The word “vision insurance” is widely used to describe health and well being policies intended to minimize the cost of regular preventive eye treatment (eye examinations) and prescription eye wear (eye glasses and contact lenses). Some vision plans also provide discounts on elective vision correction surgery, such as LASIK and PRK.
Yet unlike traditional health insurance policies that can provide unlimited benefits after a certain amount of co-paid and deductible is met, most vision insurance plans are discount plans or wellness benefits plans that provide unique benefits and discounts for an annual premium.
In impact, these discounts on vision and health benefits plans provide savings comparable to a gift card. As such, they can be used to offset much of the expense of simple eye wear. In addition, they can be used to make luxury eye wear items and upgrades considerably more affordable . This includes revolutionary lenses, anti-reflective coating, and photochromic lenses.
Be sure to better appreciate the costs and benefits associated with the plan(s) you find when buying “vision insurance.” And, be mindful that “eye insurance” policies typically function differently from most health insurance programs. This is if you have vision care coverage through a contract at work.
It’s also a good idea to ask the business staff at your eye doctor’s office to inform you prior to your test and eyewear purchase so there are no surprises afterwards.
Having said that, in this article we will use “vision insurance” as a generic term to cover wellness and discount policies that provide vision benefits, as well as more conventional health and medical policies that provide vision benefits as well as coverage for eye disorders and diseases and eye injury care.
Where can I Get Vision Insurance?
You may receive community vision insurance through your business, organization, school district. In addition this could also be through government services such as Medicare or Medicaid. Unless, if you are self-employed or for certain reasons, you are not eligible for a community contract. Most vision insurance companies do sell plans that you can buy individually.
Vision coverage is also a value-added option related to health insurance coverage, health care organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) that have agreed to provide eye care services through regulated vision care networks.
Indemnity health insurance
Traditional health insurance which gives policyholders access to their choice of medical providers.
- An HMO is a group of health care providers— doctors, clinics, hospitals, and the like — who are working to offer subsidized levels of health care for plan participants. HMO providers typically allow program members to access health services (including vision treatment) only.
- A PPO is a network of health care providers designed to deliver healthcare services to members of the insurance program at a fixed cost lower than retail rates. Plan members can elect to access providers outside of the network, but typically at a higher cost.
When you buy a vision plan, you receive the following benefits:
- Access to a network of suppliers, including optometrists and ophthalmologists, eye wear shops, optical laboratories and LASIK surgeons.
- Routine, preventive eye care services at reduced rates
What kinds of vision insurance plans are available?
Vision insurance usually takes the form of either a bundle of eye benefits or a discount vision plan.
A vision benefits plan usually offers free eye care and eye wear services in fixed dollar amounts. This is in exchange for an annual subscription and a fairly low co-pay each time you use a service.
On the other hand, a discount vision package offers eye care and eye wear at reduced rates after you pay an annual premium or membership fee.
In some cases, a vision benefits package or discount vision plan may also include a “deductible”. This is a fixed dollar amount you must pay your eye care provider out-of-pocket before the insurance benefits take effect.
All forms of vision insurance can be customized to meet the needs of a wide variety of consumers including school districts, employers and large and small businesses.
Vision programs typically cover the following goods and services, or offer discounts:
- Annual eye examinations
- Eyeglass frames
- Eyeglass lenses (including lens coatings and enhancements)
- Contact lenses
- Discounted rates for LASIK and PRK
Also, reputable vision coverage plans should provide quality control and customer satisfaction programs. This is to address your questions and help you overcome any issues or concerns in your plan’s network.
What does vision insurance cost?
Costs for vision insurance differ according to how the policy is structured. Costs can also differ depending on the state of residence.
As a general example, Vision Service Plan (VSP), the largest vision coverage provider in the U.S., lists the following cost savings associated with an individual’s average VSP vision coverage compared to purchasing an eye exam and eyewear without vision coverage.
Doing comparison search with many vision insurance companies is a smart idea. This is to ensure that you get the best deal for the eye care coverage you want. You should expect to be billed weekly or annually if you buy an individual vision plan if you are self-employed or your company does not provide vision insurance.