Choosing the best vision insurance can be a tough decision. Should you buy a standalone plan from a provider or get coverage with your healthcare plan? Use Benzinga’s guide to get the answer and find out more about an eye care insurance plan that might work for you and provide you with access to quality vision care.
Quick Look: The Best Vision Insurance Providers
- Best Overall: VSP Vision
- Best Network: EyeMed
- Top-Rated Customer Service: Davis Vision
- Your employer's group plan
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate that Marketplace policies cover your children up to the age of 19 for vision benefits.
- Your health insurance plan may not cover routine eye exams or glasses even if it offers vision coverage.
- Vision plans are typically an affordable way to save on vision costs.
The Best Vision Insurance Providers
While shopping around for coverage, be sure to check with these websites for rates and availability. To assist you, Benzinga reviews three highly rated companies that can provide vision coverage for you and your family.
Note: If you have children under the age of 19 and you currently have health insurance through the marketplace, they will already have coverage for vision. This is a mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
1. Best Overall: VSP Review
VSP is the largest vision insurance company in the United States. If you have vision insurance, chances are it is with VSP.
VSP offers low copays and high allowances. Most providers accept VSP.
Benefits Selling Magazine regularly names VSP as the winner of Best Vision Coverage. VSP has won for eight years in a row.
Premiums for a standard individual policy can begin at a little over $15 per month. Family plans are just under $40 per month.
- Nationwide coverage
- Large network
- Low-cost plans with affordable copays
- Discounts on lens customization options
- Extended customer service hours — get support on the weekends
- Flexible payment options
- Flexible coverage start dates
- Must choose between frames or contact lenses
- May have to pay more out-of-pocket
2. Best Network: EyeMed
Over 44,000 independent providers accept vision insurance through EyeMed. Most insurers offer a 20% discount on a second pair of glasses within the policy year. EyeMed offers a 40% discount.
EyeMed’s vision discount plan begins at $5 per month. The family plan is more extensive, with allowances and copays. It starts around $30.
EyeMed supports OneSight, a nonprofit organization that provides vision care in underserved communities across the world.
- Don't need an employer to get coverage
- Various options of coverage with corresponding costs
- Large provider network
- Optional additional hearing benefits
- Coverage only available in 48 states
- Does not give 100% coverage for glasses or contact lenses
- Does not fully cover LASIK
3. Top-Rated Customer Service: Davis Vision
Davis Vision has a four-circle rating for customer service from J.D. Power.
Davis Vision has 70,000+ access points nationwide. Nearly 9,000 of these retailers offer the exclusive collection. The exclusive collection is an assortment of eyeglass frames offered at a discount to Davis Vision members only.
Another great Davis Vision benefit is its optional warranty for your plan-covered glasses for a year. If you break them, return them to the vision center for replacement.
Premiums for an individual range from $10-$12. For a family, the price is around the $30 mark.
- Customized plans at different price points
- Over 91,000 points of access within the U.S.
- Out-of-network coverage options
- May qualify for discounts on LASIK surgery
- Eyeglasses come with a one-year warranty
- Coverage is only available through an employer
- Reimbursement levels are low for out-of-network
- Customer service is poor
What Is Vision Insurance?
Vision insurance is a contractual agreement between you and a provider. Your insurer will help pay for vision-related expenses in exchange for a monthly premium payment. You get peace of mind and access to the most appropriate vision services for you or those in your family.
Vision insurance helps pay for the costs of visiting an optometrist or ophthalmologist for routine eye care. And vision insurance may offer coverage for your eyeglasses or contacts. Some plans offer discounts for things like LASIK.
How Vision Insurance Works
Without insurance, you can expect a routine eye exam to cost anywhere from $50 to $250. The cost of an exam depends on the following:
- Whether you visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist for vision correction
- If you visit a chain vision center or an independent doctor for comprehensive eye exams
- Tests you need that fall outside of traditional annual eye exams
- If you choose contacts, the exam and cost differ from a routine exam
Keep in mind that the rate above is only for the exam.
Frames and lenses can run into hundreds of dollars. The national average is around $150 for frames and $90 for single-vision lenses. That does not include extras like progressive lenses, anti-reflective coating or polycarbonate lenses to make the lenses lighter.
Not having vision coverage can be costly. A single pair of glasses can be hundreds of dollars and that's not including the eye exam fee or other expenses.
Where to Buy Vision Insurance
As with most insurance products, where you'll purchase eye insurance plans depends on factors unique to you. You can limit your search to the following three options:
- Through your employer as part of your group health plan or add-on
- Directly from a private provider of vision insurance
- In connection with your marketplace health plan through healthcare.gov as an additional benefit
Average Cost of Vision Insurance
Like health insurance, you'll pay an annual premium broken down into monthly payments. Vision insurance is like health insurance in some ways. In exchange for your premium, your vision policy offers certain coverage. Premium rates can vary depending on certain factors.
|Where you purchase your plan: Buying your policy through your employer, the marketplace or on the individual market will determine your premium.
|Where you live: Like health and auto insurance, premium amounts vary from state to state and company by company.
|Children or dependents: If your children are students, some companies require proof of college enrollment for beneficiaries over the age of 18.
For an Individual
Policies can cost as little as $5 a month. Most hover around $10-$15 per month, amounting to $60-$180 per year. Keep in mind that the yearly premium is still less than it would cost to have an eye exam and purchase glasses without insurance.
For a Family
A family of four can expect to pay about $30 to $80 per month or $360 to $960 a year, depending on the level of coverage selected. The yearly premium for a family is usually less than what it would cost for two people to get eyeglasses.
What Does Vision Insurance Cover?
Insurance companies that sell vision coverage typically have different tiered plans available. These tiers differ in the premium amount that will reflect the type or amount of coverage available with the plan.
Common inclusions in vision plans are:
|Eye exam: The insured is entitled to one vision exam per year. You pay a co-pay of $10-$20 for most insurers.
|Eyeglass frames: This benefit usually comes as an allowance and is usable once per year.
|Eyeglass lenses: For lenses, you'll usually pay a copay with a once-per-year limit.
|Contact lenses: For contacts, you may have to pay a copay or you may have a similar allowance to the frames benefit.
|LASIK surgery: Many insurers offer a discount on vision corrective surgery.
Vision insurance may provide other enhancements at a discounted rate. These can include:
- Scratch-resistant coating
- Anti-glare coating
- Polycarbonate lenses for stronger, thinner lenses
- Transition lenses
- Progressive lenses, which are no-line bifocals
Remember to work with companies in the carrier’s network so that you don’t need to submit a claim for everything you purchase or schedule.
What Doesn't Vision Insurance Cover?
Just like any insurance policy, there are certain things that your vision provider will not cover. Exclusions vary by provider.
Some of the most common exclusions include:
- Additional exams beyond the one per year
- Replacement of damaged or lost glasses
- Missed appointment charges, application fees or other miscellaneous charges
- Non-prescription glasses, like magnification reading glasses
- Medical eye treatments
- Experimental or investigative procedures
- Treatment where the doctor is a member of the insured’s family
Vision Insurance Alternatives
Warby Parker is a unique online eyeglasses and sunglasses one-stop-shop. While this is not an insurance provider, the platform makes it easy and affordable for consumers to purchase prescription glasses that are also stylish and durable.
When you use Warby Parker, several pairs can be sent to your home for an at-home try-on. And if you don’t want to wait for the glasses to arrive, you can use the virtual try-on feature to see what they look like on your phone. You keep the frames you want and send back the rest. You can enter your prescription information on the website, and Warby Parker processes your order, sends you your new glasses and provides a hard-shelled case with a cleaning wipe.
Warby Parker is also a great place to go if you need to replace your glasses and want to spend as little money as possible. Contact lenses are affordable, and you can order any time from the mobile app. Additionally, Warby Parker maintains a few retail stores that allow you to visit in person, work with the retail staff and get your glasses the old-fashioned way.
Choosing Your Vision Plan
An optometrist or ophthalmologist will help you determine your eye health through a comprehensive exam. Annual visits to check for age-related vision problems are important. By choosing one of the recommended plans above, you and your family will save on caring for your eyes, and you may also be able to buy these plans in a bundle with a dental plan to save even more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best vision insurance?
While this may differ for everyone, VSP Vision is one of the most popular vision insurance providers.
Is vision insurance worth it?
Vision insurance can be worth it for anybody who needs vision care. It can help you save some money on vision expenses.
Does vision insurance cover LASIK?
No, vision insurance does not typically cover LASIK. Your vision insurance may offer a discount for this procedure. However, some plans do cover LASIK, so it’s worth comparing plans if that is important to you.
What is the difference between a vision plan and vision insurance?
The main difference between a vision plan and vision insurance is that vision plans do not have a deductible. With vision insurance, your primary vision care is covered. With vision insurance, the deductible may mean that you’ll have to pay out of pocket for basic vision care.
Is there a waiting period for vision insurance?
Whether you have a waiting period on vision insurance varies by provider. For eye-related inpatient hospital treatments or surgery, you may have to wait two months or up to 12 months for a pre-existing medical condition.
About Alison Plaut
Alison Plaut is a personal finance, business, and insurance writer with a sustainable MBA, passionate about helping people understand insurance choices and financial options to create financial freedom. She has more than 17 years of writing experience, focused on insurance, real estate, business, personal finance, and investing. Her work has been published in The Motley Fool, MoneyLion, and she is a regular contributor for Benzinga.