Sr. Director, EyeMed Head of Marketing
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Size isn’t the only thing to see when evaluating vision
There’s a story about a revered acacia tree in Nigeria called the Lonely Tree of Ténéré, surrounded by the endless Sahara Desert. For hundreds of miles all around—there was just a vast expanse of land and sand--with no other tree or living thing in sight. The Lonely Tree is no longer there. In 1973, it was knocked down by a drunk driver.
The phrase “size isn’t everything” is well overplayed; I hesitate to even use it here. But there’s some truth in it. The bigness of almost anything doesn’t matter as much as how well it works. This goes for a desert’s ability to protect a beloved landmark, or a vision network’s ability to protect its members’ eyesight.
I’m not saying network size isn’t important (after all EyeMed has the largest vision network with the right mix of providers), but it might be tempting to evaluate vision networks by only size and cost. For vision networks, if you offer plenty of choice of in-network independent and retail providers, as well as online in-network options, there should be little-to-no reason to visit an out-of-network provider. By incorporating choice and in-network usage into your evaluation, you’re looking at vision with a wider lens…and this lens can save your employees unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses.
Helping you find a new and better angle
What we’ve learned from thousands of client and leading broker agency interactions is, if you’re comparing vision benefits using the same lens as medical or dental benefits, you may not be getting the perspective you need. You’re not alone in wanting the best experience for employees and the best value for the cost—you might just need to see it from a better angle.
You also want to think about different components of the benefit, the member experience and the network. I’ll focus here on the network component—and 3 of the questions you could be asking about each vision network you’re evaluating:
1. Is the network being used?
Seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many members go outside of some vision networks. What it really says is the network doesn’t have the care options members want. In 2000, London opened the Millennium Bridge over the Thames River, with the clever design and sleek extras that any bridge lover could ask for. But 2 days later, officials shut it down for a $7 million re-engineering. It turns out the bridge swayed so much that people were afraid of being pitched overboard. (That’s right: a London bridge felt like it was falling down.) As majestic as it was, people didn’t want to use it. What good is a vast vision network if it’s not being used? (By the way 98% of EyeMed members use in-network providers.)
2. Will members find a good mix in the network?
As in, does the network have plenty of choice of retail providers plus a significant number of independent eye doctors? In medical and dental, even a small amount of disruption might create employee issues. The challenge with vision is, depending on the vision benefit company, a bit of disruption might just be what employees would prefer because they want a choice of retail options and independent providers. It’s important to have options for members who are more budget-conscious, fashion-forward, tech lovers or online shoppers.
No 2 sets of eyes are exactly the same; in fact, they’re more distinct than fingerprints. The eyes that belong to these members demand a variety of providers to choose from. When you think medical or dental care, you don’t really think about retail. But with vision networks, retail is half the story. The point is—be sure to compare each company’s mix of independent and retail providers.
3. Are all providers really in-network?
Vision networks can be blurred by something you don’t see in medical and dental plans--out-of-network providers positioned as in-network. It’s a clever way to suggest non-network providers or optical retail stores who submit out-of-network claims for members as an in-network solution. So, it may sound like they’re in-network, when in fact, they’re not. Much the same as the green heron that drops objects into the water to attract curious and tasty fish--these appearances may seem harmless. But when it’s time to pay your bill and benefits don't match your in-network benefit summary, then it may matter a lot.
Making your job easier
Evaluating vision benefits gets a lot easier when you know what to look for. This post is just a quick glance at a few of the things we can help you uncover when you go beyond the common cost comparisons.
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CATEGORY: HR Benefits
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