Let’s say you just got some new health insurance benefits. You’re probably saying to yourself: “Woo-hoo! Now I can get every part of my body checked.” But that’s not always the case.
Simply having health insurance doesn’t always mean you’ll be covered if you go to the eye doctor and get your eyes checked. Often, you need a separate type of insurance for that.
“Vision insurance provides coverage for expenses related to the correction of vision issues,” explains Jenny Chumbley Hogue, an analyst for healthinsurance.org. It’s designed to help you cover and budget for ongoing vision care expenses such as routine eye exams, prescription glasses and contact lenses. You can buy vision plans in addition to your health insurance, or even pair them with other supplemental plans, such as a dental plan.
Here are some of your biggest vision insurance questions, answered.
All Affordable Care Act and qualified health insurance plans must include vision coverage for children, but they don’t necessarily cover it for adults.
“Medical insurance covers health coverage for your eyes — so if you develop a certain disease or condition, like eye cancer, a detached retina or a cataract, your medical insurance will step in,” says Todd Ackerman, president and Iowa unit leader of World Insurance Associates in Burlington, Iowa.
But your health insurance plan won’t cover routine vision expenses, such as an exam to measure your eyesight for glasses or the cost of eyeglasses or contact lenses. That’s where vision insurance can step in and fill the gaps, says Chumbley Hogue.
While most vision plans don’t fully cover corrective eye procedures such as LASIK, “they often offer discounts on the surgery itself,” adds Ackerman.
So, you’ve made up your mind: You’re going to buy vision insurance. But there are so many options out there. Here are some things to keep in mind:
As you’ve already learned, you’ll likely have to buy a vision plan separately from your health plan. You can do this in 2 ways:
You’ll want to make sure to ask whether the plan has a maximum dollar amount for everything included, and whether there’s a waiting period.
Even if you need just one of the coverage elements — for example, vision care — it may be a good idea to pair plans. That’s because your monthly insurance bill (premium) may be a similar cost to what you’d get if you purchased a stand-alone plan. “In that case, having the extra coverage may not be a bad choice,” explains Chumbley Hogue.
Some insurance companies, such as UnitedHealthcare, offer both stand-alone plans and paired plans, aka a vision rider (you add vision care to a dental plan for an additional monthly bill). Both types of plans allow you to pick your eye doctor and prescription eyewear. Benefits can include:
Got questions about vision insurance? Take a glance at the benefits and compare with confidence, or call a licensed insurance agent at 1-844-211-7730 to discuss your options.
Healthcare.gov. “Vision coverage.” Accessed August 11, 2023.