Choose Smart California: Don’t Forget About Vision!

My Patient Rights > Choose Smart California: Don’t Forget About Vision!

Choose Smart California: Don’t Forget About Vision!

So far, we’ve offered guidance on selecting a health plan and a dental plan. Now it’s time to round out our basic review of insurance plans by discussing vision insurance. You might wonder if vision insurance is even necessary if you do not wear glasses or contact lenses, but it is worth considering as more vision exams are recommended with age – and it’s never too late to start preventive care. While an annual eye exam can help detect vision issues, it can also spot developing conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

Like dental insurance, vision insurance can be purchased year-round. That being said, some plans must be selected during open enrollment, especially if you are adding or bundling them with your health plan. However, choosing a “stand-alone” vision plan can typically be cheaper than purchasing vision within your health plan.

Vision plans are designed to reduce your costs for routine preventive eye care like eye exams and prescription eyewear such as glasses and contact lenses. More costly operations such as LASIK and PRK – both corrective vision surgeries – are also typically offered at discounted rates.

So what are the two types of vision plans you should consider?

  • Vision insurance will typically provide free eye care services and eyewear with a fixed dollar amount for an annual premium or membership fee and smaller co-pay for services.
  • A vision discount plan provides eye care and eyewear at discounted rates. While vision discount plans may cost less, if you require more vision services, vision insurance may save you costs in the long run.

Both plans generally cover or provide discounts on the following:

  • Annual eye exams
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Eyeglass lenses
  • Contact lenses
  • Discounted rates for LASIK and PRK (refractive surgery to correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, a predecessor to the LASIK procedure)

So what about the cost? While out-of-pocket costs for routine exams are fairly inexpensive, if you believe you will need glasses or contacts, or require more frequent vision exams, purchasing insurance could prevent higher out-of-pocket charges.

For an individual, plans can range from around $17 a month to $35 a month. A family plan is usually about double or triple that cost.

While available insurance plans can differ based on your location, you can use various websites to search and compare different plans and prices, including the United States Office of Personnel Management tool for finding a plan based on your ZIP code.

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State and federal law protects your rights. When you sign up for a health plan and/or if you have problems accessing care through your health plan, it is important to know your rights.