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5 tips for getting the most from your Blue Cross Blue Shield vision insurance

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What is Blue Cross Blue Shield?

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a major health insurance provider, including Blue Cross Blue Shield vision insurance. BCBS vision insurance covers a vision network of more than 117,000 providers and several top vision care chains. A BCBS vision plan can help save money on eye exams and eyewear.

Even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts, a Blue Cross vision insurance plan can still help you and your family stay on top of your overall eye health with routine eye exams. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers family and individual vision insurance plans, as well as employer-sponsored group plans.

Does my state offer Blue Cross Blue Shield vision insurance?

Not all states offer Blue Cross Blue Shield vision insurance. It’s important to note that benefits and prices of BCBS vision insurance plans vary, depending on where you live and the type of plan. Cost and benefits of individual vs. employer-sponsored plans may also differ among plans.

To find out which Blue Cross Blue Shield company provides health insurance in your state, visit the BCBS website. Select the BCBS company for your state to search for information about vision plans and pricing. If your employer offers a Blue Cross Blue Shield vision insurance plan, contact your human resources department to learn more about plan details.

If you have a Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan, here are 5 ways to get the most from your vision plan benefits.

1. Understand what your vision plan covers

The first step to getting the most from your BCBS vision insurance benefits is knowing what your vision plan covers. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers several levels of vision plans, and most BCBS vision plans include at least one annual eye exam each year. 

Depending on the plan, benefits may also include:

With your BCBS vision plan, you may have to pay a small copay — $10 or $15, for example — on lenses for glasses. You may also pay more if you exceed your plan’s frames or contacts allowance. 

For example, the BCBS 2022 FEP Vision plan for federal employees covers frames from the BCBS FEP Exclusive Collection. However, if you buy frames from another provider, the FEP vision plan has a $140 frame allowance. If you opt for contacts instead of glasses, you receive an allowance for  contact lenses of up to $130. If you exceed those amounts, you’ll still receive a discount on charges over the allowance.

Carefully review your Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan benefits. Then make sure you’re taking advantage of all benefits designed to save money on eyewear, contact lenses and services.

2. Make an appointment for an eye exam

Schedule your annual eye exam covered by your plan as soon as you can. That way, you get an early start on getting the most from your Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan benefits.

With a comprehensive eye exam, an eye doctor will examine your eyes to see if you need glasses or contact lenses. If you already wear glasses or contacts, the doctor will check your vision to see if you need a new prescription. But the benefits of an eye exam extend further than just eyewear or contact lenses.

During the exam, the eye doctor also examines your eyes for signs of certain eye-related medical conditions and diseases. Your eye doctor can detect cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, for example. 

An eye doctor may also notice signs of other serious medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure during an eye exam.

Make an appointment for the eye exam covered by your Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan right away. Routine eye exams are essential to both your vision and your eye health. 

SEE RELATED: How often should you get your eyes checked?

3. Upgrade eyewear with vision plan discounts

Once you’re enrolled in a Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan, start using your plan’s benefits right away. In addition to your vision plan’s annual eye exam, your plan may offer discounts and special promotions to help you save money. 

For example, if you want to get prescription sunglasses, your plan might offer a discount that makes quality sunglasses more affordable.

Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a pair of expensive frames that were out of your price range. Or maybe you suffer from dry eyes or headaches when staring at a computer screen for hours at a time. If that’s the case, your BCBS vision plan may help you buy a pair of computer glasses to ease eye strain. 

Basic computer glasses are generally affordable. If you want high-end frames, multifocal lenses or progressive lenses, your vision plan can go a long way toward lowering the cost. 

4. Use an in-network provider

With a Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan, choosing an in-network provider usually costs less than if you use an out-of-network provider. 

If your plan’s benefits aren’t covered when using an out-of-network provider, find an in-network provider to save money and get the most from your vision insurance benefits.

To find an in-network BCBS vision plan provider, search your vision plan’s provider locator online.

5. Don’t miss out on member discounts

With a BCBS vision plan, you can save on frames, lenses and contact lenses. But your plan might also offer additional perks and discounts that are often easily overlooked. 

For example, depending on the plan, you may be able to save up to $800 on laser and other eye surgeries. Some BCBS vision plans offer extra benefits for kids, like free impact-resistant or transition lenses.

If you’re a member of the 2022 FEP federal vision plan, a second in-network vision care exam and a second set of eyeglasses for children aged 13 and under will be covered. 

The second in-network eye exam and eyeglasses benefit also covers adults with the following conditions:

  • Diabetes 

  • High blood pressure

  • Pregnancy

  • Kidney disease

  • Dementia

  • Head and neck cancer patients going through radiation therapy

Review your BCBS vision plan benefits to make sure you don’t miss out on any discounts that can save money and benefit your eye health.

Put your BCBS vision plan benefits to work

Getting the most from your vision plan benefits can help you and your family stay in good eye health. Start with routine eye exams, making sure you understand what your plan covers as far as eyewear or contact lenses. 

And be sure to take advantage of any frame or lens benefits and allowances, along with other member discounts provided by your Blue Cross Blue Shield vision insurance plan.

READ NEXT: Vision insurance: How it can save you money

Blue facts. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. May 2018.

Benefits and rates. Blue Cross Blue Shield FEP Vision. Accessed November 2021.

Individual and family vision insurance plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. Accessed November 2021.

Set your sights on top-notch vision. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Accessed November 2021.

Vision coverage. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. Accessed November 2021. Is vision insurance worth it? Anthem. Accessed November 2021.

Vision insurance plans. Anthem. Accessed November 2021.

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