What Is Vision Insurance, How Do I Use It, and How Much Does It Cost?

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See how vision insurance can make eye care more affordable by covering eye exams, glasses and contact lenses.

Whether you wear glasses or have perfect vision, caring for your eyes can be an important part of managing your overall health. Vision insurance can make eye care more affordable. It typically covers eye exams, as well as products to correct vision, such as prescription glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. Some vision insurance plans also offer discounts on LASIK and other elective vision correction surgery. Not having vision insurance can cost you hundreds of dollars each year in eye care expenses.

Vision insurance and vision benefits plans can be included as part of a workplace benefits program offered by employers to their workers. Individuals and families who do not have access to a workplace benefits program may be able to purchase these plans directly from an insurance provider such as Guardian Direct to help make eye care and prescription glasses and contacts more affordable.

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What vision plans does Guardian Direct® offer and how much do they cost?

Guardian Direct offers multiple vision plans through our partner VSP: Focused Vision Achiever, Focused Vision Core, and Focused Vision Standard. A Focused Vision Plan can start at just $14/month or less in most states. Plan benefits include an annual vision exam for just $15 and your choice of prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses every 12 months. You’ll also receive savings on popular upgrades, such as designer frames or special lens enhancements. You can even save on laser vision correction with 15% off the regular price or 5% off the promotional price at participating VSP network locations.

With the Focused Vision Achiever plan, your monthly premium is higher but you also pay lower co-pays on vision procedures and products. With the Achiever plan, you receive a larger allowance for standard frames and contact lenses and you pay a smaller co-pay for progressive lenses and anti-reflective lens coating. Learn more about our vision plans and find the one that’s right for you.

How do I use vision insurance?

If you’re new to vision insurance or are looking to enroll in a separate vision plan, you may be wondering how to start using your vision benefits. Follow these three easy steps to get started:

  1. First, enroll in a Focused Vision plan through Guardian Direct. Once enrolled, you’ll be able to start using your benefits as soon as the next business day.

  2. Next, Choose a VSP network eye doctor. VSP has one of the largest networks of independent doctors so you’re likely to find one near your work or home. You may choose to go outside of VSP’s eye doctor network, but your benefits may be significantly reduced. Visit VSP’s online doctor search site to find an eye care professional close to you.

  3. Once you’ve found an eye doctor, schedule an appointment. During your eye exam, your doctor will check to see if you need a prescription for corrective lenses or if you need to update a current prescription. One of the major benefits of eye insurance is the money you potentially save on new lenses and frames. Depending on the plan you choose, you have a dollar allowance to use toward the frames or contacts.

For prescription lenses (single, bifocal or trifocal), you only pay a $25 copay. You may also save money on optional lens enhancements like impact resistance, anti-glare and light-to-dark tinting. Make sure to take advantage of these benefits when you meet with your doctor.

Can I use vision insurance online?

It is easy to use your vision insurance benefits online or in person at a brick-and-mortar store. When you purchase vision insurance online, the plans are usually effective within a few business days. There are typically no waiting periods during which no benefits are paid. Because there are no waiting periods, most vision plans require a minimum of a one-year commitment.

Before heading online, it’s important to update your prescription, as reputable online retailers will require you to upload a valid prescription verified by your eye doctor. At your annual eye exam, your eye doctor can determine the state of your vision and update your prescription.

If you don’t find frames you want in the doctor’s office, let them know you’re considering purchasing new frames online and ask them about lens specifics. Do I need glass or polycarbonate lenses? Is an anti-reflective or blue light coating right for me? Does my prescription require bifocal or progressive lenses? They will help you answer these questions and take additional measurements that will make your online search more precise.

When shopping for frames online, it’s important to pay attention to the size and weight. If your frames are too large, they might slip from the proper position, while smaller frames cause pinching of the nose and apply pressure to the temples. Using the size and measurements from your old frames is a helpful reference, but different brands and materials may fit differently.

You may want to try Eyeconic for your online eyewear and contact lens shopping. Eyeconic is an online, in-network retailer for VSP members, making it much easier for you to find options covered by your plan benefits. You can try on glasses virtually and they will deliver your new frames to your door, offering free shipping and adjustments by your eye doctor for custom fitting. Eyeconic includes single-vision lenses and even provides the option to fill bifocal and progressive lens prescriptions.

Is vision insurance pre-tax? Is it tax deductible?

If you itemize your deductions for a taxable year, you may be able to deduct vision-related expenses (e.g., glasses, contacts, eye exams, eye surgeries, and vision insurance premiums) you paid for glasses for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents because they count as “medical care” under the IRS. You may deduct only the amount of your total medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Where can I get vision insurance?

If you don’t have access to a plan through your employer, you can visit Guardian Direct to view plan options. To purchase vision insurance directly from an insurance provider, you will first need to know the zip code of your primary residence, how much coverage you need and how much you are willing to pay each month. Once you have that information, you should consider if you need to cover just yourself or if your spouse or partner or your children also need coverage. You will need to know the ages of each party who needs to be insured before you can complete your quote. Once you have information from the insured parties, it’s a fast, easy and secure process to purchase vision insurance online. To complete your purchase, you will just need to provide the names, addresses, and birth dates of all insured parties, as well as relevant payment information.


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