iQuanti: Did you know that glasses and contact lenses aren't typically covered by medical insurance, despite being an essential aspect of healthcare for many people?
That's why insurance companies offer optional vision insurance plans intended to help offset out-of-pocket costs for vision care. If you're reviewing vision insurance options, it's important to understand what to look for in vision insurance plans and how to choose the best plan for you.
What Does a Vision Insurance Plan Cover?
Most vision plans provide coverage for certain services at a fixed cost. For example, a vision insurance plan might cover
But as with most medical and dental plans, vision insurance may require you to pay a premium or make a co-pay before the benefits kick in.
Most basic vision plans will cover:
- Vision testing and annual eye exams
- Eyeglass frames and lenses and lens protection (like scratch-resistant coating)
- Contact lenses
And some more extensive policies could also cover various lens options, like high-index or progressive, and some corrective eye surgery procedures for disorders, like cataracts and glaucoma.
While vision insurance is provided through an insurance company, vision discount plans are not insurance, though they may still be backed by an insurance company. There are several key differences between vision insurance and vision discount plans, including:
- How frequently you pay: While vision insurance requires a monthly premium payment, vision discount plans charge an annual membership fee. Using the discount plan, you can then access services at a discounted rate throughout the year.
- How much the plan costs: Vision discount plans tend to be less expensive than vision insurance. But the price you pay out-of-pocket for expenses is typically greater.
- Cost of services: Vision insurance may require you to pay a co-pay or deductible before the vision plan pays its part. With a vision discount plan, you pay for the services in full but at a discounted price.
Comparing Vision Insurance Plans
There are several factors to consider when comparing vision insurance plans.
- Cost: As with other benefits like medical or dental, your employer may foot the bill for vision coverage, or you may need to pay extra from your paycheck each month. While vision plans are generally low-cost, be sure to multiply the monthly premium by 12 to understand how much you'll pay throughout the year.
- In-network providers: Certain plans will only provide vision coverage if you visit a specific practitioner or one in the plan's network. Before committing to a plan, check that your preferred eye doctor or vision center will be covered.
- What your family needs: If everyone in your family has perfect vision, you'll be shopping for a different plan than if all of your kids have prescription lenses and contacts. Compare the best rates for the services you plan to use the most and steer clear of plans that offer coverage above and beyond what you'll need and use.
The Bottom Line
Choosing an appropriate vision insurance plan is crucial to eye health. And the plans can help offset out-of-pocket costs associated with vision care. When comparing vision insurance plans, be sure to check out factors like cost, coverage amount, and in-network providers. But most of all, base your plan choice on what your family will actually use. Doing so means you won't end up paying more than your vision insurance plan is worth.