I’m extremely near-sighted and have sensitive eyes, so I’m fortunate that my employer provides vision insurance. If you don’t have it, it may not be worth it to buy it on your own, but you should take advantage of it if your employer offers it. Ask your HR department for details of your plan, but this is a review of what it typically includes.

Vision Insurance Benefits
Although the exact levels of coverage vary, most policies cover at least the following:

Optometrist Exam and Fitting
If you wear glasses or contacts, then you should visit the optometrist annually. Even if your vision is fairly stable, your prescription may change slightly from year to year. If you wear glasses, it may not be too noticeable, but it can be very noticeable with contacts. Most vision insurance plans cover the exam and follow-up visits for fitting, with a reasonable co-pay of $10-$25.

You can buy the frames and lenses directly from your optometrist. Most plans offer at least a $100 reimbursement towards the cost of glasses or contacts. Some plans will cover select frames and lenses in full.

Contact Lenses
Most plans will reimburse up to $100 a year if you opt for contact lenses in lieu of glasses. Some plans will cover two sets of contact lenses (four boxes) in full if you buy brands that are included in the brand. If you need specialized lenses, they will typically reimburse a portion.

If you have both glasses and contacts, consider which is the better benefit. You may not need to replace the frames every year, in which case four boxes of contacts may be cheaper than new lenses for your glasses. Or maybe you need new glasses, and can spread your contacts purchase throughout the year to take less of a hit up front.

Individual Vision Insurance
If you have an individual health plan rather than insurance through your employer, you may not be offered vision insurance. Even if you are, it may not be worth it unless it’s less than $10 a month. If you have to pay more than $10 a month for the coverage and only have a $100 materials reimbursement and an exam co-pay, you’d save about $100 a year if you choose expensive contacts. If you choose cheap contacts, then you might save $40 a year. If you only receive a discount on services and lenses, then vision insurance isn’t worth the cost. You’d probably be better off buying a Costco membership and receiving vision services there.

If you have employer-provided health insurance that doesn’t include vision insurance, your best bet is to put aside money each month for your vision needs rather than attempting to buy a vision plan on its own.


2 Responses to “Take Advantage of Vision Insurance”

  1. Money Beagle on May 12th, 2009 4:17 am

    Nice writeup. It’s worth noting to that most plans (at least that I’ve ever been part of) will cover frames once every two years.

  2. Money Hacks Carnival - Otter Pop Editio | StretchyDollar on May 20th, 2009 7:50 am

    [...] presents Take Advantage of Vision Insurance posted at Sound Money [...]

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