Choosing a Vision Insurance Plan

Choosing a Vision Insurance Plan

Whether you’re nearsighted, farsighted or both, you’ve probably experienced sticker shock when paying for an eye exam, new eyeglass frames and lenses, or a year’s supply of contacts. These essentials—and the supplies you need along with them—quickly add up and are rarely covered by standard health insurance plans. In fact, under the Affordable Care Act, only pediatric vision care is a required benefit. And while Medicare Part B covers some vision care (such as screening for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration) it does not cover routine vision exams, refractions, eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Fortunately, vision insurance plans are available as part of many employer benefit packages. They can also be purchased directly from insurers by families and individuals who want to save on eye care costs. If you think you might benefit from this supplemental insurance product, consider the following factors when talking to your insurance agent about a vision plan.

There are two different types of vision insurance products.

  • Vision benefits packages – These function like health insurance with monthly premiums and copays for annual eye exams, eyeglass frames and lenses and contacts. You may have to meet a deductible before the insurance coverage kicks in. Most of these plans are set up as preferred provider organizations (or PPO). This means you have to choose your eye doctor from a network of professionals who are part of the plan. If you have to go ‘out of network’ for care, you’ll pay a higher percentage of the cost of treatment yourself.
  • Discount vision plans – These plans offer a predefined discount on products and services at participating providers. They also require a monthly premium and may require a deductible as well. If you choose to use an eye doctor or eyewear company that does not participate in the discount vision plan, you’ll pay full price for eye exams and products. Discount vision plans typically have lower premiums than vision benefits packages do.

The best vision insurance for you will depend on your needs.

If your vision is good and you really only need an annual eye exam, you’ll probably be better off with a discount vision plan. Vision benefits packages may be better for families who use a lot of eye care services along with vision correction in the form of eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Look at your history when evaluating the cost of coverage.

When decided which type of plan is the best value—or if you’ll benefit from vision insurance at all—you may find it helpful to add up your prior vision care costs. Calculate the total you spent on eye exams and vision correction last year (including lens storage and cleaning supplies if you’re a contact lens wearer). Compare this to the premium plus out of pocket costs you’d expect to pay under each plan for similar products and services.

If you’d like to learn more about vision insurance plans available in your area, we’re here to help. Give us a call today to explore all of your personal insurance options.

Best Ways to Prevent Arthritis


Best Ways to Prevent Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million U.S. adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis—a number that is expected to increase to 67 million by 2030. It’s the nation’s number one cause of disability, resulting in $156 billion in lost wages and medical expenses every year. While it’s more likely you’ll develop arthritis as a senior, it can actually strike people at any age. Fortunately, researchers have found a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of suffering from chronic joint pain and disease.

Eat Cherries Whenever Possible

Cherries contain powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Along with reducing associated pain, studies have found that the consumption of cherries or tart cherry juice can lower the risk of arthritis flare-ups. Anthocyanins are also found in raspberries and blueberries.

Add Turmeric to Your Meals

Turmeric’s bright yellow color comes from curcumin, a chemical compound produced by some plants that has anti-inflammatory properties that have been found to ease arthritis pain and inflammation. Sprinkle the flavorful spice on yogurt, eggs, fish or roasted vegetables. You can also blend some into a fruit and vegetable smoothie.

Switch to Olive Oil

Many studies have suggested that oleocanthal, a chemic compoundfound in extra virgin olive oil, reduces inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis by preventing the formation of pro-inflammatory enzymes in the much the same way as ibuprofen and aspirin do. Swap out your vegetable oil for a good-quality olive oil when making salad dressings and marinades.

Eliminate Soft Drinks

Several studies have found that the consumption of sugary soda can speed the progression of osteoarthritis and increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Added sugars can cause obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation, factors that are also involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. And even diet soft drinks and fruit juices can cause inflammation in already arthritic joints.

Get Plenty of Exercise

Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight as well as strengthen your muscles and joints, increase flexibility and decrease your risk of falls. Excess weight causes an increased strain on your joints and can contribute to the development of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), low-impact activities—including walking, swimming and biking—are excellent at helping to reduce arthritis joint pain.

Explore Alternative Medicine

A Scottish study found that both acupuncture and tai chi—an ancient Chinese form of martial art and medication—can reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Massage and yoga have also been found to offer some relief.  You can talk to your doctor about alternative treatments that may be right for you, though it’s unlikely they’ll be covered by health insurance.