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Home » Insurance » What’s in Your Vision Insurance Plan

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.

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Dear Northwood Vision patient,

COVID-19 has the potential to cause grave harm to many of the citizens in our population. According to Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Mark Lipsitch it is likely that at least between 40-70 % of the population will become infected with COVID-19. This virus is twice as contagious as the flu. About 80 percent will not have severe concerns, but based on the current data, 20% of the infected will become severe or critical, needing some form of hospital care to do well. Currently, about 30 % of those who become classified as severe based on WHO classification, will not survive. These are the unfortunate realities at the moment.

Meanwhile, at Northwood Vision, we want to do as much as possible to minimize this risk, to prevent mortality and long term side effects, while doing our best to provide the services our patients need. We are convinced you care about these same things. (Read more)

Here is what we are asking you to do to make a smaller exposure footprint:

  1. If you have any symptoms of a cold or flu (coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, running nose, etc), please reschedule your appointment for at least one month from now.
  2. Try not to touch any surfaces in the office you do not have to touch.
  3. If you are trying on glasses, DO NOT put the frames back on the shelf. Rather, we will collect them from you for proper cleaning before they are returned to the shelves.
  4. If you are ordering contact lenses, a year supply (and some 6 month supplies) order can be direct shipped to your home at no cost. Please take advantage of this so you don’t have to come into the office more than necessary.
  5. If you do need to come into the office for an adjustment, please call the office at 727-725-5558 when you arrive in your vehicle. We will let you know if there is a wait and will put you on a list so we can call or text you to come therefore minimizing the time you are in the enclosed space of our office.
  6. Please come to your appointment with the least number of people possible to reduce exposure to them and to others at the office.
  7. If you have any loved ones that have been exposed to the virus or certainly if they have symptoms of a respiratory illness, please wear a mask in case you are an asymptomatic carrier, or if possible, wait at least 4 weeks before coming in for non-essential care.

In an effort to protect you, here is what we are doing to help lower your risk:

  1. All surfaces in the office will be cleaned several times per day with antiviral/antibacterial cleaner. Surfaces in the exam room will be cleaned thoroughly in between each patient.
  2. No sick or symptomatic staff will be permitted to work while sick with a known viral respiratory infection or symptoms, or while directly caring for a sick relative/friend.
  3. For your safety, payments can be done ahead of time over the phone if you call ahead. This will decrease the amount of time you are in the store and your exposure risk in our enclosed space.
  4. No glasses frames other patients try on will be put back on display until the frames are cleaned with an antiviral cleanser.
  5. We are actively asking patients to reschedule for 4 weeks later if they have any symptoms themselves or in their family/ social network.
  6. We are giving options for patients to acquire goods by mail rather than coming into the store.
  7. We altering our schedule to decrease the number of patients that might be in the office at the same time to maximize social distancing.
  8. We are practicing frequent hand washing at our office to protect you and each other.
  9. We will ask patients to reschedule if they present to our clinic with a cough or other COVID-19 symptoms.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this stressful and trying time. Let us all work together to lower risk of the spread so that less people die and less people have permanent side effects from COVID-19. Each of us can do our part. May God bless each of you and keep you well. Thank you for your understanding and care for your fellow humans.

Dr. Christopher K. Keats, OD