To All Stakeholders of Vision Care Direct:
Unless you’ve been on a quest in the wilderness for the last few weeks, everyone knows that the world has changed dramatically. Our current crisis has affected every facet of society and we are all now in the process of creating a new normal.
This document will outline some of the changes that we are implementing to ensure that we continue to serve our doctors, agents and members to the best of our ability.
The good news is that since Vision Care Direct is NOT an insurance-based plan, we have some flexibility in how we deal with our stakeholders and their needs.
VCD had moved all customer representatives into a “work at home status” when the pandemic first hit. In order to continue to meet all HIPAA guidelines, that approach originally forced us to move to email-based customer service. Since that time, we have updated our phone systems to allow our “at home” customer service reps to have the ability to answer incoming calls. In addition, we have recently installed a new ticket system that will allow us to more effectively and efficiently track all requests that come in via email and telephone. We also now have a limited number of customer service professionals working in the office to help better process mail, payments and the billing process.
One of the fastest and most efficient way to have questions answered is still to send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Most questions are answered that same day.
Stakeholders can call (877) 488-8900 for all requests. If you are forced to leave a voice mail message please be sure to provide your name, company, and specific request along with a good email address so that we may quickly and efficiently handle your needs.
We have just launched our new online chat feature on our website. This adds an additional option for getting help when you need it. This service just launched July 6, 2020. Please bear with us as we learn and implement a new system. We will be working to improve response times and our own understanding of how the system functions going forward.
In addition, we will have an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System sometime during the 3rd quarter of this year. This option will provide a 24/7/365 customer service option for checking eligibility.
Participation and Eligibilty
Employers across the country have implemented a wide variety of policies and procedures concerning eligibility for their benefits during this time. In addition, many insurance-based carriers have specific guidelines they must follow when it comes to who is eligible, who isn’t and how that is applied.
Vision Care Direct will work with our client companies to meet their internal requirements as they change along with the environment. We will not impose any minimum requirements on our end for an employee to maintain or acquire vision coverage if it continues to be payroll deducted.
Our normal requirement for group size is currently a minimum of 2 participants.
Continuation of coverage
Since Vision Care Direct is not insurance, our legal team has determined that we are not subject to the applicable rules that fall under COBRA guidelines. We have always had an Employee Continuation of Coverage Plan (ECP) that allows employees who leave employment to keep their current coverage for up to 24 months at the same rate they enjoyed through their employer sponsored plan.
Some companies prefer to include VCD under their COBRA process, and we have worked with those companies to ensure a consistent approach across the board.
Vision Care Direct will continue to offer our Employee Continuation of Coverage Plan on an individual basis for each employee who leaves employment for any reason during this time at the same rate that they received through their employer sponsored plan, for a period of up to 24 months.
Vision Care Direct will work with companies who elect to provide coverage through their normal COBRA processes and will follow those guidelines per direction from those employers.
When an employee returns to work after a period off and wishes to return to their employer sponsored plan, VCD will allow their plan to be converted back to their employee sponsored plan.
We are asking that our employer groups and brokers communicate any expected changes in payment that might become necessary. We will work with our stakeholders on a case by case basis if changes become necessary on their end. Late fees will not be automatically added to late payments. VCD has always been flexible surrounding the net 30-day rule. We will attempt to reach out to accounts payable departments if payments are delayed. Communication is critical to our process and as always, we are willing to work with our companies to help them deal with changes in personnel in their payment processing departments.
We do not anticipate any changes in rates due to mid plan year enrollment. As always, we will do an analysis at renewal and work with our companies to minimize changes whenever possible.
No changes in plan design or benefits will occur due to a drop in enrollment due to the current crisis.
New enrollments, enrollment changes
Currently, we do not expect any changes in our current processes regarding submission times and completions. We do ask that companies provide notification of termination of employees within the same month that employees leave to ensure that benefits are not provided to those who will not have payroll deductions made on their behalf. This helps protect rate structures for the rest of your employees going forward. We will accept and process new enrollments as they come in and process them within our normal 72-hour window.
Printed and mailed cards were not available for a period of time due to changes in staff work environments and the availability of commercial printers and systems. We now have the ability to print and mail cards again but ask that our stakeholders be patient in that we are working with a reduced in office staff. The printing and mailing of cards will take longer than normal and we ask for your grace and understanding during this time.
Member ID cards are not needed to obtain care. Members can access their benefits by providing their name, address and telephone number to their provider. Member cards can be obtained by email by contacting us at email@example.com or by logging into their member account at www.visioncaredirect.com
We now have an online option for employees to complete their re-enrollment process and will do everything we can to provide electronic materials that can be reviewed remotely. If you would like to access our online enrollment portal please let us know as soon as possible. We have to load your company details, plans and rates into the system before making it available to your employees so ask that you give us at least 30 days’ notice if you intend to use the online enrollment portal for your initial or re-enrollment.
Unless we hear differently from our agents or HR staff we will assume that any renewals for coming months will occur as expected.
For companies that are forced to suspend business and layoff their entire workforce we will suspend their benefits until such time that they are able to re-open. At that time, we can discuss how that might affect renewal dates going forward.
If you have any additional questions or need assistance with anything, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We greatly appreciate your business and are honored that we have been given the opportunity to serve you. The world is changing. We can weather the storm and emerge stronger than ever. All we have to do is have faith and work together to meet whatever challenges come our way.
Don C. Railsback O.D.
CEO, Vision Care Direct