VSP vision insurance: How to get the most from your benefits
Want to save money on your next eye exam and on new eyeglasses or contact lenses?
If you are a full-time employee, you may have vision insurance benefits offered as part of your employer's benefits package. For what is usually a few dollars a week, you can get your eye exams covered and pay less for your eyeglasses and contact lenses with a VSP Vision Care plan.
Failing to use your vision insurance benefits can cost you hundreds of dollars each year in eye care expenses.
If you're uncertain whether you have vision care benefits at work, contact your employer's Human Resources department.
If you are a small-business owner, a freelancer or a gig worker (Uber or Lyft driver, for example), you should consider getting vision insurance as an individual. After all, if you're a freelance writer or a ride-sharing driver and you can't see, you are out of business.
What is VSP?
VSP Vision Care is the largest vision insurance company in the United States. According to the company's website, one in five Americans is covered by a VSP plan that offers vision care and eyewear benefits.
If you're enrolled in a VSP plan (or a comparable vision benefits plan, such as EyeMed) through work, you can take advantage of significant savings when purchasing eye care and eyewear.
NEED A DOCTOR? Click here to find a doctor who accepts VSP vision insurance.
Here are essential steps you should take to get the most from your VSP plan and the benefits it offers.
7 steps to get the most from your VSP vision insurance
1. Start early
When many people discover they have VSP vision insurance coverage at work, they make the mistake of thinking, "I'll look into that when I have more time."
Don't wait. Take advantage of your VSP benefits as soon as possible during your coverage period to avoid forgetting to use them later in the year.
2. Know your benefits
To get the greatest value from your VSP plan, you need to fully understand the benefits your specific plan offers. Your eye exam may be free and you likely will save hundreds on your eyeglasses or contacts.
If you are enrolled in a VSP plan at work, go to www.vsp.com and log in to access your personal benefits information and obtain your VSP vision card.
Print out or write down a summary of your VSP vision benefits. Review the list and see which benefits apply to your needs. Simpler yet, download the VSP Vision Care On The Go app to check your coverage, show your vision card to eyecare providers and more.
If you don't have VSP coverage through work, you can visit the VSP website or contact VSP Vision Care at (800) 877-7195 to select an Individual Plan for you and your family.
3. Schedule an eye exam
When you call or go online to book your next eye exam, check to make sure your eye doctor is a VSP provider.
If your eye doctor isn't a VSP service provider, use our locator to find an eye doctor near you who accepts VSP insurance.
Even if you have perfect vision and don't need eyeglasses or contacts, you still need a comprehensive eye exam to have your eyes tested for glaucoma and other potentially serious conditions. Glaucoma, for example, doesn’t cause blurry vision until it’s too late and you’ve already have permanent vision loss. Even minor vision problems can cause eye strain and headaches — especially when using a computer and other digital devices (including your phone).
Your kids need routine eye exams, too. Vision conditions, such as myopia, can worsen year after year in children, making it difficult for them to see distant objects (like writing on a chalkboard or action on a sports field) clearly. Other undetected vision problems can affect academic performance or reading ability.
Tip: Schedule eye exams for the whole family. After your exams, you can help each other choose eyeglasses.
4. Use your VSP benefits to get the best eyewear
Though choosing attractive glasses and the best eyeglass frames for your face shape are important, the quality of vision the lenses provide is what really matters.
Features like anti-reflective coating, photochromic lenses, and the latest progressive lenses often are essential if you want the clearest, most comfortable vision possible. The added cost of these premium products can stretch your budget if you don't have vision insurance benefits such as those provided by your VSP plan.
Vision insurance also saves you on the cost of your contact lenses — both for fitting and follow-up care and when purchasing replacement lenses.
Essentially, your VSP vision benefits plan is like a gift card — it can make the best glasses and contact lenses significantly more affordable.
5. Wear contacts? You need glasses, too.
Many people — especially teenagers and young adults — think glasses and contact lenses are an "either-or" decision. If you wear contacts, why bother buying glasses?
Even if you can wear contact lenses comfortably all day, you should have an up-to-date quality pair of eyeglasses as well.
What if you're traveling and forgot to pack a spare pair of contacts? A spare pair of glasses can save the day.
When it's allergy season, you may want to wear glasses instead of contacts. With antihistamine eye drops, it's recommended that you take your contacts out, apply the eye drops and wear glasses until the antihistamine brings relief to your itchy, red eyes.
Also, contact lenses often get dry and become less comfortable when spending hours using a computer and other digital devices. If this sounds familiar, wearing glasses instead of contacts for at least some of this "screen time" will make your eyes look and feel better.
Many contact lens wearers find their eyes are much more comfortable when they reduce their wearing time a bit and wear glasses part of the day. And your VSP benefits make it affordable to buy glasses in addition to your contact lenses.
This also allows you to enjoy the fashion possibilities of wearing glasses instead of contacts for certain occasions.
Tip: If you wear contacts, choose anti-reflective (AR) lenses for your glasses. AR lenses give you the more natural, reflection-free vision that you are accustomed to with contacts.
6. Get computer glasses or smart glasses
According to a recent Vision Council report, up to 68 percent of Americans experience symptoms of digital eye strain because of the hours they spend using computers, e-readers and smartphones.
Many of these discomfort symptoms can be relieved with eyeglasses specially prescribed for use with these devices — computer glasses.
In particular, if you currently wear bifocals or progressive lenses, switching to a pair of glasses with single vision lenses prescribed specifically for the distance from your eyes to your screen can make your eyes and neck much more comfortable during computer use.
Or if you're into fitness, you could ditch your Fitbit and track your steps through your smart glasses. VSP's own Level smart glasses integrate "activity-tracking technology into a fashion accessory you already wear every day, your glasses," according to the company. (VSP is currently rolling out Level smart glasses in select markets across the United States.)
The best part? Your VSP benefits make computer glasses and smart glasses affordable!
Tip: When using digital devices, lenses with anti-reflective coating provide an extra level of comfort and clarity. Also, if you use digital devices frequently, choose lenses that protect your eyes from potentially harmful high-energy blue light. Ask your eye care professional for details.
7. Supplement your VSP coverage with an HSA
Eye care is important and quality eyewear isn't cheap. No vision insurance will cover the entire cost of your eye exam, eyeglasses and contact lenses — especially if you want the best eyewear possible.
A health savings account (HSA) enables you to set aside pre-tax dollars every pay period that you can use for health-related expenses your vision insurance doesn't cover — including the cost of eyeglasses and contact lenses.
And you don't have to worry about losing any money in your HSA at the end of the year, because the balance rolls over year-after-year.
Discuss this option with your HR representative at work to see if a health savings account is a good choice for you.
Use your VSP benefits — Don't pass up the savings
Premium eyewear — particularly eyeglasses with trusted brands of anti-reflective coating, photochromic lenses and progressive lenses — can help you see more clearly and comfortably than ever before.
No vision insurance will provide 100 percent coverage, but the valuable benefits and "gift card" function of your VSP Vision Care plan can make even the best brands of eyewear affordable and within your reach.
NEED A DOCTOR? Click here to find a doctor who accepts VSP vision insurance.
Page published on Wednesday, February 27, 2019