Vision Insurance Plans

A vision insurance plan may help you pay for expensive eye exams, glasses and contacts. While most vision plans do not cover the cost of corrective eye surgery, a vision insurer may offer you a discount for the procedure. Thus, a vision plan may be worthwhile for a variety of reasons. Most plans simply offer benefits and discounts for eye care products and exams.

This is different from full-coverage health insurance providers, which may offer vision benefits once you reach your copayment and deductible limits. Either way, you will be able to use your vision insurance to pay for the majority of your eyewear and examination costs. This usually includes refills on contacts and upgrades to your glasses.

For instance, you may consider purchasing progressive lenses, anti-reflective coating or photochromic lenses. It is worthwhile for vision insurers to offer these features at discounted prices because they may prevent you from developing other eye issues.

It is important to compare the costs of different vision insurance plans before you purchase one, because you may save a great deal of money. In addition, you may want to customize a plan so that it is family oriented or covers more of the benefits that you deem important.

Be sure to speak with your eye doctor before you sign a plan, as he or she may offer advice or inform you of which insurance carriers are accepted by that vision center. This knowledge will help you make a cost-effective decision. In addition, be sure to read through the terms and conditions of the plan you select before signing so that you do not receive unexpected fees.

To learn more about buying vision insurance, medical plans that offer supplemental vision discounts, coverage options and more, continue reading below.

Adding Vision Insurance to Your Existing Plan

If you work for a large company, firm, association or school district, you may receive group vision insurance directly through your company’s health coverage plan. You typically must pay a higher premium each month, because vision insurance is considered supplemental healthcare.

Unfortunately, you may not qualify for group insurance if you are self-employed or work as an independent contractor. You may, however, receive group insurance as an individual if you enroll in Medicare or Medicaid, which are nationwide health insurance programs.

In effect, it does not matter if you are self-employed or unemployed when you apply. Keep in mind that you may enroll your entire family in Medicaid, but Medicare is more of an individualized plan. In addition, you must meet the income or age requirements to qualify for either of these programs.

In general, vision insurance is considered a value-added benefit. It gets added to indemnity health insurance, a health maintenance organization or a preferred provider organization, depending on the main coverage you have. Indemnity health insurance typically does not require you to visit in-network doctors, which means you will have more choice in the doctors you visit.

If you are part of a health maintenance organization (HMO) instead, you may need to go to a provider in-network. HMO plans only allow you to visit doctors, laboratories, wellness centers and more that are part of the network in order to receive discounts on your insurance.

In contrast, a preferred provider organization (PPO) allows you to visit doctors who are out-of-network, though you may be required to pay more on your premium or copayments. PPO plans will try and entice you to visit in-network doctors with lower rates and discounts.

Important Features of Vision Insurance

Vision insurance plans are typically offered as supplemental coverage by means of a vision benefits package or a discount vision plan. In general, you will be able to receive some services free of charge and other benefits at discounted rates. For instance, vision exams are typically free while glasses and contacts are discounted.

Regardless of whether this insurance is considered a benefits package or a discount plan, you will be required to pay a premium or membership fee, along with copayments depending on the services you receive. You may also have a deductible on your vision insurance plan.

As with the deductible on your health insurance, you must pay up to the deductible amount before your insurance can pay for the services you use. In addition, your plan may be altered depending on which benefits you want. Vision plans usually fully or partly cover the following:

  • Yearly eye examinations
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Eyeglass lenses
  • Eyeglass lens scratch-resistant and glare-resistant coatings
  • Weekly or daily contact lenses
  • Certain discounts for LASIK surgery and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)

If you receive health insurance through a company, school district, union or a similarly large group, the amount of flexibility in your vision insurance may be limited. Once your vision insurance is activated, be sure to contact your service provider with any questions you may have about coverage or disputes over charges, benefits or doctors in your network.

What is the cost of vision insurance?

The cost of your vision insurance plan will vary depending on your health insurance provider, the type of program you have, the number of family members on your plan and certain other factors. In general, you may pay less if you receive coverage through a job-based health plan.

You may pay more if you are the only person on your plan and purchase it directly through your provider. Costs may also vary depending on your state. Fortunately, vision insurance premiums are relatively small in comparison to a standard health insurance premium.

If you spend money on eye exams and corrective lenses each year, a vision plan may be worthwhile. Without it, you may end up spending around $200 for one eye exam. In contrast, your copayment may be around $10 with insurance. Keep in mind, however, that there may be initial fees to sign up for insurance and fees to use group vision coverage.

To make sure that a plan is worth it, calculate the amount you think you will spend on eye care each year compared to the amount you will spend in fees and premiums.