Why This Move By Covered California Could Mean Big Business for VSP

February 23, 2016

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Source: Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California on Wednesday announced it selected VSP Vision Care as its vision insurance provider for adults statewide.

Unlike other health coverage offered through the state’s health insurance exchange, the vision insurance is not eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. But the move opens a potentially big market for the company because consumers will be able to buy VSP’s insurance via a link from the Covered California website.

And it ends a long-running source of friction between VSP and Covered California that in 2012 nearly drove the company out of state. The statewide exchange last year sought competitive bids from vision plan insurance companies to get linked to the site.

“We’ve been pushing for this for all the state exchanges,” said Jim McGrann, CEO of parent company VSP Global, based in Rancho Cordova. VSP will offer Covered California customers its individual vision and optics insurance.

VSP has been offering direct-to-consumer insurance for four years, and that product has been growing quickly, McGrann said. It is still a small pool of customers compared to VSP’s 80 million insured, but the new offering has doubled in size every year for four years. The insurance has a variety of options and plans, starting at $15 a month.

The coverage provides advantages for people who wear glasses or contacts, and it lowers the cost of eye exams.

For years VSP has been trying to broadcast the general message that an annual eye exam is an important part of overall health screening, McGrann said. Eye doctors can see and detect early signs of high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. It provides a huge health and wellness benefit.

Adult vision care is not classed an “essential benefit” for adults under the federal Affordable Care Act, which is why it is not covered by primary insurance. Vision care is considered an “essential benefit” for children.

“Vision coverage is important for our members’ overall health and Covered California has made it easier than ever for them to find quality vision care options through VSP, the industry leader in bringing vision coverage to consumers,” said Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director, in a news release.

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