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 By the time I arrived, the company was in the midst of transitioning from an outdated land-line business model to its digital future.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.