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MVC Coverage among US Adults

MVC Coverage among US Adults

With a majority of eye exams and Rx eyeglass purchases involving some type of MVC coverage or vision insurance, it is important to track the number of consumers possessing vision insurance or some type of MVC coverage.  Generally as coverage increases, so do the number of eye exams and eyewear purchases. As of December 2014, we estimate that over 121.2 million American adults have some type of MVC or vision insurance coverage. Thanks to a rising adult population (2.2 million to 2.5 million annually), and to a continually improving economy and rising employment numbers, the number of adults with MVC coverage has been increasing now for about 5 years after declining during the recession. In fact, the number of covered lives increased by about 2.2 percent (or 2.6 million additional adults) during the 12ME period Dec’14 alone. In fact, compared to 2007 (before the recession started), the aggregate number of adults with some form of MVC coverage is up by 10 million from Dec’07 to Dec’14.

The demographics of the US adult population with MVC coverage are similar to, but slightly different from, the demographics of the general adult population.  However, women, adults between the ages of 35 to 54, adults from higher income households, adults from the Northeast region of the US, and adults that currently wear some form of vision correction are all more likely to possess some type of vision insurance or MVC benefit. Over the course of the past year, MVC coverage grew most among women, adults between the ages of 35 to 54, adults from higher-income households ($60K+), and people from the Southeast and Midwest regions of the country.

While the number of people with some type of vision insurance coverage has been increasing recently, half of the US adult population is still not covered by vision insurance. That represents a huge potential, for both MVC companies and the vision industry in general. The large majority of Americans without MVC coverage (76 percent) would opt to have vision coverage and even pay $5 per month for that coverage.   US adults who plan on buying eyeglasses in the next 6 months, people with children living at home, and/or people that have had their most recent eye exam from a conventional chain were more willing to pay $5 per month out of their own pockets for some sort of vision care plan.

Having access to vision insurance would likely lead to increases in vision correction usage and sales.  Approximately 63 percent of adults without vision insurance or MVC reported that they would go to get an eye exam if they had some sort of vision insurance plan.  Moreover, 50 percent of adults without vision insurance or MVC reported that they would buy and use eyeglasses if needed and if they had some sort of vision insurance plan.

Not surprisingly, the large majority of respondents (46.2 percent) received vision insurance as a benefit through their employer.  This was especially true among men, respondents from households above with annual income over $60K, respondents between the ages of 35 to 44 years old and respondents working full-time.  The next most common source of MVC coverage used by Americans was the use of a family member’s vision plan. Over one-quarter of respondents were dependent on their family members’ plan, this was a common source of coverage among women, adults between the ages of 18 to 34 and those who work part-time. Nearly 12 percent of respondents have purchased vision insurance directly from a provider or broker.  Respondents who recently had an eye exam at a mass merchant or a wholesale club and respondents who work part-time were more likely to have bought vision insurance directly from a provider.  The remaining respondents either received vision insurance through their school or university (1.3 percent) or they were not sure of the source of their coverage (12.9 percent).

Almost one-third of adults with insurance coverage pay $11 or more out-of-pocket for their MVC coverage per month; that is $132 or more per year.  Adults paying $11 or more per month were most likely between the ages of 35 to 44, live in the Southeast region of the US, work part-time and/or have bought glasses within the past 6 months.  On the other hand, about 29 percent of adults with vision insurance coverage pay less than $10 a month for MVC coverage (between $12 and $120 a year).  Paying less than $10 a month for MVC coverage was a common situation among adults between 18 and 34 years old, those who work full-time and/or those who wear contact lenses.  Lastly, over 21 percent of US adults do not pay any money out-of-pocket for their MVC coverage.

About one-third of all American adults with MVC coverage experienced a change of some sort in their coverage during the year 2014. For many of these 36 million adults who had their MVC coverage change over the past year (27.7 percent), the price they paid out-of-pocket for their coverage increased over the past year.  US adults between 35 and 44 years old, and adults working full-time were more likely to have had their out-of-pocket expenses increase for their MVC coverage in 2014.  Another change among respondents’ MVC coverage was the total loss of coverage, with almost 9 million adults losing coverage either temporarily or permanently at some point during the year.  About 4.4 million adults experienced a decline in the quality or amount of MVC benefits in 2014. Thus, many US adults experienced a decrease or loss in benefits and/or a rise in cost for their insurance plans during the course of the year.  Conversely, fewer adults saw an improvement in the quality of their insurance coverage and/or out-of-pocket costs.  Only 1.7 million people had the out-of-pocket expenses associated with their MVC plan decrease and only 3.3 million adults had an improvement in the quality of their vision insurance coverage.  Additionally, 3.4 million adults gained MVC coverage in the past year when they did not possess it in the past.  Many of the individuals with “new/first time” MVC coverage were between the ages of 18 to 34, from relatively lower income households or reside in the Northeast region of the country.

Data in this article was compiled from the Vision Council 2015 MVC Report, which is part of the overall large-scale consumer VisionWatch research program. For additional information, please contact Brin Miller at 703-740-2251 or

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