Your Eyes Need Protection, Too
Some employers offer vision care insurance as an option or via a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). If your employer doesn’t, then you may want to consider purchasing private eye or vision care insurance. Here’s how to do that.
Before you start comparing plans on the market, though, make sure you take a careful assessment of your eye care needs and those of your family. Consider the following:
- Do you already wear corrective lenses?
- How often can you intend to have an eye exam?
- Do you have the financial resources to cover vision care without any coverage, or with very limited coverage?
- Do you have a history of eye disease in your family?
Benefit Plans vs. Discount Plans
First off, be certain you understand the distinction between a vision benefits strategy and a vision reduction plan.
With a vision benefits plan, you’ll pay a premium and the insurance company will give you a set of defined benefits which will include a network of eye care providers, deductibles, copays and a definition of what is and isn’t covered.
With a vision discount plan, there’s no real insurance involved. You are basically prepaying for discounts on future eye care purchases. Discount plans offer a listing of eye care providers who give discounts on corrective lenses and eye exams. Discount plans charge much less than benefits vision plans, but you’ll wind up paying more out of pocket.
Vision Insurance Checklist
When you are looking at buying vision care insurance, make a chart and compare at least 2 providers’ offerings. Ask the following questions of the providers and their agents:
- How often does the strategy cover the cost including dilation of your eyes to check for eye diseases?
- Does the plan cover all lens types: polycarbonate -index, progressive, etc.? Are extras like photochromic (Transitions) lenses and scratch-resistant coatings covered?
- How frequently does the plan cover the price of eyeglass frames? What is the limitation on cost? How often will the plan let you replace your lenses?
- Does the plan cover the cost of refractive eye surgery (LASIK or PRK) to correct vision? Most plans do not.
- Does the policy cover the cost of contact lenses?
- What is the annual premium? Your price will vary depending on your geographical area. An individual person can expect to pay a few hundred dollars per year for less than $100 for a vision reduction plan and a vision benefits plan. Family rates for a benefits plan are $300 to $600 a year and $200 a year for a discount strategy.
- What are the deductibles, co-payments and spending limitations?
- Are you limited to in-network suppliers or is it possible to see an out-of-network supplier, too?
- How does the insurance company resolve issues or disputes with a vision care provider?
- What is the annual premium? Your price will also fluctuate depending on where you live. Family rates for a benefits plan are around $300 to $600 a year and between $10 and 200 a year for a discount plan.
Vision Care Insurance is not for everyone, but it can make a lot of financial sense for families with a history of eye care needs and/or diseases of the eye.