Retired, here are 3 ways to get vision insurance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 million adults aged 40 and older suffer from visual impairment. This number is expected to double by 2050 as baby boomers age. “Visual acuity deteriorates for many of us as we age,” Medicare Chairman Gregg Ratkovic tells eHealth, an online insurance marketplace. “It’s normal, and that’s vision insurance [for].”

Part B of traditional health insurance only covers vision care when it is a medical condition, such as cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma, or diabetic vision health. Medicare Part B will even pay for a pair of glasses after cataract surgery. But if there’s no underlying medical condition, you’re on your own. Although you have several ways to get vision coverage, its cost-effectiveness depends on the glasses you need and your provider, as private insurers limit where you get care.

Individual plans

Most vision insurance plans cover one eye exam per year, with a fixed dollar allowance for eyeglasses or contacts once a year or once every two years, Ratkovic says. The eye exam, which is performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, is comprehensive enough to screen for most conditions that can cause decreased vision, says Dr. Michael Repka, professor of ophthalmology at the University College of Medicine. Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore.

Monthly premiums range from $11 to $40, and the insurer typically pays $120 or $150 for a pair of glasses or contact lenses, says Barbara Davis, director of the consulting firm Health Benefit Advisors in Bluffton, SC. ‘ll be responsible for, says Ratkovic. Many vision plans don’t have a waiting period before benefits kick in, Davis says, but some may require you to pay premiums for a number of months or even up to a year. before you can use the benefits, says Ratkovic.

A low-cost plan may be all you need, and for some people, self-insurance may be more cost effective. Davis suggests comparing the annual cost of the plan with your estimated vision costs for the year. For someone who sees an optometrist once a year and only needs a basic prescription, it’s probably a “washout,” Davis says.

She recommends keeping the monthly premium under $17. “This will give you a decent plan that the majority of individuals will find comprehensive enough for their annual needs,” she says. “I wouldn’t go for a $40 plan that has a lot of bells and whistles that nobody uses.” The main difference between the most expensive and the least expensive plans is the allowances given for glasses and contact lenses. For example, on a cheaper plan, you can pay up to $175 for a progressive lens, which has higher magnification downwards. Under a more expensive policy, you might only pay $50 for the same lens. Allocations for lenses with anti-glare or anti-scratch coatings will also be based on the cost of the plan, Davis says.

Bundled packages

If you have multiple insurance needs, it may be more cost-effective to choose a comprehensive plan that bundles together dental, vision, and hearing care—none of which are covered by traditional Medicare or a medigap supplemental plan—in a single package. DVH plans cost an average of $30 to $45 per month, have no waiting period for vision care and preventive dental care, but generally delay any hearing coverage or major dental services until second year, according to Elite Insurance Partners, the insurance broker behind MedicareFAQ.

For vision care, plans generally offer progressive coverage, with the insurer typically covering 60% of the cost of eye exams and glasses in the first year, 70% in the second, and 80% in the third; the amount covered is usually capped at around $200 for the first two years, according to MedicareFAQ. DVH plans are only offered in certain states. To visit medicarefaq.com for more information.

Benefit of Medicare

Last year, 99% of Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries had vision benefits, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Almost all of these beneficiaries had a capped coverage amount, at $160 on average. That means the plans only paid up to $160 in vision care costs, leaving the beneficiaries to pick up the rest. The majority of these plans also covered one eye exam per year

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