If your eyesight is a little fuzzier lately, it’s probably time for an eye exam. And if you’ve been putting an eye exam off because you lack a vision insurance plan, you might be asking yourself, “How do I get vision insurance?” Now is the time to review your options. Regular eye exams are important not only for your vision but also your overall health, and having a vision insurance plan will help you access these important screenings and exams.
“Vision accounts for 80 percent of what our brains process, so it just stands to reason that it should be at the top of our health priorities,” said optometrist Taylor Bladh. “As far as vision coverage is concerned, it can be very affordable.”
Here are your options for getting a vision insurance plan.
Through an Employer Plan
Start by reviewing the employee benefits materials you have from your employer to determine whether you have a vision insurance plan. Vision insurance plans are not part of health insurance, but may be included in your benefits package separately or as a voluntary benefit you help pay for. It’s important to remember that your health insurance most likely does not cover vision screening and may cover eye-health screenings only as a part of larger health screenings.
Unfortunately, coverage is not necessarily a given: A 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust survey found that only 35 percent of employers offered a vision plan to employees. That number jumped to 63 percent among larger employers—those with more than 200 employees—but in any case you might find that you don’t have coverage through your employer.
Through an Exchange
If you get your health insurance coverage from one of the public exchanges (the individual markets associated with the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”), you may have some vision coverage through your health insurance coverage. Vision care is considered an essential health benefit for children but not for adults, so some plans may not include vision coverage. In addition, vision plans are not sold separately on health insurance exchanges. If your plan does have vision coverage, it’s likely to include discounts or full coverage for eye exams, and discounts or partial coverage for glasses or contact lenses.
On Your Own
You can purchase a vision insurance plan for yourself online and get coverage at a level that works for you. Web portals make it easy to compare different plans and find one that provides the benefits you need. Plans will include eye exams as well as coverage or discounts for glasses and contact lenses. Some plans may have limitations on the provider you can use, whether they’re in network or out of network. It’s also important to remember that vision insurance doesn’t cover medical diagnoses, so if your provider finds a health issue that needs more attention or treatment, you’ll have to visit your regular doctor to get a diagnosis and follow-up recommendations.
When purchasing insurance individually, look for plans that offer strong customer service options and that make it easy to research and buy. No matter which option you choose, know your policy so you can take advantage of all the coverage it offers.
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