March 25, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
It’s break time at MTA bus depots, train yards, overhaul shops, maintenance facilities and warehouses throughout the city, but the most hotly anticipated vehicle rolling up to the worksite probably isn’t the local food truck — it’s General Vision Service’s Mobile Eye Care Center.
Outfitted with advanced diagnostic testing, as well as access to hundreds of today’s most sought after fashion frames — GVS’ fleet of Mobile Eye Care Center vans is making it easy for working men and women across a variety of job sites throughout the metropolitan area to safeguard their health — and look great doing it.
“It’s a full eye care store on wheels,” says CEO Myles Lewis.
Each GVS Mobile Eye Care Center will spend eight full hours at a worksite, regularly accommodating over 30 patients per visit. The ability to see as many as five workers at a time, streamlines the entire examination experience even further.
As much of 80 percent of learning occurs through sight — so, the impact of superior vision on productivity cannot be overstated. And in addition to fashion frames, GVS Mobile Eye Care Centers also cater to those in need of prescription eyewear.
“The GVS Mobile Eye Care van provides an invaluable optical service to our members who are located at various facilities throughout the New York Metro area,” TWU Local 100’s Chris Lightbourne says. “Most of our members are too diligently working to schedule a proper eye doctor visit. The GVS Mobile Eye Care facilitates this in ways that are so important to hard to reach Transit workers, such as track workers, train operators and bus operators. We are very appreciative of this service as we know we are unable to obtain this type of service with any other vision provider.”
But a complete eye exam is crucial to workers for another fundamental reason, as well. It is the only non-surgical procedure that gives doctors the ability to detect over 30 systemic conditions not only of the eye — but the entire body.
The comprehensive examinations that optometrists administer at all in-network provider locations and soon in the GVS’ Mobile Eye Care Centers, can detect and identify the presence of serious health threats including, diabetes, hypertension, HIV, tumors of the brain and more. In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone to be whisked to an emergency room for lifesaving treatment after an eye examination has revealed a serious medical issue in progress.
“The effectiveness of a routine eye exam has helped save lives,” Tony Rosario, GVS senior vice-president says.
Regular eye exams are also smart for another reason — they’re proven extremely important in achieving longterm savings.
“The only way to bend the cost curve in healthcare is early detection,” Lewis says. “That would require annual eye exams. The reality of it is, you have to have an annual eye exam. They should almost pay people to get an annual eye exam — and, in fact, we are seeing that now.”
With more than 60 years of history behind it, GVS presently manages vision care benefits for some 400 active unions, including TWU Local 100.
Despite the essential nature of proper eye care, or perhaps because of it, designer eyeglass frames are terribly pricey. Recent studies rank them among the highest markup items in any retail industry — behind only bottled water and movie popcorn. Overall, consumers can expect to shell out an average of $400 on eyeglasses.
GVS’ benefit programs, however, will cover the high cost of that $400 retail price and even more for its covered members, depending on how benefits are structured for a particular employer group.
“We have collections in approximately 200 locations where members can choose from up to 200-250 frames that would be covered in full, or at a fixed cost to the member so that it’s not sticker shock when a member’s purchasing frames,” Rosario says.
GVS coverage is actually even more extensive than that, providing members allowances of approximately $100 to $200 on virtually any eyeglass frame they may desire.
“And that is consistent with our national program, too, where we go one step further, and have a cost containment formula that allows those programs nationally to cover about approximately 33,000 frames at no cost to the member,” Rosario says.
Another inescapable cost involves the lenses themselves. Newer technologies for progressive lenses, and lenses treated with anti-glare coatings carry hefty price tags. But GVS has members covered on that score as well — saving them between 50 to 60 percent off retail.
“When a member goes in and they have a need for eyeglasses, they really get excited when they’re walking away with a pair of designer eyeglasses,” Rosario says. “Everybody is in tune to how they look.”