In the US alone, a 2012 CDC report shows that 4.2 million adults aged 40 years and older experience uncorrectable vision impairment. It’s projected to double by 2050 to 8.96 million due to widespread diabetes and other chronic diseases afflicting a large part of the population.
Despite the risk, many adults neglect the need for vision insurance plans until it is considered too late. What’s vision insurance, and how does it differ from general health plans? Here’s what you need to know about this specialized type of coverage and how to find the right one for your eyes – and your wallet.
What Is Vision Insurance?
Vision insurance is a term used for health insurance plans designed to reduce the cost of all exams, procedures, and treatments related to our eyes. Unlike general medical policies – which require copays and deductibles to be paid in full – vision plans offer savings and discounts. This allows expensive eye products and procedures to be significantly more affordable.
Who Needs Vision Insurance
You may be wondering whether you need eye coverage – especially if you already have a health insurance plan in place. You and your family may benefit from this if:
- Anyone in the family requires ongoing eye care, eyewear, or services aside from annual optical exams
- Services like corrective lenses and eye exams are excluded from your plan
- Your or your family have a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or other conditions that may increase your risk of eye disease
Keep in mind that if you don’t require anything beyond a routine checkup, vision insurance may not be cost-efficient. Consult with your doctor about any risk factors. Then, you can determine if you need additional coverage.
What Services Does Vision Insurance Cover
Vision coverage may be customized to serve a wide range of customers, groups, or companies. While how much it covers and what it offers, these plans often cover or discount:
- Basic preventive care such as eye exams and vision tests
- Prescription eyewear such as eyeglass lenses, frames, or contact lenses
- Lens protection for glasses (coating, enhancements, etc.)
- Discounts on daily disposable contact lens
- Price reductions on corrective eye surgery such as Lasik and PRK
Types Of Vision Insurance
Since this kind of coverage is meant to reinforce an already existing health care plan, it focuses on making eye products and services more affordable. The type of insurance you want will depend on whether you prefer fixed or discounted prices. Vision coverage comes in two forms:
Vision Benefits Package
This package offers free eye care services and eyewear in exchange for a fixed annual and a small copay every time you use a service. This option is ideal if you know you’ll often need their services and want to know how much you’ll pay each time.
Discount Vision Plan
As the name suggests, this plan offers services at a discounted rate after you pay your annual premium. In both plans, you may also be required to pay a deductible for your insurance to come into effect.
Where To Shop For Vision Insurance
There are a few ways you can obtain vision coverage for you and your family. Here are some ways you can receive coverage:
- Group coverage through a school district or an employer
- Government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid
- Indemnity health insurance, where you can receive additional care through an HMO or PPO network
It’s important to remember that vision coverage varies at different costs and coverages. For instance, your employer’s insurance may be cheaper, but it may not cover as much as a broader vision plan would. Shop around and compare prices to get the best plan for less.
Consult with your optician and keep up to date with your health assessments to determine what kind of services and plan is right for you. If you don’t fall in a risk group, don’t need any treatment or corrective devices, it’s possible to pay only for your annual exams. Consider your age, lifestyle, medical history, and other factors before selecting your plan and preventative care.