Employers Offering Vision Insurance Save $5.8 Billion on Healthcare

Study Finds that Annual Comprehensive Eye Exams Detect Chronic Diseases and Reduce Emergency Room Visits and Hospital Admissions, Saving Employers Billions

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif., Feb. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A recent study conducted by HCMS Group, a human capital risk management firm that analyzes data to help employers reduce waste in health benefits and increase human capital, revealed that employers who offer their employees stand-alone vision benefits experienced $5.8 billion in cost savings over four years due to reduced healthcare costs, avoided productivity losses, and lower turnover rates.1

The HCMS study determined that individuals who receive an annual comprehensive eye exam are more likely to enter the healthcare system earlier for treatment of serious health conditions, thereby significantly reducing their long-term cost of care. Additionally, people are more likely to get an annual comprehensive eye exam than a routine physical.2

First to Identify Chronic Diseases

Comprehensive eye exams provide the only possible non-invasive view of blood vessels and the optic nerve. As a result, eye doctors can detect early signs of chronic diseases before any other healthcare provider.3 In fact, the study found that eye doctors were the first to identify signs of diabetes 34 percent of the time, high blood pressure 39 percent of the time, and high cholesterol 62 percent of the time in patients.

Chronic Condition / Percent of the time that the condition is identified first through an eye exam / Savings per employee over four
years due to early identification
Diabetes / 34 percent / $3,120
High Blood Pressure / 39 percent / $2,233
High Cholesterol / 62 percent / $1,360

"With healthcare costs increasing by 89 percent in the past 10 years and employer uncertainty surrounding the impact of the Affordable Care Act, identifying benefits that provide a positive return on investment is more critical to companies than ever," said Jim McGrann, president of VSP® Vision Care, the company whose member population was analyzed in the study.4 "The HCMS study confirms that employees' access to a stand-alone vision benefit provides a first line of defense in identifying and managing conditions that are straining our healthcare system and employers' bottom lines."

Potential Employer Savings

While the cost of healthcare is projected to rise another 6.5 percent for employers in 2014, HCMS found that employers can help manage these costs through preventive benefits like vision care—producing savings of up to $3,120 per employee over four years.5 The study found that for every dollar invested in a comprehensive eye exam, employers saw a $1.45 return on investment through lower healthcare costs, improved employee productivity, and lower turnover rates.

Disease / Savings over four years per 1000 employees
Diabetes: $28,111
High Blood Pressure: $34,617
High Cholesterol: $33,728
Total: $96,456

The HCMS study also found that those who had a chronic condition identified through an eye exam needed less medication to manage their condition and were 26.7 percent less likely to have emergency room visits and hospital admissions versus patients who had diseases detected by another healthcare provider.

About the Study

The study and comparison groups were drawn from a population of 120,000 enrolled employees and spouses of six large commercial clients of both HCMS and VSP Vision Care. The clients represented various industries across the United States, including engineering, technology, retail, financial services, and physical laborers.

HCMS matched vision claims data for members covered by VSP Vision Care to medical, pharmacy and employer data obtained from the clients' medical and drug carriers. Over a period of four years, HCMS compared patients whose chronic health conditions were first identified as a result of a comprehensive VSP eye exam against those who entered the healthcare system through traditional means, such as a routine physical.

Parameters: Individuals in the study had an index date between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008. They also had to be enrolled in a health plan for the six months prior to and 48 months after their index date to measure health plan and lost-time outcomes. Termination analysis required six months prior to and at least six months after each employee's index date. The index date was the date they were first identified – either by: 1) a VSP condition indicator, 2) medical diagnosis within 180 days post-VSP exam, or 3) medical diagnosis without VSP exam. Groups 1 and 2 were the study group and group 3 was the comparison group.

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About HCMS

HCMS Group, as a privately-held independent business, is the only combined health information data analytics and clinical prevention services company which helps businesses reduce their health benefit costs and support those employees with the greatest health risks. With a Research Reference Database (RRDb) of more than 3.5 million employees and their dependents, HCMS maintains the most comprehensive data for research purposes including human resource, medical, prescription drug, absenteeism, disability, workers' compensation, and productivity costs. HCMS provides services to employers of all sizes in various industries, health organizations, and government. See more at http://www.hcmsgroup.com.

About VSP Global

VSP Global® unites industry-leading companies to bring high quality, high fashion eyewear, customized lenses and ophthalmic technology to help people see across the globe. VSP Global companies include not-for-profit VSP Vision Care, the largest vision benefits and services company with 60 million members and a network of 30,000 eye doctors; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., the 3rd largest manufacturer, designer and distributor of quality fashion and technologically advanced eyewear in the world; Eyefinity®, the largest premier practice management software company for the eyecare industry; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in new lens technologies, production processes, service and logistics. VSP Global companies operate in 100 countries on 6 continents.


  1. The study's savings were measured based on multiplying per-employee savings over VSP Vision Care's entire 60 million member enrollment. The study population was representative of the U.S. population and was spread across the country.
  2. "Preventive Health Examinations, and Preventive Gynecological Examinations in the US," Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007.
  3. "Onset of NIDDM occurs at least 4-7 yr before clinical diagnosis," Diabetes Care, Vol 15, Issue 7 815-819.
  4. "2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey," Kaiser Family Foundation, August 2013.
  5. "Factors affecting 2014 Medical Cost Trend," PricewaterhouseCoopers, June 2013.

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