Few Private-Sector Workers Have Vision Care Plans at Work

Only 23 percent had access to them in March 2017, according to BLS, which notes access to other types of health benefits was significantly higher.

In advance of this year's White Cane Awareness Day on Oct. 15, a day that for half a century has celebrated the achievements and independence of people who are blind or visually impaired, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Oct. 13 that vision care plans were available to just 23 percent of private-industry U.S. workers in March 2017—far below the level of access to other types of health benefits: medical care—67 percent; outpatient prescription drug coverage—66 percent; and dental care—42 percent.

White Cane Awareness Day also highlights the importance of vision care and vision care benefits. The data come from the National Compensation Survey—Benefits program, and in this instance, having access means the benefit is available from employers, regardless of whether employees choose to participate.

When they are offered it, those 79 percent of those with access to a vision plan participated in it as of that month, according to BLS. Workers with higher average wages had greater access to vision care plans than those with lower pay—only 6 percent for workers with an average wage in the lowest 10 percent and 41 percent for workers with an average wage in the highest 10 percent. Participation rates were 65 percent for workers in the lowest 10 percent with access to care and 81 percent for workers in the highest 10 percent.

And workers in larger establishments had more access to vision care plans than workers in smaller establishments.

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