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Use It Or Lose It: Vision Plans Are Often “Pre-Paid” Glasses

By Dr. Larry Malashock

It is always easier, safer and less expensive to prevent a problem rather than to treat one. Most employees and their dependants have health insurance or a vision program that includes a routine eye examination.

However, many of these programs offer more than that.

Most of my patients with eye care benefits from their employers look at the program as insurance that gets them a yearly eye exam. They use it or not as they see fit.

However, most of the “eye care” programs are not insurance programs per se but more of a material benefits program that should be used every year, too.

Typical vision plan

The typical plan is usually paid for by a pre-tax deduction from the employee’s paycheck and an added amount from the employer.

For example, many plans have a pre-tax premium payment of around $5 per pay period – which doesn’t seem like much – and usually there’s a 50 percent employer match of about $2.50 to total $7.50 per pay period. Still doesn’t seem like much.

But on an annualized basis, this example amounts to around $200 paid straight to the “insurance” company for benefits that, more often than not, aren’t used.

“Pre-paid glasses”

Many such programs are really “pre-paid glasses with pre-tax dollars at wholesale cost” programs with yearly benefits that are “use ’em or lose ’em.”

If you have one of these programs and cannot function normally without your glasses and if you have no back-up pair, you’re needlessly waiting for an emergency. You may have benefits that either provide a complete spare pair or will replace scratched lenses in your old pair for very little expense.

Exam usually included

Plus – while you’re at it – the exam is usually included. If you are not sure what benefits are included in your program, give us a call. We can help you figure it out.