey was conducted online by Synovate (Ipsos) in October 2011, among 2,011 full-time, adult U.S. employees whose employers offer vision benefits.It reveals that – despite reporting a strong interest in their company vision benefit – today’s aging U.S. workforce isn’t fully taking advantage of it, therefore missing out on a critical preventive care opportunity and leaving themselves at higher risk for age-related vision problems, eye diseases and chronic conditions that impact eye health and compromise productivity.
Baby boomers (ages 45-64) are only slightly more likely than younger employees to enroll in their vision benefit (79 percent vs. 75 percent). Similarly, 34 percent of Baby boomers and 23 percent of those ages 65+ who enroll do not utilize their benefit to receive a comprehensive eye exam.
“A quality vision benefit is important for everyone, but especially for employees ages 45 and older, who are more likely to experience vision problems that hurt job performance. This age group also has a higher risk for developing costly eye diseases and whole body conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, all of which can be detected through comprehensive eye care, and addressed with the right eyewear to correct, enhance and protect vision,” said Pat Huot, director, managed vision care, Transitions Optical. “With ongoing medical cost concerns among employers and employees alike, our survey findings have flagged a serious lost opportunity to help lower potential healthcare expenditures and boost productivity, and for consumers to take greater control of their health outcomes in the future.”
While the survey showed slight improvement over the previous study, “not having vision or eye health problems” remained the most commonly cited reason for not enrolling in a vision plan (32 percent vs. 36 percent in the previous study) – showing a continued lack of understanding of the importance of preventative eye care.
Opportunities to Increase Education on Vision Care, Vision Wear
The research findings suggest that employees – including at-risk, older employees – need further education from their employers on the value of the vision benefit, and identified several missed opportunities to provide this education.
Thirty percent of employees felt that their employers do not take appropriate steps to make sure employees understand their vision benefit.In the latest survey, only 18 percent of employees reported that their employers do not communicate to them about their vision benefit, a small improvement from 25 percent in the 2011 survey. However, nearly 60 percent of employers provide only basic vision plan information during the open enrollment period. Just 13 percent of employees said their employers also include information on the importance of eye health, and only 11 percent do so regularly throughout the year.
These are just some highlights that we thought we would share, the complete report is available on request.