When it comes to health and wellness, one of the most important areas to consider is eyesight. As the “windows to the body,” an estimated 80 percent of what we perceive comes through our sense of sight. Here, Matt Cuomo, vice president of Sales and Support at Vision Benefits of America (VBA), a Pittsburgh-based group vision and dental insurer, and a partner for discounted group vision plans for MBA members, talks about the benefits of vision care for employers and their employees, as well as the bottom line.
Founded in 1965, Vision Benefits of America (VBA) was one of the first preferred provider organizations in the nation offering group vision coverage in Pennsylvania. Tell us about how the VBA got its start and the number of lives it impacts today.
VBA was founded in 1965 as part of another vision carrier. In the mid-1980s, VBA separated to become a stand- alone entity in order to better serve the citizens of Pennsylvania. Since then, VBA has expanded its footprint to include D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Missouri and West Virginia. This footprint covers nearly 1 million members nationwide. Currently, VBA is expanding into other states throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West.
VBA is now much more than a local vision provider. Tell us what your services include?
In 2017, VBA partnered with Tru Assure Insurance Co. to offer dental benefits. Since that time, the list of clients with VBA dental has grown significantly. To that end, VBA and Tru Assure regularly modify product offerings to best serve the needs of the membership. Ultimately, VBA prides itself on providing exemplary service to all of its constituents including members, providers, labs, HR teams and insurance brokers/consultants.
How extensive is your provider network?
VBA has an extensive nationwide provider network that includes 23,000 access points. This allows members, wherever located, to find an in-network VBA provider within a manageable radius of their location.
How important is vision care to overall health?
Comprehensive vision care is vital to overall health and wellness. Routine vision exams can detect early symp- toms of not only eye diseases but also many systemic diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre- diabetes and other issues including neurological disorders.
What are the advantages of offering a vision plan in your workplace?
By offering vision benefits as part of a comprehensive benefit package, employers can positively impact retention and recruitment efforts. These type of benefits help to create a sense of value and trust between employers and employees. Additionally, through early disease detection, employers may realize a reduction in overall medical costs. Studies show that groups that offer medical, dental and vision, as opposed to just medical, have a lower medical costs and see a reduction in ER visits and in-patient hospital stays from employees.
Is there anything new that we should be aware of when it comes to vision benefits in 2020?
Technology in the optical field is continually evolving. Manufacturers place a great deal of investment into R & D and new products consistently emerge. For instance, photochromic (transition) contact lenses entered the marketplace in early 2019. Another point of awareness revolves around legislation. Many states have enacted legislation that impacts the relation- ship between providers and carriers and ultimately the members. It’s important for HR teams to understand the various legislation that may impact their members.
What’s the best way to learn more about VBA?