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Eyeing Your Coverage: A Guide to Vision Insurance Plans

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Today, there are more options for vision insurance than ever before. This can make it overwhelming to choose a vision insurance plan or to understand what your specific plan offers. We’ve compiled a list of important things to note about vision insurance to help you maximize your coverage, regardless of whether your plan was chosen through an insurance company or through your employer.

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Everything You Need to Know About Vision Plans and Coverage

If you’ve chosen vision insurance through your employer, make sure you review the information provided by your HR department. You can also browse the insurance company’s website and any pamphlets you may have received that offer information about your plan.

Generally, there are two types of vision insurance plans:

  • Vision Benefits Package: This type of vision insurance is often used as an addition to the traditional health insurance provided by an employer. It includes a fixed set of benefits related to eye health and maintenance, such as testing, eyewear discounts, routine eye exams, and benefits that make eye surgery cost effective. This type of plan is also personalized with defined contribution coverage, allowing patients to choose services and discounts based on expected vision expenses. Many of these vision plans make use of pre-tax dollars from Flexible Spending Accounts, ‘Cafeteria’ Plans, Health Savings Accounts, or Health Reimbursement Accounts. Each of these offers tax pros and cons which can be discussed with the insurance provider and a tax professional.
  • Vision Discount Plans: This type of vision insurance offers flat discounts for a variety of vision-related services, including eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses, and many surgical procedures. Patients are required to pay the difference in cost in full, with a benefit of paying lower premiums than traditional vision benefit plans. They also include a network of participating eyecare professionals who have agreed to honor the stated discounts within the vision plan.

Vision Insurance Planning

Understanding what your vision insurance plan covers and doesn’t cover is a key part of making the most of your benefits. You should speak to your eye care professional to figure out how you can best use your coverage to make your eye care more affordable.

If you have traditional health insurance coverage, keep in mind that unlike vision insurance which only covers the cost of eye care, it’ll be able to cover medical related issues such as unexpected eye injuries, certain eye diseases, and treatments.

Knowing the differences between vision insurance and traditional health insurance can help you make the most of your benefits.

Don’t Let Your Vision Insurance Benefits Expire!

Many vision insurance plans expire at the end of the year, meaning if you haven’t used them throughout the year, you’ll lose all your benefits. You’re already paying for your vision benefits, so avoid losing your hard-earned money and schedule an annual eye exam or get a check up if you notice any changes in your vision or eye health.

Additionally, many defined contribution vision insurance plans, such as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), don’t allow any deposited money to be used in the next year, which is why it’s essential for you to use your allocated funds in the timeframe.

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Think Beyond the Traditional Exam

Besides getting a comprehensive eye exam, consider using your vision benefits to get a second pair of eyeglasses. Or, if you like spending time outdoors, prescription sunglasses may be just what you need to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare. If you enjoy a specific activity such as sports, hunting, or anything else — then you can opt to use your vision benefits for specialty eyewear that’s designed to fit your lifestyle.

By understanding your coverage and planning ahead, you can make the most of your vision insurance benefits.