Vision Insurance: How It Works and Who Needs It
Healthcare and benefits can be complicated, which can make the enrollment process confusing for employees. As part of that enrollment process, employers often offer ancillary benefits like vision insurance as well, but unlike health coverage, not everyone needs all ancillary benefits.
So, what is vision insurance? Here’s what you need to know, including who needs it most.
How Does Vision Insurance Work?
Vision insurance is an ancillary benefit offered by many employers to supplement employees’ health coverage, which usually only covers eye injuries or vision problems caused by a major medical condition. Vision insurance covers some of the costs of eye exams, glasses, and/or contacts in exchange for a monthly payment—called a premium.
Individuals may pay their premiums directly to the insurer or have them deducted from their paycheck and paid for by their employer on their behalf. Vision insurance premiums are generally much lower than health insurance premiums—from $5 to $35 per month for an individual plan.
Beyond those basics, vision plans can vary widely by insurer and policy. For example, some vision plans have a one-time enrollment fee on top of monthly premiums while many have waiting periods before coverage begins—usually around 30 days.
Vision insurance typically covers individuals in two ways:
- paying most costs up to a capped dollar amount
- offering discounts as a percentage of the full price of vision products or services
No vision plans cover elective surgeries such as Lasik, but some may provide a discount for plan participants.
Who Needs Vision Insurance?
Unlike health coverage, not everyone needs vision insurance. Obviously, vision coverage would be most beneficial to individuals and family members who already need vision care—such as routine eye exams, glasses, and/or contacts.
But complete eye exams can still help detect hidden health issues in children and adults with good vision. That’s one reason why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends complete eye exams once in your 20s, twice in your 30s, and at age 40 to determine how frequently you’ll need them after that point. Also, the AAO recommends that adults 65 and older have an eye exam every year or two.
But the occasional eye exam may not make vision insurance premiums worth it for all employees. Still, to individuals and family members who already need vision care, the savings from vision insurance can be significant.
Again, since vision plans vary so much, it’s important to understand the policy under consideration.
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