Best Vision Insurance: The Ultimate Guide To Choose The Best Insurer

Are you looking for the best vision insurance but can’t find the best companies? This article is the ultimate guide for you to look into a variety of companies to choose from.

Vision insurance works like other health insurance. The plan covers routine eye exams treatment for vision diseases and provides coverage for other vision-related things such as contact lenses and glasses. You can buy the policy by choosing the company whose plans best suit your needs.

If you already have health insurance, it may not cover the vision insurance that you can buy separately. But if your vision-related issues are because of some medical conditions, that won’t be paid for through your policy because they will be covered by your medical/health insurance. Best vision insurance: the ultimate guide to choosing the best insurer will provide great help in that regard to selecting a policy that suits your needs and is simple to acquire.

Vision insurance explained

Vision insurance helps you lower the cost of eye exams, pays for eye-related products and services such as glasses and contacts, as well as overall laser eye surgery. It also provides some vision discount plans that are provided to your provider for giving you discounts over the treatment and checkups.

These plans, whether purchased separately or as a rider with your regular health insurance plan, are very beneficial for people who have recurring vision expenses, such as purchasing contact lenses on a regular basis or need to conduct annual eye exams. These plans may have copays and deductibles. Copays are the amount you pay out of pocket after your insurer has paid the remaining amount, while the deductibles are the sum of money you pay before your vision insurance plan kicks in.

For instance, if your plan has $10 as copays, this is the amount you will pay each time you visit your eye doctor; the rest will be covered by your insurance policy. On the other hand, if the deductible is $300, you have to pay this amount on any qualifying expenses within a calendar year before the insurance will pay for whatever is covered in your vision plan.

It is also beneficial for people who plan to go for LASIK or similar eye surgery because they can save a good sum of money that they will have to pay out of pocket if it is not covered by any insurance. LASIK is not covered by regular health insurance, but if you have eye insurance, it may offer a discount on services to your provider if he/she is from in-network health providers.

What does vision insurance cover?

Vision insurance policies usually include the benefits that can help you detect vision problems, eye diseases, and other issues early and make maintaining good eye health a bit more affordable. This includes the costs related to eyeglasses, contacts, and annual eye exams. In addition, many plans offer LASIK procedures, which is typically not covered in health insurance plans because it is not considered medically necessary.

If you want to see in-network health providers, it may require pre-authorization before your exam, whereas, for the out-of-network providers, you need to upfront and then submit the receipts for reimbursement, assuming that your provider covers it.

Often, all vision insurance plans provide coverage for basic offerings, annual eye exams, and a certain amount for framers and lenses, or contact lenses. More comprehensive coverage includes contact lens care, fitting appointments, lens protection, different lenses and coatings, accidental breakage for eyewear, and an increased allowance that can be used for designer framers.

What does vision insurance not cover?

Vision insurance plans usually do not cover the treatment of those eye diseases which are covered under your regular health insurance plan. The health insurance plan covers the treatment of eye diseases that are related to the medical condition. For instance, if you have developed certain eye diseases because of diabetes, cataracts, or diagnosed high blood pressure, then your health insurance plan may cover the treatment of these conditions. Still, then your vision insurance won’t cover these eye issues. However, vision insurance may cover the eye exam if your medical insurance doesn’t cover it. Issues such as treatments for injuries, antibiotics for infections, or cataract surgery would be covered by general health insurance, and vision insurance does not cover these conditions.

Some vision insurance policies cover a specific eyewear brand. So it may be the case that based on the vision insurance you pick, you may find that your favorite eyewear brand is not covered. So for that case, you need to read the exclusion of your policy carefully so that you don’t get disappointed.

Other standard exclusions include non-prescription reading glasses, replacing damaged eyeglasses, and additional eye exams beyond once a year.

What are the expected costs of vision insurance?

The monthly premiums of the vision insurance are typically inexpensive, ranging from $10 for the lowest tiered plans. All vision insurance plans include an annual eye exam and allowances for contacts and eyeglasses, whereas the exact amount of the program permitted and copay amounts vary between insurers.

For higher tiers of coverage, the premiums can be as high as $30 a month. Still, the companies that charge high premiums provide higher allowances for contact lenses and glasses, low copays, and additional discounts on other products and services such as LASIK and further laser surgery.

Overall, you should expect $5 to $30 per person per month for the insurance plan. This amount is in addition to deductibles and copays, which depend on the service plan you are planning to get and in which state you live. Some companies also charge you the enrollment fees, so you can assure that if you are getting the insurance plan through your employer, you may have to enroll once a year.

Where to get vision insurance?

There are several options that you can consider to get yourself enrolled in an eyecare plan. Below is the list of available venues that can be of your benefit:

  • Employer insurance

Your employer may give a group health insurance that includes vision coverage or a separate vision insurance policy. However, not all the policies provide vision coverage, so you have to make sure that you review the policy options and health plan to confirm whether your employer offers the vision plan or not. If the employer-provided policy does not cover the vision insurance, you may look outside of your employer-provided insurance policy.

  • Standalone policies

You have the option to buy a separate vision insurance policy if your employer-provided policy or you can’t find a marketplace plan with vision coverage.

If you shop your health insurance policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can have a look over there to find health insurance policies that include the vision insurance plan as a rider or an add-on peril. As the Affordable Care Act plan must consist of vision coverage for minor children through ACA does not mandate the vision coverage for the adult population, some programs may also include vision coverage for adults.

  • Medicaid

Medicaid is available for low-income families who barely can afford out-of-pocket vision treatments. Vision plans in some states cover eye exams and corrective lenses for all ages, while all states cover vision screenings for children and adolescents.

The original Medicare (part A and B) does not cover vision coverage. Medicare Advantage plans, however, administered by private insurance companies often have vision coverage for both children and adults.

  • CHIP

Every state has a Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that provides coverage for a variety of medical services. Children who qualify for the program receive the services for an eye examination, glasses, contacts, medical procedures that are deemed medically necessary. In case your child needs vision coverage, you can check it with CHIP in your state to see if your child qualifies for their services.

Compare vision insurance companies.

To finalize your decision for purchasing a vision insurance plan, you need to compare the companies around to see their quotes, programs, and discounts, if there are any. It is smart to compare different venues to decide upon one finally. Below are some of the things you should keep in mind when you conclude on one.

  • Coverage areas

The first thing you should be checking is whether the coverage is available in your area and how many providers are there to choose from. That would be more convenient for you as it would be hard for you to drive hours to the nearest office of the provider.

  • Types of plans

As you compare between the providers, you must compare the plans provided by each company. You must see what types of programs are being offered by the provider? How much do they cost, and what do they cover?

  • Exclusions

As you see what the plan covers, you also should keep an eye on the exclusions. It may be the case that the plan you buy does not cover certain eyewear brands, and that is the one you live the most.

  • Discounts

You should also see if the company is offering some discounts on framers and lenses and if they offer and if they offer discounts on services. For instance, some companies offer a 30% discount on the lenses, or other companies offer a specific dollar amount to be used towards contact lenses.

Best vision insurance companies

As the medical insurance policies do not cover vision-related costs such as eye exams, eye producers, glasses, contact lenses, and specialty visits. The prices and coverage vary from location to location and company to company.

The best vision insurance companies are known for their long-standing reputation in the market due to their competitive prices, easy-to-reach customer services, and multiple policies to choose from. Here is a list of companies with a detailed overview that can give you a comprehensive insight into concluding your decision to purchase your policy.

Vision service plan

Vision Service Plan (VSP) was founded in 1955 by a group of optometrists, which has been serving millions of customers and has been one of the largest vision providers in the country. They have one of the largest networks of independent doctors with 73,000 access points at nearly 23,000 locations.

Plan members have access to in and out of a network of health providers, except for those living in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Washington. Enrollments are open every year, and you can benefit from your plan the very next business day.

They offer four types of vision plans based on the states you reside in; however, the standard plan of VSP is available nationwide. The lowest tier of the plans costs $11.20 a month, while the members can save up to $455 in annual savings. An allowance of $150 is included in the benefits, but if you want a certain type of eyewear brand, you have to pay $200.

They also give you the flexibility of adding lens enhancements to all the plans, such as scratch-resistance, anti-glare, light to dark tinting, etc., by providing additional fees. At the same time, some of the high premiums plans offer more discounts. For instance, the EastOptions tier offers custom benefit options where the policyholders can have a higher frame allowance. With this tier, you don’t have to pay the extra out-of-pocket payment for impact or scratch-resistance glasses.

The exam copay is $15, while basic copays are $25 (Exams are not covered in the EyewearOnly120 plan). Vision Standard Plan does not provide coverage for LASIK but offers a service coupon for certain providers for a discount.

Pros Cons
Covers 50 states Plans vary by state
Large network of providers Need to contact for the maximum amount of coverage
Custom benefit options It doesn’t offer other types of insurance

EyeMed

The network of EyeMed is vast, with 103,000 access points in the country, including LensCrafters, Target Opticals, Pearle Vision. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the company has secured a tremendous financial strength rating from AM Best.

The company offers its plans in 48 states and does not have any waiting period once the policy is enrolled. It is known as one of the best companies but a secure position in runner-up because it lacks providing services in allowances for framers and contacts.

EyeMed offers three types of plans:

  • EyeMed Healthy plan
  • EyeMed Bold plan
  • EyeMed Bright plan

EyeMed is the lowest tier plan which starts from $5 a month, offers a vision-free exam, discounts on contact lenses and framers, includes coverage for LASIK and other services. EyeMed bold and EyeMed Bright are two higher-tier plans that start from $17.7 and $30 a month respectively. They provide an allowance of $150 to $200 for framers and contacts and charge a $10 copay for comprehensive exams and a $20 copay for framers.

All plans have a 5% discount if one payment is submitted a year (although it is not available in every state).

Pros Cons
Works with retailers such as LensCrafters Need to contact for the maximum amount of coverage
Three-tiered levels to choose from Contact lens allowance is lower than from some other companies
Available in 28 states Discount varies from state to state

UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance)

UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest health care provider companies in the United States that partners with the UnitedHealth group of companies. It is designated as one of the best wellness services eye care providers because of the low premiums and minimal copay for glasses to pay for themselves when used annually.

They offer two plans with having no waiting period as the plans get activated the next business day. Both plans offer a $150 allowance when the policyholder chooses an in-network healthcare provider and up to $75 in case he chooses an out-of-network provider, plus a $10 copay for the annual eye exam and lenses, both with in-network providers.

UHC offers coverage for LASIK producers with a 30% discount on the service. The difference between the two plans is that with plan B, you get the option to select allowance for both glasses and contact lenses, whereas, with plan A, you only get the allowance on one of the options. Plan A offers the lowest price of $10.40 a month and plan B as $14.30 a month.

The vision insurance of UnitedHealthCare is underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance and is rated as the A(Excellent) by AMBest. Their service is available throughout the country except for Massachusetts, Alaska, New York, Montana, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Virginia. When purchasing your policy, read the fine print carefully in order to understand the terms and conditions, as with some policies, you cannot cancel it within 12 months.

Pros Cons
Competitive monthly premiums May not be able to cancel within 12 months
Strong financial ratings Need to contact for the maximum amount of coverage
Solid reputations
Available in 44 states and Washington D.C.
35% discount on LASIK

Direct Vision

The policies of Direct Vision are underwritten by Ameritas, which is one of the largest insurance companies in the country. Ameritas serves over four million customers nationwide and enjoys an A (Excellent) position from AMBest and an A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. The company is also designated as the best price for its low premiums and deductibles, which help keep the costs down for individuals, couples, and families.

The lowest prices of the plans start from $9.22 per month, while the individuals get access to plan discounts offered by two of the largest vision insurance companies in the United States. Like many other companies, Direct Vision has no waiting period for the plans, and they also provide a 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee in which the policyholder can cancel their plans if they are not satisfied with any of the aspects of the policy.

Pros Cons
Low premiums Contact for geographic coverage
Can cancel within 30 days Need to contact company for specific plan details
Low deductibles for individuals and families Need to ask for discounts

Ameritas

The company was originally called The Old Line Bankers Life Insurance Company and was founded in 1887. Today, it serves over 4 million customers and secures high ratings from AMBest (A) and Standard % Poor’s (A+). Their plans are available nationwide, while the plans have no waiting periods.

The company offers two tiers to their plans which are reasonable and affordable for the families, starting from $23.47 a month. All of the tiers offer free eye exams every 12 months, but the lower tier of the plan only covers glasses or contact lenses and frames every 24 months. There is a $25 eye exam deductible and a $130 allowance for contacts and framers.

The higher tier of the plan offers a lower copay of $10 for an eye exam and a $150 allowance for framers or contacts for 12 months.

Pros Cons
No waiting periods Pay deductible on the lower-tier plan
Large network of providers in all states Need to contact for maximum coverage
Plans for individuals and families Smaller allowance on lower-tiered plan

Humana

Humana has its headquarter in Lousiville, Kentucky, which offers its plans nationwide except Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. They have an extensive network of 95,000 locations all over the country.

Their plans are simple and easy, with reasonable discounts that the policyholder gets as he goes over the frames and contact allowances which is very rare with other companies. You get a $150 allowance for the glasses or contacts from the start. Then, you also get 20% off your balance if you go over your frames allowance, as well as other add-ons and services. They also give a 15% discount on your balance over the allowance for the contact lenses.

If your contacts are medically prescribed or necessary, your plan will cover them but if you have a history of corneal or elective refractive surgery, it won’t cover them. These discounts only apply when you choose an in-network provider.

Note that Humana charges you a $35 enrollment fee which is exempted if you bundle up dental insurance, monthly premiums starting from $11.49 a month with no waiting period. You need to pay $15 copay for an in-network annual eye exam, $40 copay for standard contact lens exams, and for standard plastic lenses and lens options starting from $15 copay.

Pros Cons
Bundling discounts Some pre-existing conditions not covered
Other types of insurance available Enrollment fee may apply
Simple easy-to-understand plans Discounts only apply to in-network providers

Davis Vision

Davis Vision was initiated as a New York-based optical laboratory in 1917. Today, four out of five major eyecare retailers are part of the Davis Vision network, where the members can get in-network exams and eyewear in locations spread over the country. They have their own collection of glasses with the pair costing as low as $40 with a breakage warranty. They sell individual plans through Super Vision; both Super Vision and Davis Vision are part of Versant Health.

There are three types of plans offered by Davis Vision:

  • Essential plan
  • Classic plan
  • Premier plan

The essential plan starts from as low as $12.50 per month with $15 eye exams, lenses covered in full, and an allowance on frames up to $125, whereas the classic plan costs you $20.62 per month with $150 allowance for frames. The premier plan, on the other hand, starts from $22.50 and provides an allowance of $200 on frames.

They also provide a discount on LASIK and other health-related services while also giving discounts on hearing aids, a wellness program called Fit Fwd, and has a diabetic outreach program.

Pros
Four out of five major eyecare retailers are part of its network Poor out-of-network coverage
Offers wellness program, diabetic outreach program, and hearing aid discounts No plans fully cover LASIK
Discounts on LASIK

Comparing the best vision insurance companies

COMPANY PLANS (#) PROVIDERS IN-NETWORK (#) COVERAGE LIMIT ($) WAITING PERIOD
Vision Service Plan

(Best Overall)

Vary by state 39,000+ Contact for details Next business day
EyeMed

(Runner-Up, Best Overall)

3 100,000 Contact for details No
UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance)

(Best Wellness Eye Care)

2 Not disclosed Contact for details No
Direct Vision Insurance

(Best Price)

2 100,000+ Not disclosed No
Humana

(Best Value (Coverage for Price)

Multiple Not disclosed Contact for details Contact for details
Ameritas

(Best for Families)

3 100,000+ Not disclosed No

Final verdict

The companies mentioned with the wider explanation, have some positive and negative attributes. Some have large provider networks and high coverage limits, while others offer limited coverage and low prices. But before deciding upon any plan, you need to access your vision insurance needs.

Typically, vision insurance covers the costs of things such as routine eye exams and prescribed eyewear. Or you may need insurance if you wear glasses or contact lenses or you think that your eyesight is deteriorating. Based on these needs, you can search the plans of each company and decide upon the one which best suits your interest.

Once you have decided on the company, the next step is to apply for a quote via phone, website, or through an agent. You can select the policy and enroll and make a payment which is usually required at the time of enrollment. You can make the payment via phone, online, or debit card.

As you are done enrolling in the policy, you should be able to manage it online make your ongoing payments online. Some companies have online apps that you can download on your smartphone and manage your accounts.

FAQs about Vision insurance plan

  • Does vision insurance cover LASIK and PRK?

Not all, but many vision insurance policies pay for partial or full coverage for LASIK and PRK surgical procedures. Both LASIK and PRK are surgeries to correct vision and are optional in many policies because instead of the surgeries, you can wear glasses or contact lenses. In your case, if any of these surgeries is important for you, you can find a plan that pays in part for the cost of the treatment or offer you a discount.

  • Can I pay for vision insurance with funds for FSA?

Yes, you can pay with the money reserved to your flexible spending account to pay the premiums, copays, and out-of-pocket costs for your eyecare. You can also make payments with your health savings account (HSA).

  • Can I buy vision insurance even though I have health insurance or Medicare coverage?

Medicare does not pay for routine vision exams unless you have a certain medical condition. Some medical insurance includes vision care, but if your plan does not include it, you can supplement your coverage with vision insurance. Another option is to add vision care coverage to the Medicare advantage to extend the benefits of your plans.

  • Does vision insurance replace my glasses if they are broken or lost?

Vision insurance typically does not have replacement coverage, but you can check if your provider may have it. Discuss this in your first meeting with the insurer to confirm if your plan includes the replacement coverage.

Conclusion

Vision insurance works much like health insurance, where in exchange for the premiums each month, you get the coverage of all or part of the eyecare expenses for that year. A simple vision plan pays you the coverage for the comprehensive treatments under your budget, such as eye exams, lenses, glasses. Most vision insurance plans offer allowances towards contact lenses, but the amount varies widely across the plans and location of the individuals.

While many plans offer coverage for certain clinics of your choice, it is best to find a policy with a company that lists the healthcare provider of your choice. Like other health insurance policies, vision insurance pays for the in-network provider; otherwise, you have to pay out-of-pocket if you see a personally preferred out-of-network provider.

John Otero

John Otero

John Otero is an industry practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry. He has held various senior management roles both in the insurance companies and insurance brokers during this span of time. He began his insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. He got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how he fell in love with the industry. He saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. John has diverse experience in corporate & consumer insurance services, across a range of vocations. His specialties include Major Corporate risk management and insurance programs, and Financial Lines He has been instrumental in making his firm as one of the leading organizations in the country in generating sustainable rapid growth of the company while maintaining service excellence to clients.