The term “vision insurance” is commonly used to describe health and wellness plans designed to reduce your costs for routine preventive eye care (eye exams) and prescription eyewear (eyeglasses and contact lenses). Some vision plans also offer discounts on elective vision correction surgery, such as LASIK and PRK.
But unlike major medical insurance policies that may provide unlimited benefits after a certain co-pays and deductibles are met, most vision insurance plans are discount plans or wellness benefit plans that provide specific benefits and discounts for an annual premium.
In effect, these vision discount and wellness benefits plans offer savings much like a gift card. As such, they can be used to cover much of the cost of basic eyewear, or they can be used to make premium eyewear products and enhancements — such as progressive lenses, anti-reflective coating and photochromic lenses — significantly more affordable.
When purchasing “vision insurance,” be sure you fully understand the costs and benefits associated with the plan(s) you are considering. Also, if you have vision care coverage through a plan at work, be aware that “vision insurance” plans usually operate differently than other health insurance plans or major medical insurance.
It’s always a good idea to ask the business staff at your eye doctor’s office to advise you of the specific benefits of your vision plan prior to your exam and eyewear purchase so there are no surprises afterward.
That said, we will use “vision insurance” in this article as a general term to cover wellness and discount plans that offer vision benefits, as well as more traditional health and medical plans that include vision benefits as well as coverage for eye conditions and diseases and treatment of eye injuries.
What does vision insurance cost?
Vision insurance costs vary, depending upon how the program is designed. Costs also may vary based on your state of residence.
As a general example, Vision Service Plan (VSP), the largest vision plan provider in the United States, lists the following cost savings associated with a typical VSP vision plan for individuals, compared with purchasing an eye exam and eyewear without vision insurance.
NOTE: Benefits associated with VSP plans vary from plan to plan. Most plans also include benefits for purchasing contact lenses — either as an alternative to glasses or in addition to them, depending on the plan. For more details and specifics about your own VSP benefits (if covered) visit vsp.com or speak to your HR representative at work.