Most employers in Georgia offer health insurance as a benefit to employees but many health insurance plans don’t provide vision insurance for adults. Seniors, freelancers and 1099 workers may also be without coverage. Whether you’re in Atlanta, Savannah or anywhere in between, here’s what you’ll need to know about buying vision insurance.
Quick Look – Best Vision Insurance in GA
A Glance at Vision Coverage in Georgia
- Most plans do provide coverage for kids under age 19 as part of the essential health benefits plans to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements.
- Adults are absent from this requirement and you won’t have coverage for basics like eye exams, glasses or contact lenses.
- Seniors are also without coverage, in many cases, because Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover routine vision care. A Medicare supplement or an Advantage Plan provides coverage for vision care for some seniors, but often the simpler solution is to purchase a standalone vision insurance plan that reduces the cost of vision care without paying for extra coverages you may not need.
The annual cost of glasses can be over $400 for many people, and if more than 1 household member wears glasses, your costs can add up quickly. Prescriptions can change rapidly for younger people who wear glasses. Annual eye exams a must.
Vision insurance can help take the sting out of vision care expenses. The term “vision insurance” is a convenience, but vision plans aren’t insurance. Instead, most plans function as a discount plan. Some label themselves as benefit plans. In exchange for a monthly premium, your vision plan entitles you to certain benefits, like reduced eye exam costs, frame allowance and reduced lens and lens options costs.
Expect most plans to require a 12-month commitment, which helps to keep premiums affordable for everyone. A 12-month contract also makes it important to evaluate your decision carefully because changing plans prior to 1 year can be expensive.
Vision insurance usually doesn’t use a deductible like traditional health insurance plans, but it does borrow the idea of copayments. Small copays are often required for services like exams, lenses or lens treatments. Frames or contact lenses are typically covered in the form of an allowance, which is a fixed amount you can spend in your plan. Amounts above the allowance earn a discount of 20% with most plans.
Elective corrective surgery, like LASIK or PRK, aren’t covered by vision insurance plans but most providers offer a sizeable discount on these services.
What to Look for in the Top Vision Insurance Companies
There are several factors for you to consider when you choose a vision insurance company. Priorities can vary based on the types of vision care products and services you’ll need. Doctors in the network may be a priority to 1 household and copays for lens options may be a bigger consideration for others.
Here are some of the most important factors to weigh when choosing vision care coverage:
Sometimes less is more, but with vision insurance, less is usually less. You may find plans as low as $5 or $6 per month. Don’t expect many benefits from the lowest-cost plans. Often, these plans only cover exams or just offer a discount on frames. You may find the greatest value in mid-level plans priced between $13 to $20 per month for individual coverage. Mid-level plans usually find a good balance between affordability and benefits as well as generous allowances for frames and low-cost annual exams.
It’s also easy to overspend. Consider your needs and compare coverages before committing to a more expensive plan that may have features you won’t use.
Frame or Contact Lens Allowances
Mid-level or premium plans probably offer an ample allowance for frames or contact lenses. Be aware that most plans won’t cover both and you may have to choose or pay for the other type of lenses out of your pocket. Allowances of $130 and up are common for mid-level vision care plans and some plans cover as much as $230 for frames. Choosing frames from a featured list with some providers can earn you a higher allowance.
Frames can be among the costliest aspects of vision care, so evaluate the allowance against the amount you expect to spend. Many plans offer a 20% discount on the balance if you exceed your allowance.
You’ll find some plans are a better fit depending on whether you use lens options like tinting, progressives or anti-glare treatments. It’s possible to spend nearly $200 on a single option with some plans and other plans offer the same option with a copay of $50. In other cases, you might find that all the options you use are included with no copay required.
VSP’s EasyOptions plan, for example, can cover the cost of progressive lenses with no copay. Davis Vision’s Premier plan offers tinting or scratch-resistant treatment at no charge.
Lens options are where you’ll need to pay close attention. Consider the lens options you and your family will use and compare coverage and copayments before choosing a plan.
Vision insurance plans are usually structured as a preferred provider organization (PPO). PPOs allow you to choose a doctor outside of the network, which is handy when traveling, but you’ll pay a bit more for using out-of-network doctors. In some cases, plans might not cover some services at all when you use out-of-network providers.
A larger network can mean more choices and more added convenience, but if you have a particular doctor you prefer or a chain store that’s convenient for you, check to see if that location is covered by your plan before you make a 12-month commitment.
Frequency of Coverage
Most plans offer annual coverage for eye exams but a few plans only refresh the allowance for glasses or contacts once every 24 months. Are you tough on glasses or change styles or prescriptions often? You’ll definitely want a plan that offers new glasses every 12 months instead.
Our Picks for the Top Vision Insurance Companies in Georgia
Plan details can make all the difference. Each vision insurance plan has its strengths. It’s important to consider how you’ll use the plan and how often you’ll need to replace your glasses or get new contacts. Georgia residents have plenty of vision care options. Here are some of our top picks.
1. Best Overall: VSP
VSP is the largest vision benefits company in the U.S. and offers a number of plans in Georgia.
VSP offers a discount plan to cover only eyewear for about $10 per month but you might benefit more by choosing VSP’s Standard plan, priced at about $15 per month for individual coverage. VSP’s standard plan gets you annual eye exams for only $15 per visit and lenses have a low $25 copay for single vision or multifocal lenses.
Frames are covered up to a $150 allowance with VSP’s Standard plan and featured frames come with an additional $20 allowance, which bumps coverage up to $170. Alternatively, you can choose VSP’s EasyOptions plan, which can cover featured frames for up to $250, nearly double the amount of coverage you’ll find with some other plans.
You can expect VSP to offer a wide network of independent doctors and even some larger national chains like Pearle Vision.
2. Blue View Vision
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia offers coverage in many parts of the Peach State and balances affordable coverage with a wide network of doctors.
The BCBS Value plan is priced at under $13 per month and offers annual eye exams for $20 with annual coverage for lenses or contact lenses. Frames come with a $130 allowance. However, the frame allowance is only available once every 2 years, which might be a major consideration for you.
The Blue View Vision Enhanced plan steps up in price to about $20 per month and provides annual frame allowances; it raises the allowance to $150 for frames or contacts. You’ll also benefit from lower copays for exams and lenses.
Do you shop at LensCrafters, Pearle Vision or Target Optical? Take a closer look at Blue View’s plans.
3. Davis Vision
Davis Vision is now part of Versant Health, which brings together 2 well-known vision plan providers, Superior Vision and Davis Vision. Davis Vision has a strong network and several plans available in Georgia.
The Premier plan from Davis Vision offers a solid value at under $14 per month for individual coverage and includes annual eye exams for only $10. Frames are covered in full if you choose from the fashion or designer collections. Other frames are covered with a $130 allowance that renews annually and Davis offers a unique 1-year breakage warranty. Your Davis Vision membership also includes a membership to LENS123, a special program for contact lenses by mail.
Davis Vision can be a great choice if you use lens options. Tinting is included with the Premier plan, as well as scratch-resistant coating. Standard progressive lenses have a low $50 copay, which is lower than with some other providers.
4. United Healthcare
Take a closer look at UnitedHealthcare if you need both glasses and contacts. The health insurance giant covers both and offers 2 plans in Georgia and the better plan is priced affordably at under $16 per month for individual coverage. Family members can be added to your plan for less than $10 per month.
Frames come with a $150 annual allowance if you purchase from one of the vision care providers in UnitedHealth’s vast network. Lenses have a low $10 copay, which is among the lowest lens copays from any plan and includes scratch-resistant coating. This plan may be pricier than others if you need other lens options, however.
Choose the Best Vision Insurance Plan in Georgia
Most vision care plans require a 12-month commitment, so take your time choosing the best vision insurance for you and your family. Some plans also require an enrollment fee, which can be as high as $35. Be sure to consider all the costs. In particular, keep an eye on copay requirements for lens options and calculate the out-of-pocket costs. A plan that costs a bit more per month but that has lower copays may be less expensive over the course of a year.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: Can I get vision insurance through work?
Yes, you can get vision insurance coverage, depending on your employer. You may have to pay a portion of the premium, however. Check with your employer’s benefits office for more information.