Enrolling in vision insurance can help you prioritize your eye health, access routine care, and save on out-of-pocket expenses. And open enrollment is an opportune time to assess your eye-care needs and ensure you have the right coverage in place.
You may have questions about vision insurance – including how it works and how to enroll. Here you’ll find answers to some common questions and other information that can help you better understand vision insurance benefits and find an insurance plan that works for you.
How does vision insurance work?
Vision insurance offers coverage for various eye-care services. You pay a monthly premium in exchange for access to benefits that can help offset the costs of routine eye exams, prescription glasses, contact lenses, and more. Vision insurance may also cover corrective procedures, like LASIK1, PRK surgery, and cataract surgery. Specific benefits vary depending on the vision plan.
Should I get vision insurance?
Vision insurance may help reduce the financial burden associated with eye-care expenses that aren’t typically covered by health insurance plans. For instance, the average cost of an eye exam without insurance is around $200.2 But with vision insurance, you can generally expect to pay a copay ranging from $10 to $40.2 If you need vision correction, the frames and corrective lenses (or contact lenses), will be additional costs — sometimes more than the exam itself. Vision insurance may offer coverage for all or a portion of these expenses.
Should I get vision insurance if I don’t wear glasses?
Even if you don’t wear glasses or have vision problems, being proactive with your eye care can be important for maintaining your overall health and well-being. Certain vision conditions may be genetic. So even if your eyes are healthy now, regular eye exams may help spot changes in your eye health before they become larger problems. Plus, early detection of eye conditions — like glaucoma, cataracts, refractive errors, or age-related degeneration — can lead to timely treatment and may improve your chances of successful management.
How to get vision insurance during open enrollment: 6 considerations
1. Check your employee benefits and consult with HR
To enroll in vision insurance, check your employee benefits package to determine if vision coverage is included. Many employers offer vision insurance as part of their health insurance plans. Consult with your company’s human resources (HR) department for detailed information about available vision insurance options, including coverage, cost, and enrollment procedures.
If your employer doesn’t offer a group plan, you may be able to enroll in an individual vision plan through an insurance provider.
2. Evaluate your eye-care needs
Assess your eye-care needs and those of your family to determine the level of coverage you require. Consider factors such as the frequency of eye exams, prescription eyewear needs, and any specific eye conditions or concerns you may have. Then, evaluate the specific coverage provided by the insurance plan to ensure it aligns with your requirements.
3. Explore additional coverage options
See if the vision insurance plan offers discounts or coverage for additional services beyond basic eye care. For example, some plans may offer coverage for specialized treatments, like orthokeratology or vision therapy. You can also explore options for benefits covering all or a portion of the costs of designer frames, lens coatings, or premium lenses.
4. Review your in-network providers
Do you already have a preferred eye-care provider? When enrolling in vision insurance, check to see if they’re in-network, so you can maximize your benefits and potentially reduce out-of-pocket expenses. If you choose an out-of-network provider, your coverage may be limited and your expenses may be higher. In some cases, you might need to pay for out-of-network services upfront and then submit a claim for reimbursement.
5. Calculate costs and consider your budget
Calculate the costs associated with the insurance plan, taking into account monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Then, evaluate your budget and eye-care needs to determine if the anticipated costs are financially manageable.
6. Find more ways to save
If available, you can use a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to further reduce out-of-pocket eye care expenses. Both FSAs and HSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax funds specifically for eligible medical expenses, like corrective surgery, eye exams, and eyewear.
When is open enrollment for vision insurance?
Open enrollment typically takes place in October and November, but the exact timing may vary depending on your employer or insurance provider. Certain qualifying life events (QLEs), such as marriage or sudden loss of coverage, allow you to enroll outside of the open enrollment period.
Consult with your employer or insurance provider to learn more about open enrollment dates and the details of your plan options.
Caring for your vision is a key factor for maintaining your overall health. Vision insurance can help you keep eye-care costs in check and focus on a healthy future for you and your family.