Updated on  February 12, 2024
8 min read

What Does Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Cover for Vision?

7 sources cited
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About Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a nationally known insurance provider in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).1 They provide health, dental, and vision benefits to over 18 million unionized workers and over 5 million federal employees, uniformed service members, retirees, and their dependents. 

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BCBS’s supplemental vision plans provide comprehensive, worldwide vision coverage for vision care exams, treatment, and eyewear purchases. They have a frame allowance and great discounts on popular prescription lenses.  

BCBS companies work closely with hospitals and eye doctors to provide quality, affordable healthcare in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. According to BCBS, they have more than 1.7 million doctors and hospitals contracted with them. This is more than any other insurer.

In this article, we discuss:

  • The type and cost of Blue Cross Blue Shield Vision insurance plans
  • Eligibility for BCBS coverage
  • How to find a BCBS provider
  • How FEP Blue Vision works

What Type of Vision Care is Covered by Blue Shield?

You must know your vision plan and what it covers to get the most out of your BCBS coverage. Depending on your plan, the following will be covered:

  • Comprehensive vision care exams. Covered every 12 months with no copayments.
  • Prescription eyeglasses. Offered with copayments. 
  • Contact lenses. Discounted and may include cost allowance. 
  • Frames. Offered at discounted prices. Some plans offer allowances in addition to discounts.
  • Prescription sunglasses.
  • Non-prescription eyewear accessories. Offered at discounted rates.
  • LASIK surgery. Covered at a discounted rate.

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Types of Blue Cross Blue Shield Vision Plans

Pretty young woman cotor during eye test

Blue Cross Blue Shield offers vision coverage based on the community’s needs. For this reason, the available BCBS vision plans may vary by state. However, they generally include the following:

Individual Vision Plans

BCBS and VSP® Vision Care have collaborated to provide Individual Vision plans that include eye care services and supplies to maintain healthy eyes. The Individual Vision Plan is available with individual, family, and Medicare Supplemental health plans.

Stand-Alone Vision Plans

BCBS’s traditional health insurance plan does not include vision care. However, coverage is offered as a stand-alone plan for members enrolled in individual health insurance plans or employer-sponsored group plans.2

Preferred Provider Organization Health Insurance Plan (PPO)

The Preferred Provider Organization Health Insurance Plan (PPO) offers affordable, age-dependent rates for children. It lets you choose where to take your child for eye care, even outside the Blue Shield network. 

Unlike other health insurance carriers who may require you to purchase coverage for your children, PPO premiums are based on the child’s age, not the type of coverage. 

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans include vision care in addition to other great benefits offered under the Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).

Your vision benefits and obligations will depend on your type of Medicare Advantage plan (HMO, PPO, PFFS, etc.)3

Federal Employee Program (FEP)

FEP is a government-wide Service Benefit Plan providing vision coverage for more than 5 million federal employees, retirees, and their families. FEP keeps premiums low while providing comprehensive benefits for members.

How Much Does Vision Coverage Cost with BCBS?

The cost of vision care coverage will vary based on your selected plan and location. For example, plans in one state may feature deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, while other states may exclude some payments. According to affordable health insurance, BCBS monthly premiums for Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan range from $300 to $600.4

Carefully review your Blue Cross Blue Shield vision plan benefits designed to save money on glasses, contact lenses, and services. To know how much your plan will cost, go to the BCBS website and compare plans or call your local BCBS company to speak to an agent.

Premiums and Copays

After enrolling into BCBS, you’ll be paying monthly premiums. The amount will vary depending on the type of plan and location. Allowances and discounts on certain products may also vary from state to state.

If you need glasses after the eye exam, You may have to make a copayment for the lenses (About $10 or $15). The price may go up if you exceed your plan’s allowance. 

We recommend using in-network providers to save money and get the most from your vision insurance benefits. Members pay the same no matter where they go in-network.

Comparing Vision Insurance Costs with Competitors

Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are relatively more expensive compared to other insurers. They also have the highest out-of-pocket costs. BCBS’s Silver plan costs an average of $607 monthly for someone aged 40 and older.

Compared to similar plans, the average monthly cost for Aetna is $450, while the average monthly premium for Cigna is $465.

By enrolling with BCBS insurance, you’ll benefit from the vast provider network and unique member perks. They may, however, cost more. Get a quote from a BCBS plan in your location to know your exact coverage costs.

VSP insurance coverage can help you save on glasses, contacts, eye exams, and more. Learn More

Who is Eligible for Blue Cross Blue Shield Coverage?

The following categories of people qualify for Blue Cross Blue Shield Coverage:

  • Unionized workers, retirees, and their dependents
  • Federal employees, annuitants, and their family members 
  • Retired federal employees such as uniformed service members and their families.
  • Families of active duty service members.

Remember, you must reside in an area serviced by your desired vision plan to enroll. You must have Medicare Part A and B membership to qualify for the medicare advantage plan.

How to Find a BCBS Vision Provider

To locate a Blue Cross Blue Shield company in your state, follow the following steps:

  1. Visit the BCBS website.5
  2. Navigate to “BCBS® Companies and Licensees” to view different service locations.
  3. Select the BCBS company for your state to search for information about coverage and pricing. 
  4. If your employer offers a BCBS vision insurance plan, contact them to learn more about plan details.

How Does FEP Blue Vision Work?

FEP Blue Vision is a Blue Cross and Blue Shield supplemental vision plan. FEP Vision members have access to Blue365® Program discounts on health and wellness services and over 130,000 providers nationally.

Blue365 is accessible at blue365deals.com. This program is free and assists you in achieving optimal eye health. You can also receive discounts on non-vision-related items like gym memberships, meal kits, and more. 

There are two BCBS FEP vision coverage options: High and Standard. Let’s compare their offers in the table below:

High OptionStandard Option
Free vision exams
Free frames and contact lenses
Full coverage on frames from the BCBS FEP Vision Exclusive Collection
$200 frame allowance for frames outside of the Exclusive Collection
20% off frames over $200 at select retailers
Free vision exams
Free frames and contact lenses
Fully covered BCBS FEP Vision Collection frames
$140 frame allowance  for frames outside of the Exclusive Collection
20% off frames over $140 at select retailers

The laser vision correction benefit enables members to spend less than the national average to restore their eyesight. BCBS FEP Vision has partnered with QualSight LASIK, a major network of credentialed laser surgeons, to provide coverage at discounted prices. If you’re a candidate for LASIK surgery, you can save up to 35% off the national average cost.6

What is the Enrollment Process for FEP Blue Vision?

The enrollment process for FEP is administered by BENEFEDS, a secure, government-authorized portal. You can enroll online or by phone. Call 1-877-888-3337 Monday to Friday (9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time). 

Those outside the US can call 1-571-730-5942 for inquiries. If you have hearing loss or speech impairment, call 1-877-889-5680.

Once you enroll, your coverage will automatically renew each year.7

You are eligible for FEP if you:

  • Currently receive an annuity.
  • Are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB).
  • Are a child/dependent of a qualifying person (Covered until age 22).
  • Are a retired uniformed officer.
  • Are enrolled in a TRICARE Health plan.
  • Are the spouse of a retired or active-duty uniformed service member.

Common Questions About Blue Cross Blue Shield Vision Insurance

What are the benefits of BCBS vision insurance coverage?

Like any insurance coverage, BCBS insurance saves you and your family out-of-pocket payments for vision care, including routine exams and eyewear. With providers nationwide, BCBS vision plans help people maintain healthy eyes.

Is there an age cap for dependents of eligible members?

Yes. There is an age cap set by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). For full-time students, the age cap is 23 years. For dependents of federal employees, BCBS offers coverage until they turn 22. Military personnel dependents can use the benefits until age 22. 

Do I need to enroll annually if I currently have BCBS FEP Vision?

No. Your membership will automatically renew yearly until you make changes through the BENEFEDS portal. Changes can be made if you have a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) or during Open Season. The open season runs from Monday of the second week of November to Monday of the second week in December. 

Are the vision insurance premiums paid manually or deducted from my paycheck?

As a federal employee, your premiums will be deducted from your paycheck as pre-tax dollars. On the other hand, uniformed service members will pay their premiums through payroll deduction or automatic bank withdrawal (ABW) using post-tax dollars. Annuitants make their payments through annuity deductions on their post-tax dollars.

Does BCBS provide coverage overseas?

BCBS does not have providers overseas, but they offer Vision International benefits to federal employees and other eligible members residing overseas.

Summary

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a nationally known insurance provider offering federal employees and their dependents health, dental, and vision benefits.
  • BCBS’s supplemental plans provide comprehensive, worldwide vision coverage for vision care exams, treatment, and eyewear purchases.
  • The types of plans include stand-alone, individual, Medicare, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), and Federal Employee Program (FEP).
  • The coverage cost for vision care varies majorly based on location and the type of plan you choose.
  • FEP Blue Vision is a Blue Cross and Blue Shield supplemental vision plan providing access to discounts on health and wellness services.

VSP has the nation's largest network of independent vision doctors. Protect your health and save money today. Check Their Network

Updated on  February 12, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 12, 2024
  1. Benefits.gov. “Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP),” www.benefits.gov.
  2. HealthCare.gov. “Vision coverage,” www.healthcare.gov.
  3. Medicare.gov“Compare types of Medicare Advantage Plans,” www.medicare.gov, 2023.
  4. National Library of Medicine. “Health Maintenance Organization,” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2023.
  5. Blue Cross Blue Shield. “BCBS® Companies and Licensees,” www.bcbs.com.
  6. Kates and Tuli., “What Is LASIK Eye Surgery?” American Medical Association, 2023.
  7. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). “Federal Benefits FastFacts for Vision Insurance,” www.opm.gov.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.