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What’s in Your Vision Insurance Plan

There are more options for vision insurance today than ever before. Whether your vision insurance plan is one you choose as an additional benefit in your employer health benefits package, or vision coverage you seek on your own through an insurance company or vision benefits provider, there are basics you should understand to make the most of vision insurance.

Understanding Vision Plans and Coverage

The options available to you in vision plans can be a little daunting. If you’ve chosen your vision insurance through your employer, your HR department and the insurance company literature—and websites—are a good place to start to understand what your vision insurance plan does and does not cover.
In general, there are two types of vision insurance plans:

Vision Benefits Package

Often purchased as an addition to traditional employer-provided healthcare, this type of vision insurance includes a fixed set of benefits related to eye health and maintenance, such as routine eye exams and testing, discounts for corrective eyewear, even benefits that reduce the cost of eye surgery. Vision insurance like this typically includes a network of participating eyecare professionals who have agreed to honor the plan particulars.

This type of vision insurance plan has evolved over the years to include more personalized choice for the consumer in the form of defined contribution vision coverage—where you, the consumer, choose the particular services and discount offerings based on what you expect your vision expenses to be.

Many of these vision plans involve using pre-tax dollars deducted automatically by your employer in the form of Flexible Spending Accounts, ‘Cafeteria’ Plans, Health Savings Accounts or Health Reimbursement Accounts. Each has particular tax advantages and drawbacks you should discuss in full with your vision plan administrator or provider, and if necessary, a tax professional.

Vision Discount Plans

While similar to traditional vision benefits, this type of vision insurance is generally less flexible than a vision benefits package because it offers flat discounts across the board for a wide menu of vision-related services, including specified discounts on eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses, even many surgical procedures.

You agree to pay the difference in cost in full—however these types of plans generally offer lower premiums than traditional vision benefit plans.
Vision insurance like this typically includes a “network” of participating eyecare professionals who have agreed to honor the stated discounts within the vision plan, so long as you agree to pay the difference.

Vision Insurance Planning

It may sound confusing at first, but you can plan to use your vision insurance to your maximum benefit by fully understanding what is specifically covered or not covered under your vision insurance plan, and by also discussing options with your eyecare professional to see how best to apply your particular vision coverage to your eyecare expenses.

This planning includes fully understanding any traditional health insurance coverage you may have. Unexpected eye injury, or the onset of certain eye diseases and their related treatments is often covered by your traditional health insurance rather than your specific vision insurance plan.

The point here is—it’s your vision insurance, your vision coverage—understanding your particular vision insurance plan is critical to maximizing those benefits.

Use it or lose it. Vision insurance benefits do expire.

Depending upon the type of vision insurance plan you’ve enrolled in, your vision insurance benefits may expire annually. This means if you don’t “use it” you “lose it” until the next year. Since you are contributing your hard-earned money toward your vision coverage, there’s really no excuse to skip your annual eye exam or see your optometrist should you experience any changes in your vision.

What’s more, many of the defined contribution vision insurance plans (Flexible Spending Accounts in particular) don’t allow for your deposited money to roll over into the next year. If you don’t spend what you’ve allocated, you may be at risk of losing that money entirely.

Think beyond the traditional examination to a second pair of eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, photochromic lenses, or eyewear that’s specifically designed to fit your lifestyle. All might be within ready reach if you maximize your vision insurance coverage.

Special thanks to the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, for source material that aided in the creation of this website.

PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY

We have been working very hard to prepare to re-open for normal "routine" preventive eye care, taking every precaution to ensure the safety of everyone involved. We are pleased to announce as of Monday May 18th we'll be seeing patients for all types of eye care, including routine annual eye exams.

But, things will be very different than they were prior to the pandemic.

1. Our front door will be locked at all times. We will be allowing only 1 person at a time in the office and by appointment only, so please enter alone, or with no more than l other person accompanying you. Others may wait in the car.

2. Masks will be required for both patients and us while in our office.

3. Upon entering, we will be checking your temperature and screen you for COVID symptoms or possible exposure. If your temperature is 100 F or higher, or you have symptoms or may have recently been exposed to COVID, we will reschedule you.

4. We will need you to respect the 6 feet personal distancing while outside the exam room

5. We will have you wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when you enter. We will be using hand washing and hand sanitizer constantly and will be disinfecting everything you and we touch. Please don't touch anything that isn't absolutely necessary.

6. For frame selection or picking out glasses, please let us help you, and don't just browse and try on frames by yourself. We have to disinfect the frames every time they are touched or worn, and we need to know which frames need to be disinfected.

We are doing all these things to protect you and all of our other patients as best we can. We will need and depend on your cooperation on this during this very difficult time. Doing so will protect your fellow patients-many of whom are at extremely high risk if they contract COVID - and to protect us. All healthcare providers are putting themselves in harm's way every day during this pandemic - the more we all cooperate and take appropriate precautions, the better off we all will be.

We are all in this together. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation.

Please stay safe.

Dr. Jim Hutchins and staff