SAVINGS IN PLAIN SIGHT with ARISTA

7 Strategies for Saving on Vision Costs                                                                                                                

Follow these tips to get the best value on your glasses, contacts, and exams

If you’ve bought glasses for you or a family member in the past year, chances are you’ve dealt with the sticker shock of eye care. Being able to see clearly is a health necessity for more than 150 million Americans who use corrective eyewear. Not only do annual comprehensive eye exams ensure safe driving, working and other activities, they’re also imperative to diagnosing and treating more serious eye conditions early on. Before you shop for your next pair of eyeglasses or contacts, check out these strategies to save on your eye care.

1. Buy your frames online

The proliferation of online discount eyeglass providers has made it easier than ever to get your frames for less. You’ll typically pay 50-75% less with online sellers versus traditional retailers. Sites like Zenni Optical, Warby Parker and other online retailers have perfected the art of buying online by offering generous home try-on and return programs.

2. Buy your contacts online

Websites such as 1-800-Contacts and Vision Direct typically sell contacts for about 25% less than a traditional eye doctor might charge. By buying in bulk and using online discount codes, you may be able to reduce your costs even more.

3. Skip the add-ons

Many people might be surprised to find that most lenses already include scratch resistant coating and UV protection. Unless your prescription is above +/- 3.00, professionals recommend skipping other expensive upgrades like antireflective coating, light adjusting lenses, or high index or ultrahigh index lenses.

4. Use FSA or HSA funds

If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) through your workplace or health savings account (HSA), you can save by using the pretax money to pay for eye exams, prescription glasses, contacts, contact cleaning solution or even lasik surgery.

5. Evaluate your coverage

Even with vision coverage, the costs can add up. Review your healthcare and vision plans to make sure you are getting the most out of your coverage. Your vision policy may have in-network providers that offer cheaper coverage than out-of-network providers. If you have children, you may want to opt out of covering them on your vision plan if an annual eye exam is included in your health plan.

6. Take Advantage of Coupons and Other Discounts

Take advantage of online coupons and watch for deals from retailers and optometrists. You can often get a second pair of glasses for free or a combination discount for buying both frames and a supply of contacts at the same time.

7. Shop at Costco

Consumer Reports recently evaluated eyeglasses retailers, and Costco Wholesale was identified as having the highest overall eye care satisfaction rating in America. Customers report excellent customer service and lower prices. At Costco, the average cost for a complete pair of eyeglasses is $186, while the industry retail average is $220 to $240.

 

About That Inheritance… Don’t Count on It
Not too long ago, it was assumed that Social Security would pay for most people’s retirement needs. Now, we know better and most employees, regardless of their age, are aware that they need to save additional funds for their retirement.

LOOK FOR THE HELPERS

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers.

So often I read stories in the news about the “Big Bad Insurance Companies” charging too much, denying care and excluding prescriptions. I know from firsthand experience as an employee benefits consultant that these things do happen sometimes. My experiences at work and as a patient have usually been very different. Every day, I work with carriers like Aetna, AvMed, Blue Cross, Cigna, Humana and United Healthcare. At every turn, the account representatives are caring, responsive and solution oriented. They are often the helpers.

Over the past year, I battled breast cancer and my health insurance carrier, Aetna, was by my side at every turn. They quickly approved expensive testing for the BRCA gene and six injections of Neulasta following chemotherapy. Their prescription drug unit efficiently helped me get my prescriptions moved over to mail order so I never have to worry about running out.

Over the past few weeks, I have been touched to see several health insurance carriers reach out with solutions, support and guidance for their members and anyone who has been touched by the recent hurricanes in the Southeast.

  • Aetna will provide assistance with lost ID cards, free Teladoc visits and allow members to refill prescriptions early. They have also donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross and $50,000 to Team Rubicon.
  • Anthem will refill lost or damaged prescriptions, and has relaxed requirements for pre-authorization, pre-certification and referral.
  • Cigna has lifted prescription drug refill restrictions and waived preauthorization for acute and mental health care. They have also donated $200,000 the to American Red Cross.
  • Humana will allow members to refill prescriptions at non-network pharmacies, has removed Rx refill limits and will not require referrals to see specialists. They have also donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross.
  • United Healthcare and UMR will allow early prescription drug refills, provide free Teladoc visits and a free hotline for emotional support. They have also donated $1 million to Texas communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.

An overview of services offered and donations made is linked below:

http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/08/31/hurricane-harvey-health-care-industry-takes-action

A deep heartfelt thank you to our partners in service to our clients. Though our negotiations are intense at times, your efforts are recognized and appreciated.

 

 

BENEFITS BUZZ

Senate Rejects ACA Repeal Efforts

In the early morning hours of July 28, 2017, members of the U.S. Senate voted 49-51 to reject a “skinny” version of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), called the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA).

This was the final vote of the Senate’s 20-hour debate period, and effectively ended the Republicans’ current efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. However, the skinny repeal bill may be reintroduced at some point in the future.

What did the HFCA propose?

Similar to the American Health Care Act and the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the HCFA would repeal the ACA’s individual and employer mandate penalties, effective Dec. 31, 2015. However, the employer mandate repeal would only be effective through 2024.

In addition, the ACA’s reporting requirements under Sections 6055 and 6056 would remain intact.

The HCFA would have also:

  • Extended the moratorium on the medical devices excise tax.
  • Increased the contribution limit for health savings accounts up to the maximum out-of-pocket limits allowed by law for high deductible health plans.
  • Amended the ACA’s existing Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers, added stricter requirements for the Department of Health and Human Services in approving waivers, and extended waivers to eight years (instead of five), with unlimited renewals.

What are the next steps for employers?

Because the Senate was unable to pass any ACA repeal or replacement bill, the ACA remains current law, and employers must continue to comply with all applicable ACA provisions.

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that Republicans now intend to focus on other legislative issues, although they remain committed to repealing the ACA.

Coffee is the Nectar of the Gods
Ah, coffee, is there any better beverage? Speaking as a lover of coffee, but not a coffee snob, I always look forward to that first morning cup.