According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14 million Americans have a visual impairment — more than 80 percent have been corrected to good vision with refractive correction. Proper vision is an essential medical necessity and one that is sometimes overlooked when choosing a health insurer.
Vision insurance may or may not be included in employer health insurance or even in individual health insurance plans. For health packages that include Vision plans, Vision Insurance may not provide enough coverage for you and your dependents. If that’s the case, you have the option of purchasing supplemental vision insurance. Vision insurance can keep your out-of-pocket expenses for things like routine eye care and other expenses including glasses or LASIK procedures.
Benefits of vision insurance and policy options
A vision insurance policy can help you cover the costs associated with eye care such as routine annual eye exams, vision correction wear, contact lens exams, corrective eye surgery, and more. More eye insurance providers are beginning to expand vision benefits for the changing needs of policyholders and their families such as eye surgery procedures to permanently correct a vision problem. Benefits and policy options vary by carrier. You can often get the biggest savings by choosing to use an eye care provider that is listed in your insurance company’s Preferred Provider (PPO) network.
These “Preferred Providers” offer benefits and services at a discounted price to participating Vision Plan members.
Many vision plans now offer Flexible Expense Accounts (FSA) that allow you to cash in before taxes that are automatically deducted from your billing check to help pay for vision care expenses.
You may want to discuss the benefits of such a plan with your accountant beforehand to see if the plan makes sense for you. It is important to note that money deposited into an FSA cannot carry over into the next year.
Common Vision Insurance Exclusions
All insurance policies have exclusions listed so you should read your policy carefully to know what your Vision insurance does not cover. Exclusions will vary based on the insurance company, but some of the more common policy exclusions are:
- Eye exams during a hospital stay
- contact lens exam
- LASIK and similar corrective vision procedures
- Light sensitive lenses
- vision therapy
- glasses coloring
- Replacement of lost or stolen prescription lenses or frames
Just because these items may be excluded from your Vision insurance does not mean that coverage is unavailable. You may be able to add coverage to your policy for these items through a policy endorsement (Policy Rider) at an additional premium. Check with an insurance agent if you have any doubts about the available optional vision insurance coverage.
Vision discount plans
A Vision Discount Plan offers a “flat discount” on vision services, typically discounts for routine eye exams, certain surgical procedures, eyewear including glasses and contact lenses, and more.
You are responsible for paying the balance of the cost of the Services after the discount has been applied. One benefit of a vision discount plan compared to traditional vision insurance is that your insurance premium will be lower. It’s a great option to consider for families who are on a budget.
The cost of vision care with and without insurance
Vision insurance is a relatively inexpensive coverage. On average, vision insurance provided by your employer can cost as little as $3 a month. Individual insurance plans can run from $15-$75 dollars per month for individuals and families. With a Vision insurance plan, you can expect lower co-payments, deductibles, and broader benefits. Typically, vision insurance plans pay $15 toward an exam and $100-$120 for contact lenses or glasses.
Without vision insurance of any kind, you can expect a routine exam to cost anywhere from $50 to $100 dollars depending on the provider. Eyeglass or contact lens prices start around $100 and can go up to $500 or more.
Getting the most out of your vision insurance
To get the most value from your vision insurance, you should exclude the benefits and services offered that are excluded. Also, some services are covered under traditional health insurance such as certain eye diseases and an unexpected eye injury and would not need to be claimed on your vision insurance policy. Read the policy language carefully. Some plans include benefits that expire annually, meaning that if you don’t use it, you lose it; Performed as an annual routine eye exam is performed. If you have money deposited in an FSA account, make sure to spend the money on eye care before it expires.
10 insurance companies with vision insurance
- VSP Direct: Accepted by more than 36,000 Vision Care Providers, VSP Direct is available through Employer Benefits Packages or by purchasing an individual Vision Insurance policy. Standard coverage includes a comprehensive plan for more eye care needs like an annual eye exam and the choice of new contact lenses or prescription glasses every 12 months. VSP Direct also offers an allowance for LASIK procedures.
- EyeMed insurance: EyeMed insurance is another type of vision insurance coverage with an annual fee instead of a monthly premium that you have to pay. There is no limit to the number of times you can use the cover during the year. The company pays a percentage of the cost of routine eye care and procedures. You can buy coverage from one to three years. Membership gives you a discount of up to 20 percent on eyeglass exams and up to 30 percent on contact lens exams. The discount depends on the provider you use. Depending on the provider, the LASIK discount can be up to 50 percent. The EyeBenefit network consists of more than 12,000 locations, including popular locations such as LensCrafters, VisionWorks and many more. A consequence is
- Vision Plan of America: Vision Plan of America offers flat rate coverage instead of paying a percentage of the amount of the fee for vision care. The company is based in California and has been in business since 1986. It offers additional lens options when buying glasses and $190 when buying progressive lenses. prices are reasonable; However, you can only choose one eye care provider with this plan.
- Humana: Humana offers services on a flat-rate basis. Premium rates are comparable to other Top Vision insurers and are charged as a monthly premium to policyholders. Discount eyewear is available to Humana policyholders through FramesDirect.com. Low eye exam prices, annual eye frame replacements, low premiums and copay amounts make Humana a good option to consider when choosing a vision insurance policy. Humana’s Vision Focus Plan charges a one-time enrollment fee.
- Aflac: Aflac is a well-known provider of supplemental insurance plans and offers vision insurance through your employer plan or through the purchase of an individual insurance policy. Aflac pays an annual cash benefit for eye exams. Benefits are paid directly to the policyholder. Benefits, limitations, and exclusions vary by state, but on average, Aflac will pay $45 for eye exams and $175 for new glasses.
- UnitedHealthcare: Vision Insurance from UnitedHealthcare is underwritten by the Golden Rule Insurance Company. There is no waiting and coverage is available for all ages. You can save if you use one of the preferred providers, but coverage is also available if you use an out-of-network vision care provider. Eye exam co-pay amount is $10 and discounts are available for laser eye surgery. Vision insurance is available as a tab to a dental plan, but standalone vision insurance is available in certain states.
- Aetna: Aetna provides vision insurance nationwide through its network of thousands of independent agents. It is a preferred provider of vision insurance for federal employees. Plan features and availability vary by state. Aetna Vision policyholders receive additional savings when staying on the network on vision care services including a retinal imaging discount, LASIK eye surgery discount, 40 percent off your second pair of glasses and other exclusive discounts and coupons available only to Aetna members.
- Blue Cross: Blue Cross offers a vision plan through EyeMed Vision Care. Members have access to more than 18,000 providers in 10,000 locations including optometrists, ophthalmologists and optometrists. Discounts through EyeMed Vision Care are attractive and can be up to 50 percent on eyewear and eye care services. Laser surgery is also available at a discounted price. Members can use the replacement lens by mail.
- Davis Vision: Davis Vision specializes in vision care and has several vision plan options to fit your own lifestyle and vision care needs. Transitions Signature lenses are available exclusively to Davis Vision members with a $65 co-pay. Through any of the vision plans available, you have coverage for annual eye exams, glasses, eye health & Wellness management and occupational safety eyewear programs. The Affinity Discount program offers significant discounts and exams and glasses.
- Ameritas: Ameritas offers vision insurance through employer plans or as an individual vision insurance policy and offers network access to two of the largest vision providers; VSP and EyeMed. The 20/20 Plus plan for individuals and families allows you to choose your own provider but offers savings on frames and lenses purchased from
Final Thoughts and Considerations on Choosing a Vision Insurance Provider
Vision insurance is most commonly offered as a supplemental policy to existing health insurance. You can buy vision insurance as a supplement to your existing policy or as a stand alone policy. Many policy options are available and can be customized to fit your family vision insurance needs. If you decide to buy Vision insurance, read your policy very carefully, including all Vision insurance benefits and exclusions. If you are unsure, contact an insurance agent or your insurance agent to make sure you and your family have the right view care coverage.