More and more of us have vision insurance through our employer, but this is one “insurance” policy that’s less than it appears to be.
Here’s what you need to know about vision insurance
Vision insurance is a fairly common staple of insurance offerings at a lot of employers. But money expert Clark Howard says this kind of vision coverage isn’t really accurately named.
“With vision insurance, what you’re really getting is a discount — this is not true insurance.”
In this article, we’ll take a look at what vision insurance is, what it pays for, what it won’t pay for and more.
Table of contents
- What is vision insurance?
- What does vision insurance cover?
- Special considerations for glasses
- Special considerations for contact lenses
1. What is vision insurance?
Vision coverage plans offer a discount on your eye examination and on your glasses or contacts.
The thing with the discount is that if you wear both glasses and contacts, you typically have to pick which one you get your discount on.
And even though vision insurance isn’t traditional insurance as we noted earlier, you still have to pay a premium. There typically isn’t any deductible you have to meet before your coverage kicks in.
However, there is often a benefit cap that varies by carrier. You have to pay out of pocket for any services or products after you reach that threshold.
2. What does vision insurance cover?
The annual benefit you receive typically covers:
- Basic preventive care, including eye exams and vision tests
- Prescription lenses
- Contact lenses
- Some kinds of protection for glasses, commonly scratch-resistant coating
Some major vision insurers may offer more coverage at select retailers, so check with your carrier for the specifics of your plan.
What won’t vision insurance typically cover?
While policy specifics vary by provider, vision coverage generally won’t apply to the following:
- Progressive lenses
- Trifocal lenses
- Anti-glare coating
- Impact-resistant lenses
In addition, elective procedures like LASIK usually aren’t fully covered. However, partial coverage may be available depending on your plan.
Finally, you might assume vision insurance covers thinks like glaucoma and cataracts. But those medical conditions are generally covered instead by traditional health insurance.
3. Special considerations for glasses
Clark says the question of how and where you get your glasses is more important to your wallet than the specifics of your vision plan.
“I always ask people, ‘What did you pay for your glasses?’ Most spend a fortune. Yet today it’s possible to get frames and lenses complete for ultra-cheap online,” Clark says.
According to Consumer Reports, one of the highest rated online sellers is ZenniOptical.com. You can get prescription glasses for starting at $12 to $15 — including shipping!
To make sure you’re getting the best deal, you may want to check out this list of 10 best places to get a deal on eyeglasses.
4. Special considerations for contact lenses
When it comes to contacts, where you fill the prescription for your lenses is again more important than the question of what exactly your vision insurance covers. That’s because you’re likely to save a whole lot more money if you buy at the right places.
For example, Costco Wholesale has its Kirkland Signature private label of contact lenses. They’re much cheaper than brand-name lenses.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out our list of the best places to save money on contact lenses. In that article, we put five retailers head-to-head on pricing on several brands of contact lenses.
Proper eye care is important for people of all ages. And with the rising cost of health care in general, it’s nice that vision coverage exists to help hold the cost of glasses and contacts down.
Yet in reality, vision insurance isn’t exactly traditional insurance. It really just offers you a discount on products and services related to your eyesight.
That’s why the question of where and how you buy your glasses and contacts is more important than what vision insurance company you’re with, according to Clark.