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Courting Millennials and How Vision Benefits Play a Role

You might assume that the young and healthy don’t put much thought into their health benefits—and that attractive health offerings won’t persuade this group when it comes to choosing an employer.

Think again, because more data is revealing the opposite to be true.

With Baby Boomers retiring in droves, Millennials—those born between 1981 and 2000, also known as “Generation Y”—will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. This means that this generation will be setting the tone for what employees look for, and expect, from employers.

Here’s what this means for your company and how vision benefits can help to attract and retain talent from this group:

Millennials want—and need—vision care.

According to research from Brill Street + Company, 92 percent of Millennials reported that health, dental and vision insurance coverage is influential or very influential to them when considering an employer. While this may be surprising since this group is predominantly in good health, three-quarters of those in Gen Y say that insurance is something they need.

They might not need readers just yet, but the majority (60 percent) of adults aged 18 to 34 wear glasses or contacts. Sixty percent of this generation also reports that they feel eyeglasses are a fashion accessory, so while they may not be headed to their optometrists solely to check if they have cataracts, Millennials are thinking about their vision. In fact, adults are more likely to visit their optometrist than their primary care physician (1), meaning that eye doctors are many times the first to identify signs of serious health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. If early detection is a by-product of Millennials exploring a simple fashion accessory, it’s worth investing in.

Millennials are price conscious.

Living through an economic recession, coupled with growing student loan debt averages, young adults are looking to get the most bang for their buck, health benefits included. This means that these folks will be looking to save when it comes to out-of-pocket costs associated with insurance. Vision care is a low-cost benefit for employers to offer, and partnering with an insurer than offers the lowest out-of-pocket costs for employees means that you don’t have to overspend to help employees save.

Millennials grew up using technology.

This is a no-brainer. This group is looking for real-time, instant digital solutions, meaning that insurance cards are a thing of the past. They’ll be looking for vision plan offerings that allow them to schedule appointments online, interact with their insurer via social media and browse eyewear options online before stepping into their optometrist’s office. If you’re courting Millennials, you’ll want a vision provider that does the same.

The other side of this coin is that constant exposure to digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets, could have long-term implications on the eyes. An American Optometric Association survey found that 68 percent of Gen Y-ers report experiencing technology-related eye or vision problems. Much of these eye issues could be due to the harmful blue light that is emitted from digital devices, so we may see an uptick in the near future of more Millennials than ever needing prescription eyewear, possibly even blue light-blocking lenses.

The bottom line: with Millennials overtaking the majority of the workforce in the coming years, it’s crucial to tailor your company offerings to match the needs of this emerging, influential group. There are many ways to do this, and setting your sights on vision care is just one of them.

Sources: Archives of Internal Medicine, Preventive Health Examinations, and Preventive Gynecological Examinations in the US, 2007 and VSP utilization data based on an annual benefit with low copays and lens

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About Melody Healy

Melody joined VSP in 1997. She began her sales and marketing career in 1985 working in workers’ compensation, senior healthcare and employee benefits. Melody owned and operated her own third-party administration company and insurance marketing firm for seven years prior to joining Anthem Health, bringing many years of industry experience to VSP. She has held…