Why vision insurance is worth it, even if you don't need glasses
Even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts, it’s a good idea to get vision insurance.
Vision insurance covers all or most of the cost of an annual eye exam, and comprehensive eye exams are necessary for much more than checking whether current eyeglass/corrective lens prescriptions are correct. They are also the first line of defense when it comes to catching eye disease or injury.
For example, your eye doctor may find signs of conditions that may have otherwise gone undetected, including diabetes, glaucoma, high cholesterol and some forms of cancer. Your eye exam is also how your eye doctor assesses your vision to determine whether you need glasses, contact lenses or vision surgery. While your vision may be satisfactory now, quality of vision can diminish at any point in life.
Who needs vision insurance?
People of any age or level of eye health can benefit from having vision insurance, and your coverage can apply to more than just you.
Covering your spouse and children can multiply your annual savings on those important regular eye exams, as well as on eyewear. If you or your family need glasses or contacts, your vision insurance will cover a big chunk of those costs.
Another reason why even the healthiest eyes can benefit from vision insurance is that injuries or ailments of the eye are fairly expensive to treat without insurance.
The cost of out-of-pocket visits to an ophthalmologist are well over what you would pay for a year’s worth of monthly vision insurance premiums. Not to mention the peace of mind provided when you are able to stay on top of your and your family's eye health with little to no out-of-pocket costs.
Do I need vision insurance for my baby?
In our guide to vision insurance for children, we note that within the first year, your baby should be screened three times to assess vision and eye development. During regular well-child visits, a pediatrician will perform the screening by shining a light in the child’s eyes to check pupillary reaction and eye alignment. If any problems are spotted, you’ll be referred to an eye care professional that specializes in pediatrics.
Catching these vision problems while your child is still a baby can assure that the issue is treated quickly and monitored closely throughout your child’s development.
Vision insurance and ophthalmologist care
If you encounter any serious eye health issues, you will likely be referred by your primary care physician to an ophthalmologist. Unlike an optometrist, whose primary focus is to assess your vision acuity and prescribe corrective lenses if needed, an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who handles more potentially serious issues surrounding eye health.
For some, their health insurance can work in tandem with their vision insurance to cover the costs of ophthalmologist visits and treatments. You should reach out to your health insurance and vision insurance providers for up-to-date information on what is covered by each when it comes to ophthalmologist care.
What is covered by vision insurance?
Many vision insurance plans include allowances or discounts for photochromic lenses, scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings, and other lens upgrades. Some vision plans also offer discounts on elective vision correction surgery, such as LASIK and PRK.
The services, products and procedures covered by vision insurance can vary greatly depending on the provider. For example, some vision insurance plans differ in copay amounts, eye exam tests (retinal scan may not be included) and how often you can use your benefits to get glasses or contacts.
That is why your first step when evaluating vision insurance plans is to take an assessment of what vision needs you or your family have. Some vision insurance plans offer different levels of coverage and premiums depending on those needs.
How much does vision insurance cost?
While the price of vision insurance varies based on how comprehensive the plan is, most employers who provide vision insurance try to keep premiums around the range of $5-$15 per month. Some employers may even cover some part of those monthly premiums themselves.
This is when your assessment of your vision needs come into play. You or your family will need yearly eye exams to maintain eye health. If there is also a need for glasses, contact lenses or prescription sunglasses, the out-of-pocket cost for those products will add up quickly. For most people, the monthly cost of vision insurance is much lower than the price of paying for these vision products and services without coverage.
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Page published in April 2020
Page updated in March 2022