This post is sponsored by VSP. All opinions are my own.
In 1994, I started my first job after college. I was so happy because I had completed a successful interview and negotiated a salary that was more than I thought I could make as a new graduate.
To prepare for my first day of work, I bought a new suit and shoes, got a fresh haircut, and went to bed early so I could get a full 8 hours of rest.
The next morning, I leaped out of bed, got ready, and drove to my new job. I anticipated a day filled with learning, meeting new people, and finding my niche in the company. What I actually experienced was much different.
When I arrived to the HR office I was handed a stack of papers. I had to fill out an application (um, didn’t I already have the job?), non-disclosure forms, drug test paperwork, tax forms, and a plethora of other documents. After I completed that round of paperwork and a drug test, I returned to HR only to be greeted by another stack of papers.
“You need to select your health, disability, and life insurance,” said the HR director.
I stared at the pile of pamphlets and brochures and wondered if I was qualified to make these selections. I had only recently bought car insurance and that was a bit of an ordeal.
“Can I bring these to you later?” I said. “I need more time to review it.”
“Oh, sure,” she said. “But I need it by the end of the week.”
A wave of relief swept over my body. I had bought myself a little time, but the clock was ticking and I had to make decisions within the next few days.
The smart thing for me to do would have been to ask my mother, who worked at the same company, about the plans. Instead, I decided to do it on my own. I was an adult and this was an adult decision.
After taking a couple of days to peruse the information, I proceeded to make my benefit choices. The first thing I selected was dental insurance. Growing up, I never went to the dentist because we couldn’t afford it. Thankfully, I never had any dental problems, but I planned to make a dental appointment ASAP.
Next I selected my medical plan. I must admit that I didn’t really understand the plans. I simply choose the cheapest one.
I passed on life insurance, disability insurance, and the vision plan. Although I actually considered the two former plans, I gave no thought to the latter plan. My vision was perfect. I didn’t need glasses so there was no point in my spending my hard earned money on a vision plan.
Over the next few years, I put my annual open enrollment selections on autopilot. Each year I simply checked the box that read, “Keep Same Plans as Previous Year.”
This plan worked well until I got married and had kids. These life changes made me pay closer attention to my choices during annual election.
I thoroughly researched each medical plan and did a cost/benefit analysis. I purchased disability insurance and life insurance because I spent most of my days on dangerous construction sites. I even signed up for a Flexible Spending account (I discovered that kids go to the doctor a lot). However, I continued to decline the vision plan. My vision was still perfect. Or so I thought.
One day at work, I was walking across the construction site and I started to see spots. I closed my eyes to see if they would go away, but they didn’t. In fact, I started to see more spots. I started to get worried. Was I on the verge of going blind?
I dashed to my office and did a quick online search to find the closest eye doctor and made an appointment.
The doctor examined me and found no imminent threat of blindness, however, he did notice a decrease in my vision.
“You’re going to need corrective lenses,” he said.
I pretended to be surprised, but deep down, I knew it was true. My vision had been getting a little blurry, but I chose to ignore it. During the examination, the doctor told me that I should have been getting regular eye exams as part of my health management plan. Eye exams can help detect signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more. He shared some stats with me, but I didn’t really pay much attention until he started talking about my increased risk of glaucoma as an African-American man.
After the exam, the doctor asked me if I had vision insurance.
“No,” I said sheepishly.
“That’s too bad,” he said. “Looks like you’ll be paying full price today.”
After he added the price of the exam, lenses, and frames, the doctor handed me the bill.
That trip to the doctor was not only expensive, but it was also life changing. Since then, I have signed up for a vision plan annually.
The plans really paid off when my kids needed glasses. We discovered their vision problems after their grades started to drop. A new pair of glasses helped to see better, concentrate on their work, and get back on track academically.
If you’re in the midst of your annual open enrollment, I’d recommend your paying close attention to the vision plan options. Vision care is frequently the easiest, quickest, and least expensive benefit option to review and select. VSP, the nation’s only not-for-profit vision care company, is the best option for vision care. VSP will save you money, keep your eyes healthy, protect your family’s vision, and help you look great. Even if VSP isn’t available in your plan, be sure to include vision care in your open enrollment selection. Don’t let “easy” become “easy to dismiss.”