As future ODs, it is common for us to see patients seeking help for treatment and rehabilitation of life-debilitating injuries or conditions. Have you ever considered that one day the same unfortunate circumstances may happen to you?
Our profession demands that we be in good health in order to perform our duties properly and efficiently. It is important to know that if an event ever prevents you from working as an optometrist, you will be protected.
The American Optometric Association has joined forces with AGIA Insurance Services in order to provide group health insurance coverage designed specifically for us ODs! For those of you who don’t know, AOAExcel™ functions as the destination for AOA member benefits for both students and practicing ODs. It also provides an easy-to-understand handbook on how AOA Group Insurance can benefit us as early as graduation day!
After checking out the AOAExcel website, ExcelOD.com, to learn more about group insurance, I had the opportunity to have a Q&A with Guy S. Patterson, VP of Account Management and Jonathan Raimer, Senior Client Marketing Manager at AGIA in order to clarify what we should know about group insurance as we prepare to begin our careers. Additionally, Karen Bergfeld, Director of Operations at AOAExcel, helped put information into an optometry-focused perspective.
As an optometry student who has never heard about group insurance, what should I know about AOA Group Insurance?
AOA Group Insurance is available exclusively to AOA members and uses its affiliation with the AOA to offer discounted group rates. Policies include life, long term disability, cancer, emergency assistance, and lots of other necessary coverage tailored specifically to optometrists.
Why the affiliation with the AOA?
Many years ago, optometrists determined there was a need for group insurance tailored to their unique needs. AGIA has worked with many professional groups and was the perfect fit for AOAExcel to bring quality group insurance to AOA members.
What are the benefits of having AOA Group Insurance?
Because AOA Group Insurance is tailored to ODs and overseen by the AOA, they will constantly advocate on our behalf. With optometrists as the only members, our well-being and interests will be put before anything else.
What about cost?
As with everything in life, price depends on what you are planning to buy! The good thing about AOA Group Insurance is that there is flexibility. Everyone has a price point and as a new graduate, the cost of group insurance will depend on your age, number of years of coverage, and your income. As you build your career and your profession, your income will grow as well!
Knowledge is key. Being aware of the benefits AOAExcel offers us as future ODs will make our lives and careers easier. Also, as graduation approaches, you should know that AOA Group Insurance provides new grads with a “gift” called the Student “No-Cost” Term Life Program through which you will be able to activate a term life policy at no cost for a year. Make sure that you keep an eye out for an email from the AOA so you can take advantage of this great benefit. Though it may seem like life insurance isn’t a priority right now, keep in mind that student debt can be inherited by your co-signers!
Matthew Geller, the founder of OptometryStudents.com and SUNY Optometry 2013 graduate had this to say about the group insurance:
One of the first things I considered when I graduated 3 months ago was what I need to do with my insurance situation. Fortunately, the practice I am joining, Complete Family Vision Care is a corporation and so I was added to the policy for liability / malpractice insurance. Now this is only one type of insurance to consider, and as talked about in the above interview there are so many others to keep in mind.
The first I will be purchasing from AOA Group Insurance will be a disability policy. I learned that getting the policy when you are young and healthy locks you into a great rate and hence saves you money in the long run. I also learned, through a quick Google search, is that medical disability is a leading cause of bankruptcy! If you can’t do your job, you can’t get paid, right!? Some of the other policies, like life insurance is not applicable to me at this point in time but something to consider when I begin to build my income and my family (no wife and kids just yet).
In my experience insurance saved my butt a tremendous number of times. For example, I just hit a pot hole about 2 months ago which caused $5,000 worth of damage to my car’s suspension. I paid my $500 deductible and boom, I was back on the road ready to go. If I didn’t have a good policy I would have kissed my savings goodbye. Don’t even get me started on health insurance! So if you are in your 4th year it is time to start considering this stuff. AOA hooks us new grads up BIG TIME with these offers, as they provide the best value for the lowest price. If you have specific questions about my situation, just comment below. Take care everyone! -Dr. Matt Geller O.D