Vision insurance is typically used to supplement other types of medical insurance policies to round out your coverage. A vision care plan helps minimize the costs of routine services not covered by your health plan, such as eye exams and prescription glasses. Some plans function similarly to regular medical insurance, while others act more like discount plans, reducing the cost of certain services. In general, discounts apply to common services, such as glasses and contacts, but some plans will offer reduced prices for LASIK or other elective vision correction surgeries.
What Vision Insurance Covers
Most vision plans pay at least a portion of the total cost for:
Basic preventive services, such as eye exams
Lens protection and other coatings for glasses, such as scratch resistant coating
Some plans also offer additional coverage options for daily disposable contacts or provide discounts for corrective eye surgery, such as LASIK or PRK.
What Is Not Covered
Vision insurance may not pay for eye care related to medical issues. However, your medical insurance often will. Make sure to discuss your coverage with your eye doctor or the office staff before agreeing to any treatment plans.
How Vision Insurance Works
There are a variety of types of vision insurance available. Typically, vision insurance exists as either a vision benefits package or a discount vision plan. Some plans will have a deductible, which is an out-of-pocket limit you must meet before your insurance takes effect.
Vision Benefits Package
This type of vision insurance typically involves paying an annual premium or membership fee as well as a relatively small co-pay. In return, you receive free eye care services and corrective lenses within a fixed dollar amount. If you exceed the set amount, you are responsible for covering the remainder of the costs.
Discount Vision Plan
With a discount plan, you also pay a annual premium or membership fee. However, in this type of insurance, you receive discounted rates rather than paying a co-pay.
How Much Does Vision Insurance Cost?
Vision insurance costs vary depending on a few factors, including the type of program and your state of residence. Many employers offer vision insurance as a benefit, similar to medical plans. The rates for some vision plans are relatively low. VSP, one of the largest providers of vision insurance, advertises rates as low as $13 per month on their website. It is beneficial to shop around before choosing a vision insurance plan to ensure you are receiving a fair rate.
Is a Vision Plan Worth It?
How important vision insurance is for you depends on your eye care needs. If you wear corrective lenses or deal with a condition such as glaucoma, a vision care plan will likely help you save money in the long run.
Generally, medical professionals recommend an eye exam every few years for individuals under 55. As you age, you will need to visit the eye doctor more often:
|Age||Frequency of Eye Exams|
|Ages 20 to 39||Every five to 10 years|
|Ages 40 to 54||Every to to four years|
|Ages 55 to 64||Every one to three years|
|Ages 65 and up||Every one to two years|
Individuals with poor vision or a family history of eye disease should also have more frequent exams. Even if you have perfect vision, you should be attending routine eye exams. During the exam, your eye doctor can detect hidden medical problems, such as signs of a stroke or diabetes. However, if you only need an eye exam every few years, you may not need vision insurance.
Understanding Your Benefits
If you are confused about your vision insurance plan, you can ask the staff at your eye doctor’s office to help you or call your provider directly. Often, the opticians who help you choose your glasses have an advanced understanding of different vision plans and can help you maximize your coverage.