Offering Healthcare in Trying Times

Over the last few years, one thing has been clear to us: Businesses are struggling to offer healthcare benefits to employees, and vision is one of the first to go when cuts are made.  Drs. Cheryl Vincent-Riemer and Sarah Knapp, the other doctors of VisionCare, realize along with me the consequences of giving up eye care when a family doesn’t have benefits.  For example, there are reasons we need comprehensive medical annual eye exams:

•          Up to 25 percent of school-age children may have vision problems that can affect learning, but only 14 percent of children receive a comprehensive eye exam before starting school. Nearly ten million kids have undetected vision problems.

•          According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), surveys show that the most frequent health complaints among computer workers are vision related. Studies indicate that 50 percent to 90 percent of computer users suffer from visual symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

•          Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is left untreated; it’s estimated over 3 million Americans have it but only half know.

•          Approximately 20.8 million children and adults in the United States (7 percent of the population) have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, 6.2 million diabetics (30 percent) are unaware they have the disease.

With the Kaiser Foundation predicting the cost of healthcare for the average U.S. family with employer-sponsored health coverage will increase 7.6 percent this year, we don’t want to see more families skipping the trip to the eye doctor. The writing was on the wall that businesses would continue to need help in order to offer employees benefits, so we were proactive and created a unique program called Vision Choices.

Vision Choices is an in-house funded program based on an uncomplicated one-page contract.

With premiums on the rise and vision benefits on the chopping block, the option of signing up employees through a simple contract with VisionCare not only provides an innovative opportunity, but also a local business-to-business relationship with a company grounded in mid-Michigan and committed to local interests.  I founded the practice 35 years ago, and Dr. Vincent-Riemer joined as partner over 20 years ago, Dr. Knapp more than ten.

Everyone needs to have their eye health checked; patients who are diabetic, have a history of eye disease in their family, wear contact lenses, children of school age or those who have a refraction error need to have their eye health monitored regularly. Affordability should not be a concern, and VisionCare wants to work with businesses to alleviate the issue.

In terms of work culture in mid-Michigan, we see offering the program as a fundamental duty to our fellow business owners and their employees. To help our community progress into a better economy, with healthcare in mind, is our goal.

Dr. Lee Rigel’s office is located in East Lansing, where he practices in a three-doctor office specializing in contact lenses. In that capacity he participates in many clinical investigational studies for several contact lens manufacturers and pharmaceutical laboratories.








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