We’re here to help you make an informed choice for you and your family’s vision insurance. Vision insurance offers benefits that can make a difference in your overall well-being. Routine eye exams help detect the early stages of development of complex conditions, so your vision is always the best it can be. In other words, a low-priced vision care plan allows you to take care of and improve the health of your eyes.
What does vision insurance cover?
Vision insurance provides much more than eye exams. Benefits include coverage and discounts on your choice of glasses. Depending on the plan, you may receive benefits for:
- prescription lenses
- Discounts on eyeglass frames
- Contact lenses
- Discounts on prescription sunglasses
- TRANSITIONS LENSES
- Discounts on non-prescription eye accessories
Trust that you will choose the best vision insurance
If you get into the habit of getting regular eye exams, you can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being. Annual exams can improve your vision with accurate updates on your prescription lenses. With an annual visit to your eye doctor or ophthalmologist you can treat bothersome conditions in your eyes, such as irritation, dryness or photosensitivity. Your eye doctor can provide you with treatments that are covered by your health or vision insurance plan.
Also, at each exam your eye doctor will monitor the appearance of more complex vision conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts. Eye doctors and ophthalmologists can detect early signs of cancer and diabetes during a routine eye exam, which is why getting a yearly checkup is so important.
Get more from your vision insurance
Your vision insurance allows you to monitor the health of your eyes. Most vision insurance plans include annual exams with a copay. We recommend making sure your plan has a network eye doctor in your area.
If your eye doctor prescribes glasses, most vision insurance plans will cover lens renewals every 1 to 2 years, including single, bifocal, or trifocal lenses. It is also possible to renew the frames every 1 or 2 years, depending on the allocation.
Depending on your vision plan, you may also receive conventional and disposable contact lenses, based on your allowance.
Tip: Many vision care plans offer savings on eyewear renewals, such as transitional, progressive, anti-reflective, polarized and polycarbonate lenses.
How much does vision insurance cost?
There is no general basis for vision insurance. While most basic vision insurance plans include eye exams, contact lenses, and glasses, there are also more comprehensive plans that provide discounts on the cost of renewing glasses.
Why is it important to have vision insurance for the whole family?
Eye care is essential for children from an early age. For children, it is recommended that they begin their eye exams between the ages of 3 and 5. While Affordable Care Act plans are required to offer vision coverage for children, the same coverage is not offered for adults. For more comprehensive options, you can look for a vision care plan that covers the whole family.
Do you have an older adult in your family? Eye doctors can detect many age-related conditions, such as macular degeneration, during a routine exam. We know that Original Medicare doesn’t cover vision care for older adults, so at Anthem we offer exclusive vision care plans that cover everyone in your family, of all ages, at a low price.
Everything you need to know about vision insurance
The 71-year-old retiree from Tupelo, Mississippi, did not have vision insurance and, because money was tight, he avoided seeing an ophthalmologist. Later, he learned that there are volunteer ophthalmologists who do comprehensive exams at no cost through EyeCare America’s Seniors Program. Hastert made an appointment, and his eyes turned out to be healthy. “I’m finally calm,” he says.
It is important to have a comprehensive annual dilated eye exam; assesses your ability to see, detects age-related vision problems, and even helps detect chronic conditions like diabetes. Almost 2% of people age 40 and older have glaucoma . In adults over the age of 50, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss.
However, good vision insurance is not something that can be taken for granted. “Cost is one of the key reasons people don’t get eye exams,” says Julian Roberts, executive director of the National Association of Vision Care Plans. But there are options, even for those on very tight budgets.
The two types of coverage
Keep in mind that there are two types of vision care: one that takes care of your daily vision, primarily glasses or contact lenses , and the other that treats eye diseases and eye injuries.
Your regular health insurance will cover the cost of diagnosing and treating an eye injury or illness that requires a doctor’s help—just like a broken bone or heart disease—although copays and usual deductibles.
Health insurance does not cover the cost of eyeglasses , contact lenses, or other costs related to daily vision support. But there is undefined ground. Although it typically doesn’t cover a simple refractive exam (used to determine eyeglass prescriptions), if your ophthalmologist diagnoses you with a medical problem, such as glaucoma or cataracts, the entire visit may be billed under insurance, he says. Josh Ehrlich, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. (Check with your doctor for specific office policies.)
That creates a small problem, since the exams are not covered, unless you are diagnosed with an illness. But the best way to diagnose it is by examination.
It pays for services like routine eye exams, plus a high percentage of the cost of glasses or contacts. Upgrades like anti-reflective coating on the lenses and transition glasses aren’t usually covered, but read the fine print to see if any of the cost will.
Many people get affordable vision insurance through their employer: You pay a couple of dollars a month, as an addition to your current health benefits, and your employer pays the rest, explains Danielle Kunkle Roberts, co-founder of the Boomer Benefits insurance agency.
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones whose eyesight is still healthy, it’s a good idea to take advantage of your employer-provided vision plan, because you’ll likely need vision correction in the near future.
“We did a study of adults 65 and older, and we found that 92% wore glasses to correct distance or near vision,” says Josh Ehrlich, a Michigan professor who co-authored the study published in 2018 in the journal medical JAMA Ophthalmology . Dr. Charlotte Yeh, medical director of AARP Services, recommends that everyone over the age of 50 have a comprehensive annual dilated eye exam.
Find Independent Coverage
If you don’t have access to vision insurance provided by your employer, you can purchase a plan from a private insurer. But that requires a good price comparison strategy.
Pay a monthly fee to access comprehensive eye exams and discounted glasses at a select network of doctors and vision centers. “This is a great option if you’re looking to get a little help with the cost of routine vision services,” says Kunkle Roberts. Check memberships you already have: AARP Vision Discounts provided by EyeMed, AAA, and merchants like Costco may offer cost savings.
Vision benefit packages
These plans work much like traditional insurance coverage. You pay a fixed amount, as well as a copay for the exam, glasses, and contact lenses. Look for these packages through an insurance agent, buy them online, or contact your state insurance department for information. You may also be able to add a vision insurance policy to your dental insurance plan.
“All networks have significant options for consumers, from independent optometrists to stores like LensCrafters or For Eyes, and even Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart,” says Roberts. But in the end, it may be better to save the money you’d spend on insurance and put it toward the cost of your glasses. He calls up a few vision centers and asks them these questions: If I pay cash, how much would a comprehensive eye exam cost? What is the cost of contact lenses, eyeglasses and upgrades like anti-reflective coating? Is there a discount for paying in cash? It might surprise you how much prices can vary. He then compares that to what you’d pay for a vision plan, and makes a decision with those elements in mind.
What happens if you don’t have insurance?
Even if you don’t have insurance through Medicare , your employer, or the marketplace, you should try getting a baseline eye exam.
EyeCare America’s Glaucoma Program is an option for people who do not have insurance and are at higher risk of glaucoma. Such people receive a free screening for glaucoma (a disease that often has no symptoms). Adults 65 and older are eligible for a free medical eye exam under EyeCare America’s Seniors Program, and those diagnosed with an eye disease will receive up to a year of follow-up care