As an optometrist, I love hearing from my patients. Yearly exams give me the privilege of keeping up with them, and many have become friends. Having been in practice for over 16 years, it is not uncommon for me to have given college students their first eye exam as a child.
However, along with the joys, patients also share with me their struggles. More than once I’ve heard, “I have to find a new doctor because my eye insurance changed.” Just as common, I’ll see a patient who doesn’t visit regularly because, “I don’t have eye insurance.” After hearing those comments year after year, I wanted to take this time to clear up some misconceptions.
There is no such thing as eye or vision insurance.
Let me explain. There are vision plans attached to medical insurance, but those are simply a glorified discount plan. The amount you contribute is basically the amount you save.
For example, if your employer takes out $8 per bi-weekly paycheck for your vision plan, you end up paying $208 over the course of the year ($8.00 x 26 paychecks). Our fee for an existing patient is $110 for a comprehensive eye exam and glasses prescription. For most contact lens exams, it is $160. So, your FREE annual eye exam really costs you more than it would by paying our regular fees, especially when you factor other out-of-pocket fees like co-pays and lens upgrades not covered by your vision plan.
What about those free glasses or contacts lenses with the plans? It’s the same situation. In the end, you pay about the same amount you would without a vision plan. However, you may lose your choice of practice, eye doctor, and sometimes brand of contact lenses and/or glasses if your doctor’s office isn’t a provider for your plan. So many rules and limitations. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Guess who they are designed to benefit? (hint: it’s not the doctor or the patient)
Fortunately, there are options. The best option is to decline vision coverage altogether and ask your employer to set up a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). This allows you to get the tax benefit of the medical savings account (pre-taxed money) and you can go to any doctor you choose! You are in charge rather than the vision plan. Regardless, even without the FSA, you would still save money unless your employer pays the premium for you which is rare these days. No matter your circumstance, everyone at Battleground Eye Care wants to help you.
As the end of the year approaches, most employers are making plans for next year’s insurance coverage. Speak to your co-workers and your employer. Switching to an FSA doesn’t hurt your employer or cost them any extra money. In fact, they could save money if they have the option of dropping the vision plan altogether. A win for everyone.
If we can be of help to you and your family, please let us know. We have a team of experts who can answer almost any vision plan or medical insurance question. Call 336-282-2273, visit or email.
— Dr. Scott