Facing a tough benefits discussion?

Young woman holding glasses and smiling. Text reads "Vision is your silver lining"
image of this article's author, Jesseca Oscar
Jesseca Oscar
Director, HR Business Partner

My first HR job was at one of the few remaining local franchises of the Bell System, the one-time monolith that ruled the telephone industry for more than a century. By the time I arrived, the company was in the midst of transitioning from an outdated land-line business model to its digital future.

There were cuts. And there were testy union negotiations.

Needless to say, I delivered a lot of bad news, especially about benefits, which were always a sticking point with the union. You know that horn music they play on The Price is Right when someone loses? Some days, that could have been my soundtrack.

“Bad news – your premiums are going up.” Bm-bm-bm-bmmm.

“Sorry, your out-of-pocket cost is going to be higher.” Bm-bm-bm-bmmm.

“Oh, and your coverage isn’t going to be as good.” Bm-bm-bm-bmmm. Whaaaaaaaaa.

In those situations, I always found it useful to have something up my sleeve to hedge the bad news. And that’s when I discovered the value of vision benefits. Vision was always something we could tout as a positive.

And boy did I tout.

Vision benefits are designed to be used, to solve a problem – conveniently, affordably and with style. Typically, the value of a covered eye exam justifies the premium. And if a member needs contacts or glasses, they enjoy savings on materials.

Plus, vision is cool. It’s almost like a shopping club. It’s not, “My MRI and knee scope are going to cost me how much?” It’s, “Which frames best complement my face?” It’s brand-name; it’s style; it’s accessorizing.

It’s good news you can deliver. For instance, do you and your associates know that …?

• Most vision plans allow members to buy a new pair of glasses every 12 months. That means every year you can create a fresh look with your most important accessory. Many plans often allow for discounts on second pairs, so you can easily mix and match as you wish.

• Vision benefits provide real savings. On average, EyeMed members save 71% vs. retail. And 39% of members have no out-of-pocket cost over their copays.

• Vision benefits give you access to high-end frames. Nearly all the top fashion brands – including names like Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. and Versace – carry frames toward which you can apply your benefits.

• Members can use the benefit from the comfort of home. Websites like Glasses.com and ContactsDirect.com now are in-network providers. And they feature a large variety of brands and styles.

• Some vision plans offer extra savings. Aside from their core benefit, EyeMed members can get deals on sunglasses and lots of great discounts on other vision-related products.

I understand that when it comes to benefits, medical is probably always going to take up 90% of the conversation. As an HR business partner, I can accept that. If you handle your company’s benefits you probably spend most of your time talking to actuaries and tracking health care costs. I also know employees are most emotional about their medical benefits because that's where they are most exposed. I feel the same way as my family's source for employer-sponsored benefits.

So let vision help lighten things up.

The right vision plan offers real value and even a little excitement. It can also leave your employees feeling better about their benefit package, especially if they've had a bitter pill to swallow in other areas of coverage. Be sure to take a few minutes to help your workforce see their vision benefits clearly.