When it comes to medical benefits, everyone in the Pittsburgh area is familiar with UPMC and Highmark.
But what about ancillary products-products like dental or vision coverage? Who are the big players for other medical insurance products?
If you work in HR in the Pittsburgh area or own a business, adding ancillary products to your employees’ medical package is essential if you want to retain great employees or catch the eye of exceptional new talent.
Vision insurance is one of those products that employees highly covet! And the good news is this: vision insurance is incredibly reasonable to add to your employee benefits package.
And with creative options like offering voluntary products or utilizing HSAs, adding vision insurance can cost an employer next to nothing.
(For more on this, check out my short guide to vision insurance.)
With that in mind, who is offering the best vision insurance products at the best prices? What makes these companies stand out? What do they offer their participants?
I have served businesses as an employee benefits broker for more than twenty years now. In that time, I’ve worked with all kinds of insurance providers. I’ve learned a lot about what they provide and who they best fit.
I put this article together to share my experience with you. In this article, we’ll look at the top eight vision insurance companies in the Pittsburgh area. These companies are:
- Davis Vision
- Lincoln Vision Care
- Vision Benefits of America (VBA)
Aetna, a CVS company, provides multiple lines of medical benefits to its clients. As a major group health insurance provider Aetna is a national provider.
- Requires vision participants also to carry their dental insurance products
- Utilizes an extensive network of providers from large retail chains to small local providers.
- Offers online scheduling to their members
- Allows members to receive care from any provider but offers discounts for visiting providers in their network
- Offers discounts on LASIK procedures from the U.S. Laser Network
Davis Vision is a national company with an extensive network of providers. One of their major partners is Visionworks, making it convenient to find a provider almost anywhere in the U.S. At one time, Davis Vision was based in the Pittsburgh area. Now, Davis Vision is a part of Versant Health which is headquartered in Linthicum, MD.
- Does not offer other ancillary medical insurance products (Davis Vision is a vision-only insurance company.)
- Covers contact lenses or eyeglass lenses annually (but not both)
- Offers discounts on additional eyewear or lenses after fulfilling annual prescription
- Provides a one-year warranty on eyeglasses and will replace them if they break.
- Offers group vision insurance only and does not sell individual policies.
- Provides discounts for LASIK procedures
- Partners with Your Hearing Network to provide discounts on hearing aids for their members
Eyemed is one of the largest vision insurance companies in the nation. Cincinnati-based, this company serves nearly 20,000 clients.
- Incents clients to utilize their network of providers
- Requires clients to manually submit a claim when using a provider outside of their network
- Uses large national chain providers like Pearl Vision, Lens Crafters, and Target Optical, as well as small local providers
- Only offers vision insurance, not other lines of medical insurance products
- Allows employers to design a vision insurance program that meets the needs of their employees (their plans are not a one-size-fits-all product)
- Provides additional discounts on vision products and services after members use their annual benefits
- Available to businesses in the Pittsburgh region though rarely utilized here
Highmark is a significant medical insurance provider headquartered in Pittsburgh. Highmark offers Blue Edge Vision coverage for employers who enroll in their group medical insurance program.
- Deals in multiple lines of medical insurance products, including dental and vision
- Utilizes Davis Vision nationwide network of providers
- Provides employers a choice between five benefit levels
- Offers a one-year breakage warranty on eyewear
- Offers hearing consultations and discounted hearing aid technology to their members
Lincoln Vision Care
Lincoln Vision Care is a Lincoln Financial Group company. Lincoln Financial Group focuses on life insurance, annuities, and ancillary group benefits. Founded in 1905, this insurance company is well-established and respected in the ancillary insurance product market.
- Provides an extensive network of vision providers
- Well-known and established ancillary company
- Offers a high level of service to its clients
- Packages multiple group benefits together for employers to create a robust group benefits package
- Coverage includes eye exam and contacts or eyeglasses
- Discounts upgraded eyeglass lenses
- Includes discounts for corrective laser surgery
MetLife is a large ancillary insurance provider in the United State. Employers can offer their products to their entire group or as a voluntary product to interested employees.
MetLife vision insurance:
- Offers two distinct plans: a Vision PPO plan and VisionAccess
- Utilizes a sizeable network of providers with lower out-of-pocket costs for members on their Vision PPO
- Works with in-network providers to file member’s claims
- Discounts services for members of Vision Access
- Does not require enrollment or claims filing for those with VisionAccess
- Offers discounts on LASIK procedures at participating locations
Principal is a well-known and well-established insurance company. Besides providing vision insurance, Principal deals in other ancillary insurance products as well as retirement plans.
Principal’s vision insurance:
- Utilizes VSP network of providers
- Requires a copay for eye exams and eye care products
- Discounts exams, glasses, and contacts when purchased by a provider
- Offers a multitude of group benefits to create a robust employee benefits program
- Has the option of being part of a group plan or an independent voluntary product
- Can be bundled with other group insurance products like dental, disability, life, or critical illness insurance products
VBA – Vision Benefits of America
Based in Carnegie, PA, VBA at one time only offered vision insurance products. Now, this company has established a dental insurance program as well. VBA is known to:
- Aggressively price its products
- Allow employers to fashion their insurance package by setting coverage amounts
- Create plans with lens enhancements like anti-reflective or blue light coatings or progressive lenses
- Work with groups with as few as ten members
- Keep administrative costs low
- Offer dental insurance
Since 1955, VSP has been providing vision insurance for employers all over the country. With more than 88 million members, VSP is now one of the largest vision insurance companies in the nation.
- Partners with employers to design a plan that meets the needs of their employees
- Offers their members additional discounts on services like LASIK surgery, hearing aids, diabetes care, and financing
- Has an extensive network with thousands of private providers and over 700 Visionworks locations
- Gives the best pricing for members who use in-network providers
- Offers plan member online shopping for glasses and contacts at Eyeconic.com
Other Vision Insurance Companies
By no means is the above list of vision insurance providers exhaustive! There are loads of other carriers in the Southwestern Pennsylvania market.
If you are working with an ancillary insurance company to provide other group insurance products, like group dental or group life, chances are they also offer a vision insurance product.
Your employee benefits broker should help you evaluate the value of your current insurance company and its vision insurance offerings.
How do I choose a vision insurance company for my business?
Most vision insurance companies offer very similar insurance products. In general, many of them provide complete coverage for annual eye exams. Some companies will only provide this coverage every two years.
In addition, most vision insurance companies cover a portion of the cost of eyeglass frames, eyeglass lenses, or contact lenses.
So, if the products are so similar, what sets one vision insurance program apart from another?
Here are four factors that will help you determine which vision insurance company is the best fit for your business.
Cost is usually the factor that employers consider most heavily when selecting an insurance product. Keep in mind that vision products are relatively inexpensive in terms of ancillary insurance products.
My advice is this: Consider the cost, but don’t let it be the biggest driver when choosing an insurance company. Make sure you also look at what the company offers to your employees, and if they have other products you can bundle with vision insurance to enhance your employees’ package even more.
#2 Ease of Use
You want your employees to take advantage of their vision insurance. If it is difficult to use the product, your employees won’t use it. If the claims process is difficult or if it is hard to find a local in-network vision provider,
You will end up with unhappy employees if they pay for a product they don’t utilize. Ask your employee benefits broker about the insurance program’s ease of use.
#3 Employee Education
You also need to make sure your employees are educated about their insurance package. Some insurance companies do a better job than others at providing education for your team.
Ask your employee benefits broker about the employee education that various insurance companies will provide.
#4 Customer Service
You will also want to ask questions about various insurance companies’ customer service. If an insurance company comes in with a great price for you but isn’t known for excellent customer service, be wary about signing on for its product.
Your employees will, at some point, have an issue with their vision insurance. When you work with an insurance company known for great customer service, you won’t have to worry if something goes wrong.
Our company wants to add vision insurance to our program. What should we do next?
You want to create an outstanding employee benefits program if you’re considering adding vision insurance to your employees’ package.
So what do you need to do to put together this type of benefits program?
First, you need to hire an employee benefits broker with experience and creativity. The best benefits programs are fashioned after looking at all of your options – even options like self-funding, adding voluntary products, or utilizing tax-advantaged vehicles like FSAs.
A top-notch benefits broker can take your budgetary limitations, your employees’ desires, your company size, and several other factors and fashion them into a robust benefits program.
The broker you choose will have the greatest impact on the quality of your group insurance program.
A mediocre broker will produce mediocre results. A first-rate broker will build a long-term strategy to create a superior benefits program while controlling your costs.
Working with Baily Insurance
At Baily Insurance, we are committed to excellence. One of our core values is “Be the Best!”
We strive to provide the best service and the best product at the best price.
We don’t settle for anything less!
Do you have a business in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, or Ohio? Our team has the tools and resources to help you plan and execute a benefits program that will bring lasting results.
We have developed a process to help you make a thorough evaluation of your current benefits program, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current program. This assessment surveys your insurance needs, claims management processes, funding solutions, government compliance, and employee wellness.
After this deep dive, we can help you uniquely design your employee benefits program to meet your long-term benefit goals.
You can learn more about this process by reading the 6 Step Strategy to Creating an Effective Group Health Insurance Plan.
And as always, I’d love to answer any questions you have. Just take a minute to let me know how I can help you, and I’ll get back to you right away.