Regular vision care visits don’t just ensure you have the proper prescription for your glasses or contacts. Routine vision care visits can also aid in early detection of glaucoma, cataracts, or even potentially serious health issues such as diabetes. Many employer-sponsored health insurance plans in Arkansas don’t offer vision insurance. In some cases, health insurance packages only offer vision insurance as an add-on. Here’s what you’ll need to know before choosing vision insurance in Arkansas.
An Overview of Vision Insurance in Arkansas
Vision insurance is usually packaged as a separate benefit, meaning that your health insurance plan may not cover routine vision care and you’ll need to consider add-ons or other options to address your family’s vision care needs.
Even some government programs shy away from offering vision care coverage. Medicare only offers vision care coverage if you choose a Medicare Advantage program that includes vision care. Medicare parts A & B (standard Medicare) don’t cover routine vision care or exams, although Medicare Part B does offer screening for glaucoma in high-risk groups.
Arkansas Medicaid, a healthcare program available to qualifying low-income households in Arkansas, provides annual eye exams and 1 pair of glasses every 12 months. Coverage includes plastic lenses as prescribed, but the cost of additional lens options may have to be paid by the beneficiary.
Vision insurance shares some similarities with health insurance, but also differs in some significant ways. In fairness, vision insurance plans are better described as vision care benefit plans — or even discount plans. Here are some quick notes:
- Vision plans can range from simple plans that only cover exams or only cover eyewear to more comprehensive plans. More comprehensive plans could cover exams, glasses, or contact lenses and possibly a wide range of lens options as well.
- You’ll pay a monthly or annual cost for the plan itself and each plan then covers all or part of the cost of certain services according to a schedule. For example, most plans cover routine eye exams but may require a copayment of $15 or more. A copayment is a payment you make directly to your service provider.
- Many vision care plans also cover the cost of glasses. However, you’ll still have some out-of-pocket costs in most cases, including a copayment. For example, if the plan you choose provides a $150 allowance for frames, amounts above the allowance aren’t fully covered but you may receive a discount on amounts above your allowance. You can also expect a copayment for the lenses themselves and for many types of lens treatments.
- Elective procedures to correct vision aren’t covered by most vision insurance plans. Instead, many providers offer discounts on LASIK or similar procedures if you choose a recommended doctor for the procedure.
- Most plans also require a 12-month commitment.
Arkansas Average Cost of Vision Insurance
Vision care plans for individuals can range in cost from under $10 per month up to $30 per month or higher. More expensive plans usually provide greater savings — but only if you use all the benefits the plan offers. In many cases, your household might be better served by a step-level plan that addresses the middle-market consumer rather than pay for benefits you may not need.
We used the cost savings calculator provided by VSP, a leader in vision plans, to calculate the savings available for someone in Arkansas. The table below includes the individual plan cost, which can be as low as $14 per month for some plans that cover both glasses and exams. The cost of coverage for additional family members can increase the monthly or annual cost of your plan. However, covering 2 people usually costs less per person than buying 2 individual plans.
|Average exam cost||Average frame cost||Lens treatments||Out-of-pocket cost with plan||Out-of-pocket costs without plan||Estimated Annual Savings|
|$175||$205||Scratch resistance, UV protection||$285||$507||$222|
|$175||$205||Scratch resistance, UV protection, impact resistance, gradient tint, anti-glare, no-line bifocals||$527||$927||$400|
Savings generally increases as you add more lens options or if eye exams cost more in your area. The chart above presents an overview, but specific details of a given plan may make one plan a better fit for your household than another. For example, progressive (no-line) bifocals can cost up to $175 as a lens option. With other plans, this popular lens option can be included at no extra charge.
When is Vision Insurance Worth it?
As mentioned, standard Medicare Coverage doesn’t include Vision Care and Arkansas Medicaid coverage has its limitations as well, particularly if you need lens options. A standalone vision insurance plan can be an attractive option if your existing health care coverage does not provide vision care, and it may also be the best choice if your existing plan places too many limitations on coverage.
Because vision insurance plans are really discount plans, it’s tough to find a situation where you won’t benefit from a well-structured vision insurance plan. One possible exception might be barebones plans, such as exam-only plans or glasses-only plans that may be too limited in what they cover to bring as much value.
You’ll find the best value in a vision insurance plan by comparing quotes and matching plan features to how you expect to use your coverage. This strategy helps you to avoid purchasing too much coverage — or too little.
The Best Vision Insurance in Arkansas
Finding the best vision insurance for your family can be challenging. We looked for companies that have a proven history, a wide coverage network, and which offered more than just basic coverage. Here are our picks for best vision insurance in Arkansas.
Best Overall: VSP
With a history dating back to the 1950s, California-based Vision Service Plan (VSP) has grown to become a leader in the vision care services field. Now with over 80 million members, VSP offers 4 distinct plans for Arkansas residents, ranging from under $10 per month for an eyewear-only plan with a $120 frame allowance to VSP’s enhanced plan, which offers low copayments on popular lens options.
Many Arkansas households will find value in VSP’s standard coverage, which offers $15 exams, a low $25 lens copay and a generous $150 frame allowance. With select brands, earn an extra $40 to spend on frames.
If you use multifocal lenses, consider VSP’s EasyOptions plan which offers the option of choosing progressive (no-line) lenses with no copayments, a $175 value.
VSP brings an affordable choice of plans for individuals, couples or families.
Best for Wide Network Coverage: UnitedHealthcare
Combining a broad network with low copays and ample frame allowances, UnitedHealthcare is worth a closer look for individuals or for families. At a monthly cost comparable to plans from other well-known health insurance companies, UnitedHealthcare brings added value in the form of lower copayments and higher frame or contact lens allowances. You’ll pay just $10 for standard eye exams and $10 for standard lenses, with a frame or contact allowance of up to $150. UnitedHealthcare also offers a plan to cover both glasses and contacts so you don’t have to choose.
Individual coverage through UnitedHealthcare is available for under $16 per month with a 12-month commitment. However, if you need lens options, be sure to compare coverage against other plans as well. UnitedHealthcare’s plans focus on exams, basic lenses, frames, and contacts.
Best for Big-Box Retail Coverage: Davis Vision
For many Arkansas households, the network offered by vision care insurance providers can be just as important a consideration as plan cost and plan benefits. Davis Vision has you covered through an extensive network of private providers as well as many popular discount retail chains such as Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club.
You’ll get an additional $40 frame allowance on stylish choices from the Davis Vision Collection at select retailers. Several lens options that cost extra elsewhere can be included with no extra charge on Davis Vision’s plans. Davis Vision also offers a unique 1-year breakage guarantee, which protects for up to 12 months.
Davis Vision also offers a free membership to Contacts123 for Arkansas residents. It provides an inexpensive replacement option if your plan coverage is exhausted.
Choosing the Best Vision Insurance In Arkansas
The best vision insurance choice may be different for you than for your neighbors or friends. Entry-level plans that focus coverage only on exams or frames may not be as cheap as they seem on paper. After you’re done with lens options, a less expensive plan might be a more expensive option.
Most plans require a 1-year commitment, so take your time before choosing a plan and compare coverage choices carefully. With the right vision care plan, many Arkansas households can save hundreds per year.