Unum Group’s Survey Finds Significant Number of Millennials Value Vision Insurance


BATON ROUGE, La.—Employee benefits provider Unum (NYSE: UNM) said this week the elimination of vision benefits could motivate more than one-third (34 percent) of U.S. workers ages 25 to 34 to look for a new job, according to the findings of its recent online survey. This finding and other results were derived from the online poll among 1,227 working U.S. adults conducted by Unum in July. While the likelihood of job-hopping was higher among the Millennial age group, other age ranges also reported they would consider leaving their current employer if vision benefits were eliminated, according to Unum’s announcement. (According to the Pew Research Center,  Millennials were born between the years 1981 and 1996 and currently are in the 22-37 age bracket.)

The breakdown of survey respondents who would consider leaving their job over vision benefits were: 29 percent of those 18 to 24 years old, 24 percent of those in the 35 to 49 age bracket, 21 percent of those 50 to 64, and 18 percent of those 65 and older. In the survey, only 50 percent of workers indicated their current employers offer vision insurance.

“Vision insurance covers the cost of comprehensive eye exams and can significantly decrease the cost of eyeglasses and contact lenses—items usually not covered by private medical plans,” Unum said in its announcement. “These plans have typically appealed to older workers with aging eyes. However, younger workers today are facing more vision problems compared to young adults 40 years ago, according to a study in JAMA Ophthalmology magazine.”

Unum, which provides benefits in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, has as its primary business groups Unum US, Colonial Life and Unum UK. Its portfolio includes disability, life, dental, vision, accident and critical illness coverage.

Amy Marko, senior vice president of dental and vision products at Unum, said she believes vision plans help “fill a gap in coverage to maintain eye health, appealing to a multigenerational workforce.” She added, “These benefits can help an employer decrease the cost of health care, increase productivity and minimize the current work force trend of job-hopping.” Unum, citing the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) annual employee benefits report, said the number of employers offering vision benefits has increased 7 percentage points within the last four years.

Separately last week, Unum Group reported a net loss of $284.7 million for its third quarter, which compared with net income of $252.3 million in the third quarter of 2017. The company said the net loss in the third quarter included an after-tax reserve increase of $593.1 million in the long-term care product line of the Closed Block segment, among other items. Excluding certain items, after-tax adjusted operating income totaled $300.6 million in the third quarter of 2018, compared with $246.1 million in the third quarter of 2017, Unum reported.

Unum US reported adjusted operating income of $270.9 million, an increase of 4.8 percent from $258.4 million in the third quarter of 2017.