Dr. Chad Overman returned to Iowa in June to become the first director of vision benefits for Delta Dental of Iowa’s DeltaVision program, which was launched in 2010. Through Overman’s leadership, Delta Dental is seeking to significantly expand the DeltaVision vision insurance program, which currently has 72,000 total members. As the medical expert for DeltaVision, Overman works closely on product design and wellness initiatives and serves as a resource for DeltaVision plan members. Overman, an Iowa native, has spent the past four years as one of the nation’s top vision benefits consultants. He previously was director of professional relations with Walmart Inc. In that leadership role, he helped to direct a $30 billion business with 4,000 optometrists and 18,000 pharmacists in more than 3,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations nationwide. In 2015, he led the nationwide implementation of a vision insurance plan for Walmart employees. He began his career as an optometrist practicing in eastern Nebraska and then southwest Wisconsin. Helping people — particularly children — to see better is one of his passions. “Being able to put a pair of glasses on a child that has never really seen the world before is awesome,” he said. 
What is the market like for vision coverage in Iowa? 

With Iowa’s low unemployment rate, you’ve got to start differentiating yourself to get the talent. And I think that’s where we offer the plans that will help. If you don’t have vision insurance, and your competitor does, that puts you at a disadvantage. And that education is getting out there. And then we’re educating [employers] on what they can do with that vision insurance, how it can save you money. Each employee that has and utilizes their vision insurance can be worth $700 to $800 per person [in annual benefit value]. That’s a big return on investment for employers as well. So I think as we educate even more, you’ll see that get even more competitive from an employer’s standpoint; they’ll understand they really need to provide it. 

How do you see your role? 

[Delta Dental] built the base before I got here; I can’t take credit for that. But I’m able to just take it to that next level to build a larger provider network. … I’m going to be at the Iowa Optometric Association talking to doctors there. Having the letters [O.D. — doctor of optometry] behind your name is extremely helpful, and a lot of the providers already know me, so the trust factor is already there. We’re going to have some really nice [benefits] that we’re going to add that I think the groups will be extremely happy with.

What are some examples of expanded benefits coming? 

We’ve opened up some of the networks we’re rolling out for 2020. Some new coinsurance options are benefit options where employers can choose different copays and types of benefits, like contact lens fitting and frame allowances. On the medical side we will have specific diabetic riders [for exams every six months] and riders for children [for another exam if their vision changes]. 

How is new medical technology playing a role in improving eye care? 

[We are] talking a lot about different technologies that we would like to use, not only for efficiencies [but also to improve care]. Artificial Intelligence is out there; now it’s able to do some things [for conditions such as dry eyes]. We all work way too many hours on a computer, and we don’t blink as often as we should when we’re working on a device, so our eyes dry out faster. That’s one thing where we can use technology to actually help people. A lot of my work in consulting in the last four years was about using telehealth. If we drive more people to get vision exams, there won’t be enough doctor time to see them all, so maybe there are ways to increase the efficiency, maybe through a patient portal to take care of some things before you get to the doctor, to save time for both you and the doctor. 

What’s your goal for expanding DeltaVision enrollment? 

I think we’re at a point where we probably will be able to double the lives that we take care of. And then, you know, along with that I want high utilization within that group, so that they’re using their vision plan, so that we can help in all the other ways that we’ve already talked about.

What are you passionate about? 

My passions really come down to eyes, kids and sports. [DeltaVision] does a lot with kids, of course. … Eighty percent of learning for children is visual. If you don’t have that eye exam to know at least that your child is on a level playing field, you’re giving them a disadvantage, especially if they do develop an eye problem. If there’s a reading problem because the eyes don’t team together and work properly [it can severely affect their reading ability], but if you catch it early, it’s not an issue. 

And sports? 

My dad was a football coach at Dallas Center-Grimes, and so he decided I was going to play football and track for him. Actually, I played four sports in high school, because it was small enough that you could. So I played football, wrestled, ran track and then played baseball. … I’ve coached all of my kids through their activities — Little League baseball for I don’t know how many summers. And now, I may actually within the next year to be able to start coaching my oldest grandson. When you start having kids early, you don’t always know that you’re going to be blessed later on in life.