RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—A new study released by VSP Vision Care shows that VSP Vision Care members are “generally healthier and incur fewer health care costs linked to chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension when compared to members of other vision plans nationwide.” The study was conducted by Workpartners, a data-based risk management firm that helps employers reduce waste in health benefits and increase human potential, according to a VSP announcement. According to the study, on a per-person basis, VSP members with hypertension showed a $2,633 “cost avoidance” in the first year after identification versus members of other vision plans. For diabetes, VSP members showed a nearly $1,800 cost avoidance, the announcement noted. The study analyzed claims from only commercial clients who were covered by VSP’s most comprehensive plans, which cover a majority of the company's commercial population, a VSP spokeswoman told VMAIL
VSP network doctors were twice as likely to be the first touch point for patients seeking care, reporting chronic conditions before any other health care provider, according to Workpartners.
The study was based on Workpartners’ proprietary research reference database – which has more than 4.3 million active employees and their dependents—and includes specific data on 162,000 employees and their covered spouses from multiple large employers.
The “VSP member” group consists of VPS members who received an eye exam from a VSP doctor between 2017–2020. The  “other vision plan” group is plan members who received an eye exam from a non-VSP vision provider between 2017–2020. For both groups, prior to the first diagnosis of the condition, there was no indication of medical care related to the condition considered. (None of the client members of the Workpartners research Reference Database moved from VSP to another vendor or vice versa for the time periods chosen for analysis, according to VSP.)
Workpartners found that VSP members in the study are generally healthier, which VSP said “suggests that VSP eye doctors may play a critical role in identifying chronic conditions.”
VSP noted that for more than 15 years VSP Vision Care has partnered with network doctors to identify and engage VSP members with chronic hypertension and/or diabetes through its proprietary claims system. VSP said this effort has allowed the vision plan “to better understand the health of members and influence positive health outcomes in a number of ways, from coordinating care with health partners, to identifying eligible members for disease management programs, to sending critical eye exam reminders.”

Additional key findings at a glance:
• Comorbid medical and pharmacy costs are lower for VSP members.
• For VSP members with hypertension, medical and drug costs not associated with this condition were $1,861 and $370 lower, respectively.
• For VSP members with diabetes, medical and drug costs not associated with this condition were $1,580 and $432 lower, respectively.
• VSP members experience much less job turnover than non-VSP members.
* Enrollment in VSP vision coverage does not guarantee avoidance of costs or savings on medical or drug costs.
“For over 15 years, we have partnered with our network eye doctors to identify, engage with and support VSP members living with chronic conditions in order to deliver better health outcomes,” said Kate Renwick-Espinosa, president of VSP Vision Care. “From coordinating care with health partners, to effective disease management programs and sending critical eye exam reminders, this study validates the work we’ve been doing is helping lower healthcare costs for clients and members and making a positive impact on their overall health and wellness.”
A comprehensive eye exam can reveal more than just vision correction needs, VSP noted. An eye doctor has an unobstructed and noninvasive view of the patient’s blood vessels during an eye exam, which offers the opportunity to detect early signs of serious conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Heart disease and diabetes continue to be among the costliest chronic conditions in the United States. Health care costs associated with hypertension account for about $131 billion, and individuals with hypertension are estimated to face a nearly $2,000 higher annual health care  expenditure compared with their non-hypertensive peers. Meanwhile, people with diagnosed diabetes average medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes.
“VSP members not only saw lower health care costs but were significantly more likely to stay employed with their company following disease detection, suggesting the value of VSP vision services may both reduce benefits cost and positively impact company business performance,” said Justin Schaneman, practice lead of Workpartners consulting services.
A more detailed view of the case study can be viewed here.

The study includes data on 162,000 employees and their covered spouses from multiple large employers across the United States. Source: Workpartners Research Reference Database (RRDb) and VSP Vision Care