As vision care providers, our team at Optix Family Eyecare in Plainview, NY is constantly asked by our patients if they need a vision care plan and what is the best vision care plan? Our answer is never a simple one. It all comes down to both what the plan provides, how they want to use the plan, and what it costs the individual to acquire the vision benefit.
Many employers provide vision care subsidies for their employees and or their families. On the surface this might look like a great benefit. But if you look a little deeper, most employers require the employee to contribute to the plan through their paycheck. In speaking with my patients over the years, I have learned that most people have no clue as to what they are paying into the plan to obtain the benefit that they are getting and in addition they have no idea what their benefit is. This makes it very difficult for both the patient and the eye care office trying to provide care. Here is an example: some people pay $10 into their vision plan with every paycheck 26 times per year. That’s a total of $260. The employee was told that this entitles them to an eye examination and a pair of glasses. What they did not understand is that they have a $30 co-payment for the examination, an additional $30 co-payment for the eyeglasses, and that only the basic frame and lenses are provided under the plan. If purchased privately, these eyeglasses would likely cost under $100. Many times, with a medical complaint, the eye examination might be covered by the medical plan and the vision care plan would not be needed. So in this example with a vision care plan, the patient paid $320 for a $100 pair of glasses and an eye examination that might have been covered by their medical plan.
Of course this is not always the case and vision plans differ in benefits provided. Here is another tidbit: The quality of the eyeglass materials provided by the vision plans may also differ depending on the lab that makes the eyeglasses. What we tell our patients is that if our office has a choice as to which lab to use, then the quality of their eyeglass lenses will be the best we have to offer. If the vision plan guidelines tell the doctor which labs we have to use, which is unfortunately the case with a couple of the major vision plans, then the provider has no control of the quality of lenses that the patient receives. It is the vision provider’s responsibility to make sure that the prescription is correct. But when the plan uses a substandard lens, that is not the provider’s responsibility. One might think that if the doctor gives a prescription that all eyeglass lenses are the same. That is like saying that since you have your driver’s license that the Chevy drives the same as the Ferrari. It just is not true.
The best advice I can give to anybody is to go to a provider they trust and let the provider guide you to what is best for your eyes. Use your vision benefits as a discount and get what’s right for you. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 516-931-6330. We will guide you and help you in any way we can.
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum
Optix Family Eyecare