How to Hack Vision Insurance Plans

To get better eyewear at a better value.

Vision plans have only one benefit. That is one routine exam per year and one pair of glasses or contact lenses. They cover almost nothing on top of that. In fact, you’ll be quickly handed off to your medical insurance for anything outside of your routine eye exam and glasses/contacts. Vision plans are not “insurance,” but an odd type of savings plan for a yearly exam and glasses.

Vision plans are not “insurance,” but an odd type of savings plan for a yearly eye exam and glasses.

Once you are enrolled into a vision plan — either directly or through your employer — you are directed to an in-network doctor’s office to get your exam and buy glasses/contacts. Simply put, the doctors are required by the vision plans to jack up the price so they can give you a discount. If this sounds like a scam, it is. They complicate what should be a simple industry. Vision plans should be dismantled.

  1. You don’t have a vision plan.

1. You Have a Vision Plan

You, or your employer, paid real money into the plan so you will want to use it one more time before dropping it during open enrollment. Here’s how:

Use Your Out-of-Network Coverage

If you shop for eyewear from a brand which does not participate in in-network vision plan discounting, then you will come out ahead. Here is a comparision taken directly from VSP’s “eyeconic” in-network website. It is very similar pricing to an in-network doctor’s office.

Use your out-of-network benefit instead of in-network benefit and save money.
See what your out-of-network reimbursement is on the website by chatting with an optician.

2. You Don’t Have a Vision Plan

Good! Pat yourself on the back, you are part of a much needed change in the eyewear industry. For those who still have a plan, you’ll find this valuable information when considering dropping it.

Tell Your Optometrist You Don’t have Insurance

Let your OD know you no longer have a vision plan. Forward thinking OD’s will love you for it. Optometrists are tired of Vision Plans. If they didn’t need them to acquire patients, then they’d drop them. Tell your OD you dropped your insurance and would like to know if they offer pricing alternatives for service and products for patients without a vision plan.

Or Use Your Medical Insurance

Most people don’t know this, but most medical plans will cover your eye exam if you have a condition like: dry eyes, infection, corneal disorders, diabetes, a lazy eye, cataracts, glaucoma suspect, double vision, etc. If you suspect you may have one of these conditions, make sure you tell your doctor this when booking your exam. If you are responsible for anything out of pocket, it will only be for your eyeglass prescription — not the exam — and should be at a reduced rate.

Use your Flexible Spending or Health Savings Account

If your employer offers this, and you take advantage of it, you will be placing a portion of your income into an account tax-free. If your income tax rate is 30%, then you are basically receiving $30 for free, for every $100 put in. This can be used for your eye exam, your glasses, lenses, your prescription sunglasses, contacts, and many other things.

The key element to hacking vision insurance plans is to shop brands which do not participate in the in-network “discounting” scam.

Finally, Purchase Glasses From Direct Eyewear Brands

The key element to hacking vision insurance plans is to shop brands which do not participate in the in-network “discounting” scam. They provide simple transparent pricing. Not all eyewear is created equal, so make sure you know what you are buying. Here are some examples of direct brands:

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the story, please tap the heart below. It will allow more people to read it and would mean a lot to me. Thank you!

Founder & Creative Director of California based eyewear brand @davidkindLA

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store