There are 10.4 million different viewpoints in the Tar Heel state. You may never see eye-to-eye on whose barbeque is the best, but you’ll more than likely love a smoking hot deal.
Right off the grill and ready for your consumption, here’s our guide to the best vision insurance in North Carolina.
The Best Vision Insurance Companies in NC:
- Best Overall in NC: VSP Vision – See $13 Plans
- Best for Low Deductibles: Superior Vision
- Best for Seniors: Humana
- Best for Custom Coverage: UnitedHealthcare
An Overview of Vision Coverage in NC
North Carolina is ranked among the bottom half of the country — 33rd — for overall health care. Rising costs contribute to over 1 million state residents who are uninsured for health insurance, and unfortunately, vision needs are often left by the wayside.
Most North Carolinians receive health insurance from either their employer or through government programs, which may or may not include a vision plan. Every plan is different, so it’s important to pay close attention and do your research so that you can find the best coverage for you and your family.
How does Vision Insurance Work?
Vision insurance negotiates a discounted rate with optometrists — you can get annual eye exams and order prescriptions. You’ll only be left with a copay, which is the part you hand over directly to the eye doctor. The insurance company pays the rest. Unlike other types of health insurance, there’s no deductible with vision insurance.
Some insurance (such as Affordable Care Act insurance through healthcare.gov) offers vision coverage for children but rarely offers it for adults. Make sure you check the plans carefully. North Carolina Medicaid provides vision benefits for all who qualify, regardless of age.
Seniors who have Medicare should be aware that Medicare only covers eye exams related to diseases like glaucoma or diabetes.
What to Look for in the Best Vision Insurance Companies
Keep the following features in mind when you research vision insurance in North Carolina:
- Budget flexibility
- Network strength
- Annual exam coverage coverage
- Frame and contact allowance
- Lens enhancement options
One of the most important things to look for is plan flexibility. Does the insurer allow you to set your monthly payment and pick the features you’re most likely to use?
There are 2 dangers to watch out for: overpaying each month or only thinking about what you spend every 30 days. If you aren’t careful, an outrageous out-of-pocket price tag could hit you when you see the eye doctor.
Boost your discount by adding more people to your plan. Do you have a large family? You might want to look at the budget options — but even individuals can find a “just-right” fit among multi-tiered alternatives.
Extensive Eyecare Network
Make sure your favorite doctor is on the in-network list. In-network doctors have a prearranged contract with the insurance company. Vision insurance works on a preferred provider organization (PPO) model. Doctors who are on that list cost far less than their off-list counterparts.
Doctors who are outside your network can cost double the price, if not more. The insurance company will also require you to pay the doctor out of your own pocket first, then require you to wait for reimbursement. A doctor who’s not in network can be the single most vital factor in your overall cost.
Affordable Exam Coverage
Optometrists suggest yearly exams — and there are lots of reasons to make the yearly trip to the optometrist. Computer work is commonplace in our society. Adults, teenagers and even toddlers stare at screens and participate in hobbies, sports or extracurricular activities that often require hand-eye coordination.
The retail cost of an eye exam can be over $200. Sometimes, that amount will cover the total annual premium, so analyze the cost of the exam against the total premium.
Adequate Eyewear Allowance
You’ve decided it’s time to get a new pair of eyeglasses or contacts. Let’s say you’ve decided on Armani frames that will cost you $280, and you get a $150 allowance. That leaves you with $130 out-of-pocket.
You might need an additional pair. Perhaps your doctor suggests 1 set for driving and another for reading. That’s where the 2nd pair discount comes in. You could save between 20% and 40% off the sticker price, depending upon the company.
Lens Options Coverage
You’ll also want to decide on the right type of lens: single focus, bifocals or trifocals and/or other features:
- UV protection
- Scratch resistance
- Progressives (multifocal lenses without lines)
- Light-to-dark tinting lenses (these recognize UV and other light and shade your eyes)
Our Top Picks for the Best NC Vision Insurance Companies
You’ve now armed yourself with the features that matter and can narrow the field by weighing the pros and cons between our top-rated companies. We found 4 companies that range from $10 per month for individuals on basic plans to $81 per month for feature-rich family plans.
1. Best Overall: VSP
The customer satisfaction rate for VSP high, and for good reason. Even the lowest plan boasts an annual savings of $198 and you’ll be able to choose from the largest network of independent doctors in the U.S. VSP allows you to tailor your policy to your family’s size and budget.
Monthly prices include:
- Individual plans – $10
- 2-person plans – $20
- Family plans – $27
You’ll need to pay a $15 copay unless you choose the EyewearOnly120 plan, which offers savings for eyewear only. VSP also offers the highest frame allowance reviewed at $230 on the EasyOptions plan. Choose familiar brands such as Calvin Klein, DKNY, Nike and many more for even higher savings.
VSP gives you upfront and painless pricing on all the enhancements. A $25 copay will let you select a single focus, bifocal or trifocal. You can also buy popular options like UV protection or anti-glare for less than $18 each.
2. Best for Low Deductibles: Superior Vision
Versant Health serves 33 million members in the U.S. and is the parent company for Superior Vision. The company offers the following monthly prices:
- Individual plans – $12
- 2-person plans – $23
- Family plans – $33
Your eye exam will cost you $15 on the Essential or Classic plans, and $20 on the Premier, the highest tier plan. You’ll have a $200 Frame or a $150 contact lenses allowance on the company’s top plan.
You’ll also be able to easily find a doctor. A 40-mile radius search in Charlotte, North Carolina shows over 90 results. Use the locator to find doctors in your area.
3. Best for Seniors: Humana
Seniors may recognize Humana because it serves 66% of the individual Medicare advantage market nationwide. Humana has partnered with EyeMed to to offer one specific plan that’s $16 per individual, with a one-time $35 enrollment fee — even if you’re not a senior.
Through EyeMed’s network, you’ll:
- Choose from 65,000 providers nationwide.
- Pay $15 for routine exams and $40 for contact lens exams.
- Chop $150 off the price of your frames and add 20% on balances above that cost.
- Pay a $25 copay for single, bifocal and trifocal standard plastic lenses
- Pay $15 each for UV coating, tint and scratch resistance
Did you know that Humana offers dental plans, too? Learn more about dental insurance.
4. Best for Custom Coverage: UnitedHealthcare
United Healthcare was founded in 1977. Its 40-year commitment to patients has earned it the trust of North Carolinians. You can pick between Plan A or Plan B.
- Choose glasses OR contacts.
- Cost: $11 for 1 person and $7 more for each other person.
- Select both glasses AND contacts.
- Cost: $15, and you’ll pay $10 more for every added person.
Our sample search from the same zip code in Mecklenburg County brought back 100 records in an 11-mile radius.
You’ll pay just $10 on either plan. Both feature a $150 frame allowance once every 12 months. Your lenses, regardless of the focus, will also cost $10. Other lens enhancements beyond a scratch-resistant coating will cost you more out of pocket.
United Healthcare should be on your list if you need both glasses and contacts.
You Can See Clearly Now
Here’s how all of these plan pricings break down so it’s easy to compare:
|VSP||$10 per month||$20 per month||$27 per month|
|Superior Vision||$12 per month||$23 per month||$33 per month|
|Humana||$16 per month||$32 per month||$16 per person per month|
|United Health Care||Plan A: $11 per monthPlan B: $15 per month||Plan A: $18 per monthPlan B: $25 per month||Plan A: $11 per month, plus $7 additional per person per monthPlan B: $15 per month, plus $10 additional per person per month|
VSP is our top recommendation because of its high frame coverage, flexibility for all families and above-average annual savings.
Want to learn more about insurance choices in North Carolina? Here’s our guide to the best vision insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: How do I ensure that I’m properly covered?
2) Q: What’s typically included with vision insurance?
Eye exams and prescription lenses are typically included with your vision coverage. Some companies pay for all of the costs and other times there will be a co-payment required for the services received or the lenses that you choose. See the best plans from our top provider.