Do you find yourself not able to read the subtitles on the television or do you get headaches when you look at your computer screen at work? Then it is probably time to have your eyes checked. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) estimates that more than 150 million Americans already wear glasses or contacts to correct vision issues. 1 in 3 have problems with astigmatism, a condition that makes it difficult to focus your vision on a single point. These numbers are projected to rise through 2020. Getting your regular comprehensive eye exam is also a good way to detect many overall health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, if you did not choose to opt into the vision insurance option during your open enrollment, you may be expected to shell out major money. (Check out the infographic below to see the average savings!)
Vision insurance is a health and wellness plan designed to help offset your costs for routine preventative eye care and vision correction. Some vision plans even offer discounts on elective corrective surgery such as LASIK and PRK. But unlike your medical policy, vision insurance plans act more like discount plans or wellness benefit plans that provide specific benefits on an annual or biannual basis. Most of these plans can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year. Typically, a vision plan provides eye care services and eyewear within fixed dollar amounts in exchange for an annual or monthly premium combined with a relatively small fixed amount co-pay when you use a service. There are other plans that work as a discount plan that simply gives you a variable discount on services in exchange for your membership or premium fees.
How do you get vision insurance?
Vision insurance is typically considered a supplemental benefit and there are a variety of ways to get covered:
- Group Benefits: This is usually though an employer or membership group that provides its people with benefits. These can also be provided through a federal or state government agency that provides retirees with benefits.
- Health Insurance: Many major medical plans either include or have low cost add-ons for routine eye health. Make sure to read your plan thoroughly: some of these plans only cover medical eye exams and do not include vision testing or corrective lenses.
- Private Stand-alone vision plans: Employers are not required under the ACA to provide vision insurance options with their benefits package. These private plans are usually have a slightly larger monthly/yearly premium, but overall can still save you a lot of money.
- Dental and vision bundle: It is very common to have a value added to your dental insurance in the fine print that includes basic vision insurance provisions.
So if you have vision insurance then you should schedule an appointment with an in-network doctor to use your vision benefits. If you don’t have any vision insurance, then you should explore one of the options above and talk to a benefit consultant about which plan best fits your needs.