The health of your eyes is just as important as the health at any other area in your body. Often times when getting health insurance, it is typical to skip vision insurance. Usually, it is provided as a group benefit through your employer or you can purchase it as an individual policy. Some people think getting vision benefits from their employer is a waste of money while others believe it is an excellent option. If you are on the fence about whether or not vision insurance is worth it, here are a few things you should consider.

What Exactly Is Vision Insurance?

To understand if vision insurance is worth it, you must first understand how it works and what it does. When you have vision insurance, you have to pay a premium either monthly or yearly. That premium will purchase you all kinds of benefits like discounted vision exams, glasses and contacts. Sometimes those services are free. There are two different types of vision insurance: benefits packages and discount plans. When you have a benefits package, you typically only get one eye exam per year and though you may not have to pay the full cost of the exam, you might still have a $10-$25 copay. On the other hand, you also pay a yearly or monthly premium or membership fee, and that purchase allows you to get a percentage of all your services and eyewear.

Vision insurance is not all-encompassing and does not cover all things eye-related injuries. If you have a pre-existing condition, you typically do not get those costs covered even with insurance. Vision insurance is good for eye exams and basic optical equipment, small issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Anything beyond that, you may still have to pay for a few services yourself.

Which Plan Is Right For Me?

When you are thinking of purchasing an insurance plan, there are a few things you need to consider. You can expect to pay anywhere between $5 to $15 monthly. If you want to add coverage for your spouse, domestic partner or child, you may pay a little less per person than the plan’s individual rate. If your employer offers vision care insurance, there may not be as many opportunities to sign up as it may require to fall during the yearly open enrollment period. Ultimately, it comes from knowing your bottom line to ensure you are not paying more than you expect to receive. Find out the bottom line in each option, making sure to compare the policy’s total annual cost to your forecasted annual vision care expenses.

How Often Will I Recieve My Benefits Or Allowance?

You may only be able to receive your allowances or benefits every 24 months. Depending on your lifestyle and personal needs, this may be ok but if you have a big family you could easily overspend your allowance, leaving you to cover the costs out of pocket for the rest of your family’s needs.

What Will My Vision Care Insurance Cover?

What your vision care insurance pays varies. The very basic plans typically cover eye exams, contacts and glasses. These may function more like discount plans than insurance whereas if you get a more all-inclusive plan you may receive discounted or free eye exams, contact, glasses as well as help with the cost of eye surgery, treatment of eye diseases and permanent vision impairment.

It is important to keep in mind that though a vision insurance plan will cover more than a vision benefits package, it may not pay you in the way that you think. Instead of paying an annual deductible, your insurance company will give you a flat fee payment that would go towards those more in-depth coverages.

Some other things to consider is that some plans might only cover the bare necessities. For instance, your plan covers lenses for glasses but it may only be basic lenses. Anything extra you may want like anti-glare or super intricate frames, you may have to come out of your own pocket, though the insurance company will pay for at least some of those expenses.

Is There A Waiting Period?

Whether or not your plan has a waiting period depends on the insurance company. Some plans require a range between 30 days to 36 months before you will be able to receive your full benefits. This stops people from waiting until they have an expensive problem to sign up for vision care insurance. Until that timeline is up, you may get reduced benefits or no benefits at all.

Are There Any Alternatives To Vision Care?

For those that still do not understand the benefits of getting vision care, you may be leaning toward some alternative methods of getting vision insurance. You can get flexible spending accounts as well as health savings accounts. Both of these alternative options are tax-advantaged, lowering your taxable income when it becomes tax time. They can also be used to purchase things like eyeglasses, contacts and eye exams. Another alternative is to use major retailers that have optical centers. They typically offer services like eye exams and eyeglass frames at discounted prices. You could also opt for ordering your frames through an online retailer. For more of that, visit websites of your favorite online retailers.

Who Needs Vision Insurance?

It is recommended that if you are between 20 and 39 years old, you should get an eye exam every five to 10 years. If you are 40 to 54 years old, you should get an exam every two to four years. Successively, when you are between the ages of 55 to 64 years old you should make sure to get an exam every one to three years. When you are 65 years or older it is recommended that you get an exam every one to two years. It is understood that as you get older, the more often you will need to get exams.

Where Can I Find The Best Plan?

One of the most important things to consider when you are looking for the best vision insurance plan is to take into account your vision needs. Ask yourself if you need corrective lenses or if your family has a history of eye-related diseases. These types of questions can help you think about what kind of coverage is best for you. Once you determine what kind of coverage you need, you can shop around knowing what to look for. You are able to determine what is considered a good plan. If you have a pre-existing condition, you may want to find a plan that you know covers everything you need to ensure you can afford treatment for that thing.

You can buy individual or family vision through many of the same websites you can purchase health insurance. When searching for vision insurance make sure the health insurance provider offers plans in your area. All you need is a ZIP code. It is also important to use the provider directory to make sure your plan covers your preferred doctor. If you are the kind of person that needs frequent eye exams, glasses or contacts, make sure your plan does not have a waiting period.

There are many things that you need to consider when deciding if vision insurance is worth it. For some people it is. They are able to get frequent checkups and eye exams. Others may want the option to switch up their look more often, in which case having vision insurance is worth it because you receive discounts. 

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