Vision Insurance: Is it Worth it?

It’s likely that you’re already paying for standard medical insurance, dental, and any other mix of add-on types of insurance. So it’s a fair question to ask, “Is vision insurance worth it?”

Some would ask you to think, “Is being able to see worth it?” but that’s a little bit extreme. At the end of the day, it will depend on your situation as to if it makes dollars and cents to opt in for vision insurance coverage.

Here’s what you need to know.

What does it cover?

Vision insurance does not cover everything related to eye health. Regular medical insurance covers accidents, surgery and eye disease. So you should know that regular emergencies and accidents are covered by your main health insurance.

Vision insurance covers the basics: eye exams, glasses and contacts. It also covers you if your vision becomes permanently impaired. More comprehensive plans will help with costs of eye surgery, eye diseases, and permanent vision impairment or discounts on laser eye-correction surgery.

There’s a sufficient allowance for basic glasses and contacts, but anything in addition to that is an additional cost. For example:

You want lightweight or anti-glare lenses? That’s on you.

You want designer frames? Vision insurance will pay for a small amount, and the rest is what you pay out of pocket.

In some cases, vision insurance might cover retail markup but you pay the wholesale cost.

In other circumstances, vision insurance might not cover both contacts AND glasses.

Furthermore, there’s the issue of timing in some plans.

Some vision insurance benefits are spread out over 24 months versus the traditional 12 month span of time in health insurance. There may also be waiting periods from 30 days to 36 months with reduced or no benefits.

Make sure you read carefully through benefits and fine print before signing up for a vision insurance plan.

In general, you should get one eye exam each year. With vision insurance, you can expect to pay a low copay between $10-15. But every plan is different. Some say that vision insurance (in some cases) functions more like a discount plan than a typical insurance plan. We’ll look at different insurance offers versus no insurance shortly.

Pre-existing conditions wont prevent you from getting vision insurance, but plans likely won’t cover the pre-existing condition itself.

What’s the Cost?

There are three basic different categories when considering the cost of eye health: vision insurance in the group market, vision insurance in the individual market, and eye health costs without insurance:

Group market

  • $3-7/month per person
  • Pretty inexpensive
  • Many doctors in network
  • Wide range of glasses/contacts/benefits

Individual market

  • $15-60/month per person or for the entire family
  • Similar copay as in the group market
  • Expect to pay around $120 for glasses or contacts

No vision insurance

  • Exams: about $60
  • Glasses: from $100-500+
  • Contacts: $100-200 each year

There’s usually only one opportunity per year to sign up if you get it through your employer. In some cases, plans charge a one-time enrollment fee.

So make sure all the costs of insurance are enough to make it worth purchasing it.

How to Get the Most Out Vision Insurance

  • Use it, otherwise it’s a waste of money
  • Get measurements for glasses during an eye exam, even if you don’t buy them there
  • Buy glasses online to save money, unless your doctor gives you an insurance discount
  • Try glasses on at home before committing to a permanent pair

Alternatives to Vision Insurance

Finally, here are some ways to keep costs down if you don’t opt to purchase vision insurance:

  • Big box stores like Walmart or Costco have low cost optical centers
  • Cheap glasses can be found everywhere if you’re not picky about designer styles
  • Contribute to an employer flex spending account and use tax free contributions to pay

Another consideration is maintaining excellent eye health. Two supplements can help:

  • Norflo
  • Ialutec

Norflo is a supplement that helps with dry eye syndrome, age-related macular degeneration, and central serous chorioretinopathy.

Ialutec not only helps remove floaters in the eyes, but also can aid with symptoms of arthritis and skin aging.

So… should you do it?

It should be pretty obvious by now that there’s no cut and dry answer to this question. Whatever you do, make sure the costs add up in a way that you’re not paying more than you would without it.

Do you use vision insurance? What has your experience been with it? Let us know in the comments.