Why renew with a 12/12/12 vision benefit design? It's good for employees and employers

image of this article's author, Natasha D'sa
Natasha D'sa
Vice President

When it’s time for your organization or your clients to renew their vision benefits and you’re hearing questions like, “What’s new in vision benefits?” – or you just want to be a proactive benefits resource – you’ll want to talk with your vision benefits company about the latest vision benefits trend: a 12/12/12 frequency.

As you may know, the 3 main components of vision benefit frequency are, in order: the eye exam, lenses and frames. Many vision benefits have featured a 12/12/24 month frequency – an exam and lenses every year but frames every other year.

However, times change. Prescriptions change. Frame fashion changes quickly now too. People want more from their benefits. And the logic of a 12/12/12 benefit has begun to reveal itself to be good for both the benefit member and the employer.

Vision benefit frequencies can have positive impact in the long run

You might not think moving the frame frequency from 24 months to 12 would have much of an impact, other than a cost impact. Actually, the effect on employee health can be significant for the cost - about $1 more per member per month. [1]

To understand the impacts on employee health, let’s do a little refresher on the connection between vision health and whole-body health. A vision exam can provide early detection of chronic conditions like hypertension [2] and diabetes [3] – and early detection of these conditions can help reduce ongoing health expenses and medical claims costs, [4] which is where healthcare costs really add up.

By moving a frame benefit from 24 months to 12 months, eye exam utilization increases by nearly 10% – and that means more opportunity for early detection of those chronic conditions, plus serious eye health conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration. [5]

In addition, more frequent eye exams directly translate into more employees with up-to-date prescriptions – and employees who see better are more productive and happy at work. [6]

The savings appeal of a 12/12/12 vision benefit frequency

Finally, moving to a 12/12/12 benefit frequency has significant “eye appeal” (forgive the pun) for employees. They’ll see this improved frequency as a real value their benefit is providing, and something that just makes sense, since the exam, lenses or contacts and frames will all have the same 12-month frequency. There won’t be any more member confusion on frame frequency versus lens or exam frequency. Even better, it means lower member out-of-pocket costs — a payback to members of almost 6 times their investment in vision premiums, or $260 over a standard 4-year contract term. [7]

A 12/12/12 also means more employee choice. Members can buy a pair of ophthalmic eyeglasses 1 year and prescription sunglasses the next. Or, they might want to get contact lenses in year 1 and glasses in year 2, or a new pair this year and a backup pair next. However members choose to use their benefit, it’s their choice – and as they choose they’re doing something worthwhile for their health and happiness. It stands to reason, this adds up to real satisfaction with the benefits the employer provides.

More than half of EyeMed members now have a 12/12/12 frequency; shouldn’t you look at this when you’re looking at your vision benefit renewal?

Talk to your EyeMed representative about how a 12/12/12 vision benefit design might help your organization and its members – or your clients. If you don’t have EyeMed benefits, learn more at starthere.eyemed.com.


1: $1 refers to EyeMed per member per month cost, which will be in addition to the proposed or current PMPM cost, EyeMed analysis, 2017

2: “Open Your Eyes To High Blood Pressure,” accessed Nov. 6, 2018, at http://www.eyesiteonwellness.com/open-your-eyes-to-high-blood-pressure/ .

3: “How a routine eye exam can save your life,” accessed Nov. 6, 2018, at http://www.eyesiteonwellness.com/how-a-routine-eye-exam-can-save-your-life/ .

4: 2017 Gallup: Diabetes Costs U.S. Economy Estimated $266B Annually

5: Based on EyeMed book of business analysis, 2017.

6: Accurate vision prescriptions can boost workplace productivity by an average of 2.5%. “Invigorating Interest in the Vision Benefit” from the NAVCP Medical Advisor Roundtable, 2013.

7: Average value over a 4-year contract term with the most common $130 allowance. Value may vary by allowance. Based on EyeMed analysis, 2017.