What are the Costs and Benefits of Vision Insurance?

We offer a variety of plans to fit your individual and group needs

Vision insurance is a way to reduce eye care expenses. In exchange for a monthly premium, the plan picks up some of the costs of vision care.

Vision insurance is different from a vision discount plan, which offers discounts on vision care. Typically, vision discount plans cost less per year than vision insurance, but you pay more for visits and eyewear than you would with insurance.

Most adults need vision correction: 66% of Americans 18 and over report using glasses, contacts or both, according to the National Eye Institute. Depending on how often you need new lenses or eye exams, getting vision insurance may be a smart financial choice.

Here’s more about vision insurance, including how to decide if you or your family needs a plan.

Vision plans often pay at least a portion of:

  • Basic preventive care such as eye exams and vision tests.
  • Eyeglass lenses.
  • Contact lenses.
  • Eyeglass frames.
  • Lens protection for glasses, such as scratch-resistant coating.

Many vision insurance plans have additional options for coverage, such as:

  • Daily disposable contact lens coverage.
  • Discounts on corrective eye surgery such as Lasik.

Vision insurance may not pay for eye care related to medical issues. If your optometrist finds medical problems during your vision exam, he or she would refer you to a medical eye doctor such as an ophthalmologist. Although vision insurance may not cover medical services for your eyes, health insurance often does.

Vision insurance costs

Many employers offer vision insurance as a benefit.

If you don’t have access to vision insurance at work, you might be able to find it for less than $20 per month. Humana offers vision insurance plans starting at $16 to $18 per month.

In addition to a monthly premium, you’ll likely pay a portion of costs for visits, exams, and glasses or contacts. Typically, the higher your monthly premium, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket for these services.

Where to find vision insurance

You can buy individual or family vision plans through many of the same websites from which you buy health insurance. As you shop:
Make sure the provider offers plans in your area, which you typically can do by entering your ZIP code.

Use the provider directory to make sure the plan covers your preferred vision specialist or to find one near you.
If you need an eye exam, contacts or glasses soon, choose a plan that doesn’t have a waiting period.

Many insurers offer vision plans alongside dental insurance, so check for combination plans if you need both types

Who needs vision insurance

Because eye exams can detect hidden medical problems, even those with perfect vision shouldn’t skip them. As you age, you’ll need more frequent vision exams, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Recommended eye exam frequency for adults
Source: Mayo Clinic
Ages 20-39 Every five to 10 years
Ages 40-54 Every two to four years
Ages 55-64 Every one to three years
Ages 65+ Every one to two years

People with poor vision, a family history of eye disease or a condition that increases the risk of eye disease, such as diabetes, should have more frequent exams.

If routine exams are all you need, the cost of insurance might not be worth it. Take a look at the cost for one year of vision insurance compared with the cost of an eye exam. This is a hypothetical look at a year’s worth of preventive care only, assuming your insurance pays 100% for vision exams, as many do.

If you don’t need glasses or other corrective treatment, you can pay out of pocket when that routine exam is due and avoid paying for vision insurance. If you do need corrective lenses in addition to preventive care, you’re probably better off with the insurance.

Lacie Glover is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.

Vision FAQs

Are there payment options?2018-07-08T02:55:02-06:00

If group vision insurance is available from your employer, you pay for it through payroll deductions or flexible spending accounts.

A flexible spending account, sometimes referred to as a cafeteria plan, allows an employee to use pre-tax dollars to purchase selected health benefits such as vision insurance. This plan saves your money because you receive the full benefit of income that has been set aside for health costs, making it not subject to or reduced by taxation.

If you are self -employed or if your employer does not offer vision insurance then you can expect to be billed monthly or annually.

What is included in vision insurance?2018-07-08T02:53:53-06:00

Standard Vision insurance usually includes the following services and products:

  • LASIK and PRK vision correction at discounted rates
  • Annual eye examinations
  • Contact lenses
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Eyeglass lenses

Usually, services acquired from network providers are more affordable than services from out-of-network providers.

What Types of Vision Insurance Plans Are Available?2018-07-08T02:52:29-06:00

Vision insurance comes in two forms, a discount vision plan or a vision benefits package.

Discount Vision Plan – Eyecare at fixed discounted rates after an annual premium or membership fee and a deductible are paid.

Vision Benefits Package – Usually, a vision benefits package requires an annual premium or membership fee, a yearly deductible for each enrolled member and a co-pay each time a member accesses a service.

Discount vision plans and vision benefits packages are custom-designed to meet the different requirements of a wide range of customers, such as unions, big, mid-size and small companies and school districts.

How and Where Does One Obtain Vision Insurance?2018-07-08T02:51:31-06:00

Individuals can buy a vision benefit plan. Vision insurance plans may be available through your place of employment, school district or through social plans like Medicare or Medicaid.

Indemnity health insurance is traditional insurance, which allows policyholders to access medical providers of their choice. Vision insurance is often a value-added benefit included in indemnity health insurance plans, health maintenance organization (HMO) plans and plans offered by preferred provider organizations (PPOs).

An HMO health plan requires its members to access health care only from HMO providers. HMOs provide health care services to plan members at discounted rates. HMOs include a range of healthcare professionals – doctors, laboratories, and hospitals.

A PPO is a network of healthcare professionals who provide health care services to the membership at discounted rates. Plan members may use out-of-network providers, but they usually will pay more for the services rendered.

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