We evaluated 17 vision insurance companies and found the seven best options. We carefully considered cost, value, benefit levels, company reputation, and rankings from experts in our evaluations. The companies we ranked highest are UnitedHealthcare Vision Insurance, Spirit Vision, Denali Vision, Direct Vision Insurance, Humana Vision, VSP Vision Care, and Eyemed Vision Care. This guide explains how vision insurance covers eye care expenses and how to choose a policy. We’ll also compare costs and share detailed evaluations of our top vision insurance companies. Finally, you will find helpful, frequently asked questions about vision insurance later in this guide.
Top Vision Insurance Tips:
- Most vision insurance pays off only if you stay in network.
- Vision insurance and vision discount programs are not the same.
- Factor in copays and coverage limits when determining the full cost of a vision insurance plan.
Tips for a Wise Vision Insurance Buyer
The National Association of Vision Care Plans, an organization focused on keeping vision care affordable, reports annual eye exams do more for your health than just assess and correct your vision. These exams can be crucial for detecting macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other serious diseases that can lead to severe vision impairment or blindness. A vision screening can also help determine if you have diabetes, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases. Even if you are in excellent health, you should have your glasses or contact lens prescription updated regularly for your safety while driving. Clear vision will also help you avoid dangerous falls while walking over uneven surfaces, steps, or items dropped on the floor.
Cost of Vision Care Without Insurance
The average price of an eye exam is around $150. Glasses frames and lenses can easily set you back at least $200, even if you need only basic vision correction. A contact lens fitting without vision insurance can cost around $100, and that’s before you buy the lenses.
Recent prices for discount vision care was lowest at Sam’s Club and Costco, but you’ll need to add the cost of around $50 to $120 in annual store membership fees. Eye exam costs ranged from $45 to $70 and contact lens fittings ranged from $75 to $105 and up. Walmart eye exam fees started at $75, but add fitting services to the exam, and the cost is $125 to $145 before you buy glasses or contact lenses.
Buying vision insurance often pays off
Without vision insurance, many retirees pay a high cost for routine eye care. Vision insurance can cost just $10 to $15 per month. It will cover an annual eye exam at a $10 copay or less and all or a substantial part of the cost of glasses and contact lenses.
How Vision Insurance Works
Vision insurance works much like health insurance in that you pay a premium each month, and the insurance pays all or part of your eye care expenses for that year. A simple vision plan fits into just about any budget and helps pay for a comprehensive eye exam, glasses, and lenses. We found that most vision insurance pays an allowance toward contact lenses, and the amount varies widely across plans.
While many vision insurance companies pay for services received at the clinic of your choice, it’s best to find a policy with a company that lists the doctor you want to see as a preferred provider. Vision insurance pays much more for care received from an in-network provider, so if you don’t see a preferred professional, you could pay more out of pocket than your premiums cost you. If you choose an in-network clinic with multiple vision specialists, don’t assume your insurance considers your doctor in-network. Ask before scheduling an appointment.
Copays and Limits
Instead of policy deductibles, vision insurance usually requires a copay, like $10 for an eye exam and $25 for a contact lens fitting. Glasses and contact lenses may not have a copay, but the cost is usually capped at a certain amount, which varies a great deal depending on the coverage you buy. For example, your vision insurance may pay $150 toward frames. If you find the perfect designer eyeglass frames costing $400, you will pay $250, and vision insurance will pay for the rest. If you are happy with more basic frames, this plan will work well for you, and you may pay nothing for frames. However, if you choose a vision plan with a slightly higher monthly premium, you will likely find better coverage for more expensive frames.
Vision insurance has limits, depending on the policy
Finding vision insurance coverage that pays for corrective lenses at 100% will ensure the premiums more than pay for themselves. You may find coverage for enhancements like anti-glare or scratch resistant coatings as well, but some policies only pay a percentage or contribute a set amount for that cost. While many vision insurance policies pay for no-line bifocal and trifocal lenses, some only pay for lined lenses, with you covering the cost of the upgrade.
|Questions to Ask When Choosing Vision Insurance|
|Eye Exams||Are full exams covered once each year?
Is there a copay for eye exams?
|Pre-existing Conditions||Are any pre-existing conditions not covered?|
|Lens Coverage||Is there a payout cap for bifocal, trifocal, or specialty lenses like those for photophobia?
Is there an allowance for contacts every year?
|Frames||How much is the frame allowance for glasses?
Is the allowance annual or every two years?
Are frame adjustments covered between exams?
Can I choose any frames I want?
|Contact Lenses||How much does the policy pay for contacts lenses?
Can I receive benefits for contacts and lenses in the same year?
What is the cap on contact lens fitting fees?
|Sunglasses||Are prescription sunglasses covered?|
|Choice of Provider||Where is the nearest in-network provider located?
Is prior approval required if I go out of network?
|Coverage Limits||Is there an annual maximum insurance payout?|
|Lens Enhancements||Are enhancements covered such as no line, anti-glare, light sensitive, computer glasses?|
|Premium||What is the annual cost for the vision insurance?|
|Waiting Period||How long must I wait before using my vision benefits?|
What Vision Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Vision insurance is for comprehensive routine eye exams and correcting your eyesight with glasses or contact lenses. Most other eye-related procedures and treatments are covered by medical insurance, including these:
- Surgery for medical conditions such as cataracts
- Eye treatments for diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration
- Medications, like drops for pink eye or glaucoma
- Patches and other therapies to train the eye, as is needed for amblyopia (lazy eye)
You still need medical insurance, even if you buy vision insurance
Medicare covers tests for glaucoma, macular degeneration tests, and treatment and only pays for eye exams if you have a medical condition that affects your eyes, like diabetes.
Vision Insurance vs. Vision Discount Plan
A vision discount plan requires you to pay a monthly membership fee, similar to paying a monthly premium for vision insurance. Some dental discount plans include vision care discount cards. However, discount plans don’t pay the eye care professional directly as insurance does. Instead, you pay the bill immediately after receiving services, but at a discounted rate. There are no copays, but you pay a one-time application fee to enroll in a vision discount plan, an expense not typically associated with buying insurance.
Vision discounts plans are not insurance
Not all eye care professionals accept discount plans as payment, but vision insurance is likely to be accepted just about anywhere in your state within the policy limits.
Our Search For The Best Vision Insurance Companies
1. We searched for an extensive list of vision insurance companies
2. We evaluated 17 companies based on our expert-guided buying criteria: cost, vision expense coverage, customer service, and expert rankings
3. We provided the best four vision insurance companies for your consideration
There are quite a few vision insurance companies, and choosing which one to buy coverage from can get complicated. Luckily, we did the hard work for you. Our in-depth vision insurance provider analysis focuses on each company’s industry reputation, cost, eye care benefit levels and copays, and other criteria.
Vision Insurance Company Reviews
After our evaluation, we chose the best vision insurance companies: VSP Vision Care Insurance, Humana Vision, EyeMed Vision Care, and UnitedHealthcare Golden Rule Vision Insurance. Each of these insurance providers stood out among the competition.
VSP Vision Care Insurance Review
Great Provider Network |
VSP Global is a doctor-governed not-for-profit vision insurance company divided into five segments to provide ophthalmic technology, eye care insurance, quality eyeglasses and lenses, and communication enhancements for doctors and patients. One of VSP’s latest ventures is opening brick-and-mortar Eyeconic stores to complement the brand’s online stores. Eyeconic sells glasses and contact lenses at a discount, particularly if you have a VSP vision plan.
VSP offers individual vision insurance coverage ideal for retirees and those who don’t receive eye care insurance through an employer. Rates start at around $13 per month with healthy allowances for exams, glasses, and contact lenses. The company says the Standard Plan typically saves customers over $200 each year. VSP Vision Care has the largest network of doctors, currently numbering around 40,000. The insurer covers 88 million people and promises the lowest out-of-pocket costs for glasses, contacts, eye exams and more.
To see personalized plans and pricing, visit VSP’s site and complete an online form.
Humana Vision Insurance Review
Great Medicare Advantage Option |
Humana is a familiar name in health care and is the third largest health insurance company in the U.S. Humana sells a variety of vision insurance plans across the country, including generous add-on coverage with the Humana Medicare Advantage plan.
The details we found about Humana One vision insurance vary by location and other factors, but we are sharing the information to give you an idea of the type of coverage the company offers. Lenses were covered entirely after a $25 copay each year with $10 annual exams. The policy paid $40 toward frames every other year but used a wholesale price model which offers significant savings. Medically necessary contact lenses were covered at 100%, or the insurance paid $115 annually. Go out of network, and you would pay much more for each service. This sample vision plan included discounts for LASIK and PRK.
Humana’s MyOption Vision insurance add-on for the company’s Medicare Advantage plan pays $375 each year toward lenses and frames or contact lenses. While you can use the benefits for an annual exam at an in-network or out-of-network provider, you’ll pay no more than $40 for an exam at a Humana MyOption Vision provider. Humana uses the EyeMed Select network with 23,000 providers, some conveniently located at Target Optical, LensCrafters, JCPenney Optical, and other locations.
EyeMed Vision Care Review
Easy Online Application |
EyeMed’s vision provider network numbers around 44,000, and the company has partnerships with popular vision centers like Pearle Vision, LensCrafters, Target Optical, Contacts Direct, and Glasses.com. The financial strength of Fidelity Security Life backs EyeMed’s vision policies. EyeMed plans pay for annual exams either at no cost or for a $10 deductible when you stay in network.
EyeMed serves 36,000 members with three vision insurance options. The EyeMed Healthy Plan starts at $5 a month with discounts on frames and contact lenses. The Bold Plan goes beyond discounts to covering vision correction with allowances and copays for as low as $17.50 a month. EyeMed Bright is similar to the Bold Plan but covers a family with a monthly premium starting at $30. All vision insurance plans from EyeMed include an eye exam. While there is no waiting period to use your EyeMed vision benefits, you will have to wait for an insurance card, which can take a couple of weeks. EyeMed provides benefits for LASIK surgery.
UnitedHealthcare Vision Insurance Review
Simple Choices |
UnitedHealthcare vision insurance is available in most states as a stand-alone eye care insurance, or as an add-on to UHC’s dental insurance. Golden Rule Insurance, a part of UnitedHealthcare, administers the policies, which offer two options: Plan A for either glasses or contacts and Plan B for both glasses and contacts. In-network vision care providers are in private practices and at retail locations across the country.
UnitedHealthcare provides state-specific vision insurance brochures online from their website so you can see where the cost of coverage starts. For example, our brochure listed a monthly premium for Plan A at $11.40 and $7.20 for each additional insured individual. Plan B was $15.70 and $9.90, respectively. Eye exams are covered in-network for a $10 deductible. Many states had premiums of around $10 to $17 for the primary insured and $7 to $9 for each additional insured. You can add vision coverage to a UHC Golden Rule dental plan for around $6 per month.
Frequently Asked Questions about Vision Insurance
Does vision insurance cover LASIK or PRK?
More vision insurance policies pay for at least a part of LASIK and PRK surgical procedures. LASIK and PRK are surgeries to correct vision and are almost always considered elective procedure since you could wear glasses or contact lenses instead of having LASIK or PRK done. If either of these surgeries is important to you, you will likely be able to find vision insurance that pays for part of the operation or qualifies you for a discount.
Can I buy vision insurance even though I have health insurance or Medicare coverage?
Medicare doesn’t pay for routine vision exams and correction without a medical condition. Some medical insurances include vision care, but if yours doesn’t or you if are on Medicare, you can supplement your coverage with vision insurance. Another option is to add vision coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan if you are retired, which will extend Medicare benefits at the same time.
Can I pay for vision insurance with funds from an FSA?
Yes, you can use money held in a flexible spending account to pay vision insurance premiums, copays and out of pocket costs for eye care. The same applies if you have a health savings account (HSA).
Will vision insurance pay for any frames I want?
Glasses frames coverage varies depending on your vision insurance policy. Most vision insurance pays for your choice of frames up to a set amount, and you pay the difference. However, lower cost plans may limit frame selection.
Does vision insurance replace my glasses if I break or lose them?
Vision insurance does not generally have replacement coverage, but your provider may have it. Discuss this at your first appointment to see if you can get replacement coverage inexpensively.
Concluding Thoughts on Vision Insurance
Vision insurance keeps costs down for eye exams and corrective lenses every year, and premiums are typically inexpensive. This insurance is widely available as add-on coverage, stand-alone vision insurance, or through employers.
Get quotes from at least three vision insurance companies to compare premiums and out-of-pocket costs with the savings provided. Use our list of questions to gather the details you need to know before buying vision insurance.
|Vision Insurance Company||Best For|
|1||Direct Vision Insurance||Great Guarantee|
|2||UnitedHealthcare Golden Rule Vision Insurance||Simple Choices|
|3||Spirit Vision||Great Combo Coverage|
|4||Denali Dental||Great Add-on Services|
|5||VSP Vision Care Insurance||Great Provider Network|
|6||Humana Vision Insurance||Great Medicare Advantage Option|
|7||EyeMed Vision Care||Easy Online Application|