According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14 million Americans have visual impairment – ??more than 80 percent could be corrected to good vision with refractive correction. Adequate vision is an essential and sometimes overlooked medical need when choosing a health insurance provider. Vision insurance may or may not be included in an employer health insurance plan or even individual health insurance plans.
For health packages that include vision plans, the vision insurance provided may not be enough coverage for you and your dependents. If that's the case, you have the option of purchasing a supplemental vision insurance policy.
A Vision insurance policy can help pay for eye care-related expenses such as annual routine eye exams, corrective vision wear, contact lens exams, corrective eye surgery and more. More eye insurance providers are beginning to expand vision benefits to the changing needs of policyholders and their families, such as eye surgery procedures to permanently correct a vision problem. Benefits and policy options vary by provider.
You can often receive the greatest savings by choosing to use an eye care provider that is listed in your preferred insurance carrier's (PPO) provider network. These “preferred providers” offer benefits and services at a discounted rate to participating vision plan Members. Many vision plans now offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) that allow you to use pre-tax dollars automatically deducted from your payroll check to help pay for the cost of vision care.>
You may want to discuss the benefits of such a plan with your tax preparer in advance to see if the plan makes sense for you. It is important to note that money deposited into an FSA cannot be carried over to the next year.
All insurance policies have listed exclusions, so read your policy carefully to find out what your vision insurance doesn't cover. Exclusions will vary based on the insurance company, but some of the more common policy exclusions include:
Just because these items may be excluded from your vision insurance policy doesn't mean coverage isn't available. You may be able to add coverage to your policy for these items through a policy endorsement (policy) at an additional premium. Check with an insurance representative if you have any questions about optional vision insurance coverage.
A vision discount plan offers a “flat discount” on vision services, including discounts for routine eye exams, certain surgical procedures, eyewear including eyeglasses, and contact lenses.>
You are responsible for paying the remaining balance of the cost of services after the discount is applied. An advantage of a discount vision plan compared to a traditional vision insurance policy is that your insurance premium will be lower. It is a great option to consider for families that are on a budget.
Vision insurance is relatively inexpensive coverage. On average, a vision insurance policy provided by your employer can cost as little as $3 per month. Individual insurance plans can run from $15-$75 dollars per month for individuals and families. With a vision insurance plan, you can expect lower copays, deductibles, and broader benefits. Typically, vision insurance plans will pay $15 toward an exam and $100-$120 for contacts or glasses. Without vision insurance of any kind, you can expect a routine exam at a cost of $50 to $100 depending on the provider. Eyeglass or contact lens prices start around $100 and can go up to $500 or more.
To get the most out of your vision insurance, you need to understand the benefits and services that are excluded. Also, some services are covered under a traditional health insurance plan, such as certain eye conditions and an unexpected eye injury, and you would not have to claim on your vision insurance policy. Read the policy language carefully. Some plans include benefits that expire annually, meaning if you don't use it, you lose it; Such as getting an annual routine eye exam done. If you have money in an FSA account, be sure to spend that money on eye care before it expires.
VSP Direct – VSP Direct is accepted by more than 36,000 vision care providers and is available through employer benefit packages or through the purchase of an individual vision insurance policy. Standard coverage includes a comprehensive plan for more eye care needs, like an annual eye exam and a choice of new contact lenses or prescription glasses every 12 months. VSP Direct also offers an allowance for LASIK procedures.
Eye Benefits – EyeBenefits is a different type of vision insurance coverage with an annual fee instead of a monthly premium you must pay. There is no limit to the number of times you can use the coverage during the year. The company will pay a percentage of the costs for routine eye care and procedures. You can purchase coverage for one to three years. Membership allows you to receive a discount of up to 20 percent on eyeglass exams and up to 30 percent on contact lens exams. The discount available will depend on the provider you use. The LASIK discount can be up to 50 percent depending on the provider. The EyeBenefit network consists of more than 12,000 locations, including popular locations like LensCrafters, VisionWorks and more.
America's Vision Plan: America's Vision Plan offers flat rate coverage instead of paying by percentage of the amount of vision care charges. The company is based in California and has been in business since 1986. It offers additional lens options when purchasing lenses and $190 towards the purchase of progressive lenses. Rates are reasonable; However, you can only choose one eye care provider with this plan.
Humana: Humana offers benefits at a flat rate. Premium rates are comparable to other top vision insurance providers and are charged as a monthly premium to policyholders. Discount glasses are available to Humana members through FramesDirect.com. Low fees for eye exams, annual eye frame replacements, low premiums and co-pay amounts make Humana a great option to consider when choosing a vision insurance policy. Aflac – Aflac is a well-known provider of supplemental insurance plans and offers vision insurance through your employer plan or through the purchase of an individual insurance policy. Aflac will pay a cash benefit annually for eye exams. Benefits are paid directly to the insured.
Blue Cross: Blue Cross offers a vision plan through EyeMed Vision Care. Members have access to more than 18,000 providers at 10,000 locations including optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians. Discounts through EyeMed Vision Care are attractive and can be up to 50 percent on eyeglass and vision services. Laser surgery is also available at a discounted rate. Members can get replacement contact lenses by mail service. Davis Vision – Davis Vision specializes in vision care and has several vision plan options to fit your own lifestyle and vision care needs. Transitions Signature lenses are available exclusively to Davis Vision members with a $65 copay. Through one of the available vision plans, you have coverage for annual eye exams, eyewear, Eye Health and Wellness Management, and eyewear occupational safety programs.
Vision insurance is most often offered as a supplemental policy to an existing health insurance plan. You can purchase vision insurance as an addition to your existing policy or as a stand-alone policy. Many policy options are available and can be customized to fit your family's vision insurance needs. If you decide to purchase vision insurance, read your policy carefully, including all vision insurance benefits and exclusions. If you are unsure about anything, consult an insurance company representative or your insurance agent to make sure you and your family have the proper eye care protection.