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Types of Vision Plans & Insurance
There are generally two types of vision plans. The first is a vision benefits package, much like regular health insurance. The other is a vision discount plan. Plans vary, but in most cases, each of these vision plans provides basic coverage that includes benefits like a routine eye examination and glasses or contact lenses.
What Do Vision Plans Cover?
For the most part, a vision plan covers annual eye exams and a single corrective piece of eyewear. This might be basic frames and prescription lenses and/or contact lenses. Some cover eye health procedures or corrective services, but this is not always the case.
Benefits of Vision Plans
Benefits vary from plan to plan. But in general, the biggest benefit of having vision coverage is the reduction in the cost of eye exams and vision products. You’ll pay less for eye health care if you have a vision plan. Some plans also offer cost savings for eyeglasses or contact lenses and vision correction services, including LASIK. The savings vary, but some plans can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.
What are the Best Vision Insurance Plans?
Vision plans vary, so it’s difficult to determine an overall best plan. What works for one person might not be the best option for another. However, some plans stand out for certain reasons. For example:
- VSP is regarded by many as the best overall vision insurance plan
- UnitedHealthcare (Spectera) is good for those considering LASIK surgery
- Humana (EyeMed) is popular among those who wear contact lenses
- Davis Vision offers the most comprehensive coverage
- MESVision is another fairly common vision plan
Determining which plan is best for you and your family requires that you understand what you need and what each plan offers.
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Best Vision Plans for Families
If you are looking for a plan for a family with children, you have a few options. Most vision plans for kids and families cover eye exams and preventative care, eyeglasses and frames, contact lenses, and some lens enhancements, such as scratch-resistant treatment.
Some of the best vision plans for families include:
- VSP for overall care
- Davis Vision for affordability
- Humana for contact lens wearers
- UnitedHealthcare for low deductibles
Vision care will not be free with these plans, but they will save you out-of-pocket expenses. This means you’ll pay less if your children or other family members need glasses or contact lenses.
The average cost of a vision plan is very reasonable and ranges from $15 to $20 per month depending on the plan. If you want a plan that offers greater coverage for eyewear or a larger network so you have your choice of more eye doctors, you’ll likely pay closer to $40 per month.
Best Vision Plans for Individuals
Like family vision plans, choosing the best vision plan for individuals requires you to understand your needs. In many cases, the best plan for you is the same as the best plan for a family.
Adults are more likely to wear contact lenses than younger children and can undergo LASIK surgery, so plans like UnitedHealthcare and Humana that cover these items tend to be more popular with adults.
In addition to LASIK coverage, UnitedHealthcare also offers:
- Coverage of eye exams, contact lenses, and glasses and frame allowance
- Paperwork-free process
- Scratch-resistant coating on every pair of glasses purchased through a network provider
- Optional contact lens benefit
- Large national network
- In addition to generous contact lens coverage, Humana offers:
- Annual vision exam
- Yearly allowance toward contact lenses or glasses
- Options for progressive lenses, anti-scratch coating, tint, etc.
- Once-a-year or once-every-other-year frame allowance including designer or brand name options
- Discounts on LASIK and PRK procedures
Alternatives to Vision Insurance
If traditional vision plans aren’t right for you, there are a few other options. For example:
Vision Discount Plans
Vision discount plans or savings plans provide a discount on vision services without locking you into a plan. As a member of a discount plan, you receive a card that you show to your preferred vision healthcare provider that entitles you to discounts on basic vision care and some elective procedures. You pay less upfront and more at the time of service, but you are not responsible for the entire cost of the service. Some vision plans allow you to see an out-of-network doctor.
The benefit of a vision discount plan is flexibility and affordability. These plans are great for people who want to keep up with routine and preventative eye care, but who don’t want to spend a lot on vision coverage and don’t have any eye health concerns.
FSA & HSA
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) let you set aside money for health-related expenses. You contribute to these funds directly out of your paycheck before federal taxes and some state taxes are deducted from it. This results in a savings of about 30 percent.
You’re able to use the money in an FSA or HSA to pay for vision services and products that include:
- Routine eye exam co-pays
- Prescription glasses
- Contact lenses
- Contact lens solution
- LASIK and other refractive surgeries
- And more...
Speak to your employer if you believe an FSA or HSA might be right for you.