Why vision insurance for kids is important

mother putting new pair of eyeglasses on daughter

It’s well known, far and wide, that parenting is not easy. It’s also common knowledge that shopping around for vision insurance can be a chore. Because of this, when it comes to looking for vision insurance for kids, many parents don’t know where to begin. 

Luckily, you’re in the right place. We lay out the basic information on vision insurance for kids, such as what age vision coverage is needed, the cost of coverage and if it’s possible to get vision insurance only for your child. So, grab a pen and paper, top off your cup of coffee and let’s get to it.

At what age should my child have their vision checked?

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.

The InfantSEE program offered through the American Optometric Association also provides free eye exams for children aged 6-12 months. The program allows you to find a local participating pediatric optometrist and schedule a no-cost eye exam for your child.

After the first year, your child typically won’t need another eye exam until age 3 and will have one every year from then until age 6, then every two years thereafter. If your child has a family history of pediatric vision issues, or if you notice any strange or abnormal behavior with your child’s vision, you should contact your pediatrician. In some cases, more frequent eye exams may be required.

SEE RELATED: Is too much screen time bad for kids?

When should I have vision insurance for my kids?

As mentioned above, official eye exams typically begin at age 3, so your child should have vision coverage by then. 

The level of coverage varies from plan to plan, but the main services covered by children’s vision insurance include:

Can I get vision insurance for just my child?

Yes, there are options for only your child to be insured through public and private insurance plans. 

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is available for children who meet the standards set by each individual state. If your child is eligible for CHIP coverage, you will not have to purchase any additional insurance for them. CHIP will cover vision and dental care, emergency services, immunizations, routine check-ups and more.

A perk with CHIP is that you don’t have to wait for open enrollment — you can apply at any time to find out if your child meets the state requirements. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) extends the accessibility and coverage of children’s health insurance. For those who have insurance through the ACA, vision coverage is already included for your children in your benefits plan. In order for plans to be ACA-compliant, they must provide pediatric coverage for vision and dental services.

Both of these options are provided on the state or federal level and cater to households that make below a certain annual income, so not all families will be eligible. The plans also fall under health insurance with vision services included, but are not exclusively vision insurance coverage.

If your household income makes you ineligible for federal insurance plans, or you prefer only vision benefits, there are still options for you. A few choices for your child’s private vision insurance include:

  • UnitedHealthcare

  • Davis Vision

  • Humana

  • VSP

Each of these vision insurance providers has their own set of perks, so we recommend researching them before making a decision. 

How much is vision insurance for kids?

The amount you pay for your child’s vision insurance relies solely on which plan you choose. 

As previously mentioned, CHIP coverage and eligibility are determined by individual states. Typically, the sign-up fee for coverage ranges from $0 to $50, with copays being anywhere from $3 to $25, depending on the household income. To get a more accurate estimate, apply your child for CHIP in your specific state. 

Coverage cost for insurance through the Affordable Care Act depends on a few factors, like which level of coverage you choose and your annual income. Enroll for coverage under the ACA to find out how much vision coverage would cost for your child.

UnitedHealthcare has individual vision coverage for as low as $16 per month, with $10 copays and a frames or contacts credit of $150. 

Davis Vision has similar pricing with individual vision reaching less than $14 per month. In-network copays are $10 and a $130 allowance is given for eyeglass frames.

Humana vision coverage isn’t offered everywhere, so check your location’s availability. They have a $15-per-month plan with a $15 copay and $150 allowance for glasses or contacts.

VSP has a very large network, which makes them an attractive option because the larger the network, the more choices you have. They offer plans as low as $13 per month, but their Standard Plan is $17 per month with a $15 copay and $170 credit for your preferred method of vision correction.

It’s important to remember that the prices of coverage may vary depending on your annual household income, location and other factors. Conducting thorough research on all your vision insurance options can be tedious and, at times, confusing, but definitely worth the effort. 

Finding the right vision insurance coverage will take the stress of paying out of pocket off your shoulders and put your kiddo on the right track to healthy, happy vision.

IS IT TIME FOR YOUR TOT TO HAVE AN EYE EXAM? Schedule an appointment with a pediatric eye doctor near you.

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