If you have an independent health insurance plan from the ACA Marketplace, chances are that your insurance doesn’t include vision coverage. Vision coverage is only an essential benefit for children on your plan. This means that most independent insurance companies don’t include it. If you want coverage for your vision care needs, you’ll need to buy a separate vision insurance plan. Vision insurance plans cover some of the costs of eye exams, glasses and contact lenses. Some plans even offer coverage for LASIK corrective surgery. But what’s the best vision insurance plan for your individual needs?
Today, we’re taking a look at one of the largest providers of vision insurance in the nation, VSP Vision. About 1 in every 4 people with vision insurance get their coverage through VSP. Our VSP review will look at plan options, how you can get coverage and who benefits most from their plans.
What is VSP?
VSP Vision is a nonprofit vision insurance provider operating throughout the U.S. VSP was one of the first vision insurance providers in the country, founded in 1955 by a group of optometrists. Today, over 80 million people rely on VSP for their vision coverage and benefits.
VSP’s insurance plans operate largely the same way as most other independent vision insurance providers. Unlike most health insurance and dental insurance plans, VSP vision plans don’t have a deductible that you must meet before you can start using your benefits. You gain coverage immediately and can start using your benefits as early as your first visit to the optometrist.
When you use your benefits, you’re responsible for paying your copay at the service provider’s office. A copay is a small, flat-rate fee due when you use your benefits. The specific copay you’ll need to cover depends on your VSP plan and how you’re using your benefits. If you have a VSP standard plan, you’ll pay a $15 copay for an eye exam and $25 for standard lenses. After you pay your copay, VSP covers the remainder of your bill.
You also need to pay a monthly premium to keep your vision insurance current. Your premium is due every month, even if you don’t use your benefits in a given month. VSP offers very low premiums — individuals pay between $13 and $30 per month for coverage depending on their plan tier. Families can expect to pay between $32 and $77 per month depending on plan tier. VSP claims that the average standard policyholder saves about $278 per year on their vision expenses through its plan benefits.
VSP plans also have benefits for contact and glasses wearers. When you shop for a plan, make careful note of each plan’s frame or contact “allowance.” Your allowance is the maximum amount of money your insurance plan covers toward your frames or contacts. If you go over your allowance, you’ll need to cover the remainder of the bill out of pocket.
Vision plans from VSP have frame and contact allowances ranging between $120 and $230 depending on which plan tier you choose. More expensive plans have higher allowances. If you’re only interested in eyewear coverage, you might want to consider choosing VSP’s EyewearOnly120 plan. A low-cost option, this plan includes a $120 frame allowance and $25 copay for lenses with no coverage for eye exams and limited enhancement benefits.
Keep in mind that you can only use your allowance once every 12 months. VSP plans include a single allowance for glasses and contacts — not both. This means that you can only get 1 pair of frames or 1 order of contact lenses every year and use your benefits.
Who is VSP Vision Insurance for?
- Shoppers looking for low-cost vision insurance: With plans available from just $13 per month and exceptionally affordable copays, VSP insurance can fit into most budgets.
- Glasses wearers who want to customize their frames: From light-to-dark tinting to anti-glare coatings to scratch-resistant lenses, there are tons of ways to make your frames more durable. VSP plans include additional discounts and benefits for extra inclusions.
- Policyholders who don’t mind seeing an in-network doctor: To get the most out of your VSP plan, be willing to see a doctor who works within its network.
- Anyone having trouble finding a plan in their state: Like most types of insurance, the plan options you’ll have available to you depend on where you live. With coverage across the U.S., VSP is a great choice for those in areas with few service providers.
- Men and women who need contacts or glasses: You can use your annual allowance for glasses or contact lenses. However, you cannot buy both in a single year unless you’re ready to pay for one out of pocket.
VSP Vision Providers
As a nonprofit, VSP Vision prides itself on partnering directly with thousands of doctors’ offices across the country. With over 33,000 partnered in-network service providers, VSP boasts the largest vision insurance network in the U.S.
VSP also partners with a number of other companies to help enhance your plan benefits, including:
- TruHearing: Many older Americans are surprised to learn that most independent health insurance plans don’t cover the costs of hearing aids. As a VSP policyholder, you can save up to 60% on brand-name hearing aids from TruHearing.
- Designer frame brands: Designer frames can cost much more than your frame allowance, no matter which insurance provider you choose. When you have a policy through VSP, you get an extra $20 toward some of its partnered designer frame providers. Some included designers include Nike, Bebe, Lacoste and Calvin Klein.
- Nonhealth-related benefits: If you enroll in a Healthy Vision Association (HVA) plan, you can save on additional nonhealthcare-related expenses. For example, HVA policyholders save 21% on UPS Express delivery services and up to 40% off office supplies from Office Depot. HVA plan availability varies by state.
When you enroll in a VSP plan, you’re given an online policyholder profile. You can log into your account from VSP’s website to view your allowance status, claim status and available benefits. You can also browse in-network doctors by ZIP code.
VSP currently holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). VSP also has a high number of negative customer reviews. The company had 41 complaints closed in the last 3 years and currently holds a 1/5 star average on the BBB’s website. Reviews frequently complain about difficulties canceling policies and allege that VSP reps routinely give incorrect answers to policy questions. Some reviewers also claim difficulty determining which doctors are in-network and which special prescriptions are covered on each policy.
Pricing and Discounts
VSP offers 4 plan tiers in most states. The specific plans you’ll have access to and rates you’ll pay depend on where you live. The following is an example of the options that a Pennsylvania resident has when buying a vision insurance plan.
- Standard plans: VSP’s most basic plan option includes $15 exam copays and $25 copays for basic lenses. The Standard plan has a frame or contact allowance of $150 with an additional $20 allowance for designer featured frames. Discounts are also available for lens options like anti-scratch surfaces and UV protection. You can expect to pay about $13 per month for a Standard plan package. This plan is available throughout the country.
- EasyOptions plan: The EasyOptions plan offers the same copays and allowances as the Standard plan. However, you can choose 1 of 4 additional benefits on this option:
- An extra $80 toward your frame allowance
- An extra $80 toward your contact allowance
- Light-to-dark tinting covered at no additional cost
- Progressive (no-line multifocal) lenses covered at no additional cost
EasyOptions plans are only available in HVA-approved areas. EasyOptions plans are a bit more expensive than Standard plans and include an additional $1.50 monthly charge for HVA membership.
- Enhanced plan: The Enhanced plan includes the same exam and lens copays and frame/contact allowances as the Standard plan. However, the plan also includes extended coverage for lens options. You’ll receive scratch-resistant and impact-resistant coatings on your lenses at no additional cost with this plan. You’ll also pay no more than $55 for progressive lenses and no more than $15 for anti-glare coating at this tier level. Like the EasyOptions plan, the Enhanced plan is only available in areas with HVA coverage and includes a $1.50 monthly fee.
- EyewearOnly120: VSP’s cheapest plan, the EyewearOnly120 tier doesn’t include coverage for eye exams. It includes a $120 frame or contact allowance with an additional $20 allowance for designer featured frames. Basic lens options discounts are also included. The EyewearOnly120 plan is only available in HVA-approved areas and includes a $1.50 monthly fee.
VSP doesn’t currently offer individual discounts on vision plans. If you buy more than 1 pair of glasses or prescription sunglasses each year, however, you’ll save 20% on your 2nd pair.
VSP offers 2 customer support contact methods:
- By phone: Call 800-877-7195. If you have a hearing impairment, call 800-428-4833 for assistance. Its contact hours are as follows:
- Monday through Friday: 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST
- Saturday and Sunday: 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST
- Major holidays: Closed
- By contact form: To contact its customer service team online, click here to fill out a request for contact form.
Is VSP Right for Your Family?
So, is VSP Vision Insurance right for you? The answer depends on your individual and family’s needs. If you’re looking to protect your vision while saving as much money as possible, VSP is a great choice. They’re also an excellent choice for those living in rural areas or anywhere else where vision insurance choices are limited. However, if you’re looking for exhaustive frame allowances and coverage for both frames and contacts, you might want to continue your search.