Value of vision care assessed in study

Oct 15, 2009

Managed care executives are looking at innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs without negatively impacting members.

Managed care executives are looking at innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs without negatively impacting members. Realizing the importance of vision care and its relationship to overall health can make a big difference, says one expert.

A study, undertaken by Human Capital Management Services on behalf of VSP Vision Care Inc., showed that its vision care program can save employers nearly $2,900 annually on disease management costs for each employee with diabetes, when detected early via an eye examination.

"Twenty percent of the population generates 80% of the cost, which is largely the result of chronic conditions," says Susan Egbert, MBA, director of utilization and quality management at VSP Vision Care Inc. "With the number of people with chronic conditions increasing, early detection and treatment can make a significant impact on the bottom line."

Study data on the VSP Eye Health Management Program showed that VSP doctors were often the first to detect early symptoms of conditions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed and untreated pending more advanced symptoms. As a result, healthcare, pharmacy and lost-time costs were significantly lower in the VSP early detection group.

"Through the eyes, a doctor can clearly see blood vessels that reveal a lot about what's going on in the body, so a comprehensive eye exam can identify signs of conditions that may otherwise go unnoticed until they are more serious," Egbert says.

According to Egbert, it's estimated that just 21% of adults receive an annual preventive health exam, while 61% of Americans with coverage receive annual eye exams.

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