Let me start with some good news–substantial number of Americans have vision insurance. In fact, according to a recent study by National Association of Vision Care Plans, about 85 million Americans carry such insurance.
Now for the bad news. Vision related problems like diabetic retinopathy, cataract, macular degeneration and plain gradual deterioration of eyesight–these are all on the increase for the past ten years.
Again, some good news. It is now fairly easy to insure against such diseases or impairments. But you have to be smart about it and be prepared to shop around, since each insurance company has its hot buttons regarding which condition is “high risk”.
Here are some insurance buying tips.
1. Insurance carrier. It is important to be with an insurance company that is a market leader in vision insurance.So who are the top vision insurance carriers in US?
Top five insurance companies providing vision insurance in the US are EyeMed, VSP, Davis, Optum and CIGNA. Of these, top three have about 250 mil policy holders. While big is not necessarily good or positive, it does represent a couple of positive attributes–being specialists, these insurance companies can be relied upon to be generally consistent, have a good reputation relative to claims and handling paperwork and are probably more tuned in to the new treatments for vision related problems.
2. What are you trying to cover?
As with any other part of your body or healthcare, there are three levels which you may want to cover with vision insurance.
=general and preventive maintenance. These cover vision test, testing for age-related problems such as glaucoma and macular issues
=special vision conditions
=diabetes related diseases like Retinopathy
=enhanced lens coverage
Different plans have different focus when it comes of vision related coverage so be careful and read the coverage section of the policy before you sign up.
3. Reimbursement policy
Does the insurance company make you pay first and get reimbursement on your own, or will then bill insurance directly? You are in no position to understand what is covered and what is not. It should be the doctor’s office. Many optical physicians take the easy route and let you fight it out with the insurance company. Go with the insurance company that has doctors who accept insurance and bill insurance directly. That way you are only responsible for co-pay and deductible, not the whole bill.
4. Access to doctors.
Many treatments require you to be on special medication and not drive. Choose a company that has wide coverage of doctors so you and you spouse do not have to drive far.
In summary, vision may not be as critical as your health policy but nevertheless, eyes are probably the most important organ in your body, so when it comes to covering for them, be very smart and careful.